Does the paper bedding my small pet use matter?

Bedding is important for a good night's rest. You've likely created the perfect nighttime nest for yourself with a downy comforter, all the pillows, and extra blankets to keep you cozy. But your small animal (hamsters, rabbits, gerbils, ferrets, and guinea pigs) have very different needs to create their cozy nest.

And something more important that you may not realize: The actual type of paper used in your furry friend's bedding can make a huge difference in their comfort and overall health. The paper-making process plays an important role in keeping your pet's bedding odor- and dust-free as well as super soft (for that overall coziness).

Why the Paper Used in Bedding Matters

While many brands make paper bedding, it's where the paper actually comes from that makes the difference. Most pet bedding brands use lower-grade pulp in their products. It's the less-refined, leftover "sludge" from the paper-making process that's not good enough to even make paper.

Picture the paper you made in grade school — rough and lumpy with lots of "character." That added "character" shows up in your small pet's bedding and is less than comfy. (Do you remember the Princess and the Pea fairy tale? Doesn't really make for a good night's sleep.)

In contrast, a bedding manufacturer that sources the remnants from premium paper intended for human use is a significantly superior alternative. Think of the sugar cookies you cut out for the holidays. The dough has been kneaded and rolled to perfection (no lumps here!). After you cut out your cookies, what do you do with the leftover dough? You either re-roll it and cut out a few more cookies, or you shape them into something else. That's similar to what's happening in the high-quality, paper-bedding-making process. Using this high-quality paper, you get more absorbent, safer, and less dusty bedding than other products made from short fibers too small to make paper in the first place.

Let's look at how this premium paper bedding makes a difference to your pet's health and wellness.

It's Important for Your Pet's Health

As a pet owner, you're concerned about your pet's safety. And the bedding you choose should be made from only natural, non-toxic materials, says Dr. Sara Ochoa, a veterinarian at the Animal Hospital of West Monroe in Louisiana and the co-founder of How To Pets.

A highly absorbent bedding product is critical to keep your pet's living space clean and dry. "Avoid using cotton bedding as it has low absorbency and can lead to the growth of bacteria and fungi," says Dr. Ochoa, who also advises against cedar bedding as it can release harmful fumes that can irritate your pet's respiratory system.

Paper-based bedding is not only highly absorbent but can also keep odor under control. Kaytee Clean & Cozy premium paper bedding doesn't contain harmful chemicals, additives, irritants, or by-products. Choose from options that are either scent-free or naturally scented with lavender buds for a nicer-smelling home. To mitigate the ammonia smell from your small pet's excretions, try Clean & Cozy Extreme Odor Control Bedding, which guarantees a 14-day odor-controlled environment or your money back.

Absorbent bedding gives you peace of mind knowing your pet won't develop respiratory issues from a smelly habitat. Clean & Cozy bedding expands to three times its size — meaning less cage cleans — and absorbs up to five times its weight in liquid.

It Can Cut Down on Dust

Pets can have allergies just like humans, and bedding products with high dust levels can trigger those allergies, in addition to causing respiratory and other health conditions. To avoid potential irritants, veterinarian Chyrle Bonk at recommends dust-free paper bedding. "It's also highly absorbent, allows an animal to burrow, and is often made from recycled materials," she says.

How does a bedding get as close to dust-free as possible? Kaytee uses a dust vacuum to produce Clean & Cozy bedding that sucks dust out of the bedding after it dries. This extra step is what gets the bedding to being almost 100% dust-free. And this helps your small pet sleep more cozily at night.

It Makes a Difference for the Environment

Caring for the environment extends beyond just recycling. Bedding sourced from premium paper is a more superior product and more comfortable for your small pets and also better for the planet. Clean & Cozy bedding products utilize unused remnants and trimmings from paper products intended for human use. These materials are not recycled from consumers but are sourced directly from the paper mill as remnants.

The Kaytee Difference

Knowing where your small pet's paper bedding comes from matters. While paper bedding is generally a good option due to its softness and non-toxic properties, not all paper bedding is made alike. Be sure you find a high-quality bedding that will help keep your pet healthy by being as dust-free as possible.

Check out How Often Should I Change My Small Animal's Bedding for more information on when's the best time to change out your pet's bedding.