There are many factors to consider when finding the right bedding for your rabbits. Cedar is a popular type of bedding for many animals, but is it the best option for your furry friend?
A lot of rabbit owners are confused about this because cedar is absorbent and quite comfortable. It can keep a rabbit’s cage clean and dry and even keep the insects away as it is believed to be a natural insect repellent.
Despite these benefits, cedar is not a good choice of bedding for bunnies. It’s softwood, so it is not as durable as other types of bedding. It can also be dusty, which can cause respiratory problems for your rabbit.
Some manufacturers treat their cedar wood shavings with chemicals. If that’s the case, it’s a big no to use it for your furry friend.
So, let’s find out what is the criteria for choosing the best rabbit bedding and whether cedar is a good option for these tiny fellas.
What is Cedar Bedding?
Before we talk about whether cedar bedding can be used for rabbits or not, let’s first explore what cedar bedding is and what are the benefits and challenges that come with it.
Cedar bedding is made from cedar wood shavings. This wood is obtained from trees belonging to coniferous trees of the Pinaceae family. It produces a pleasant but strong smell that also keeps the insects away.
Cedar shavings are popularly used for the purpose of landscaping. Red cedar bedding is common among dog owners as it’s comfortable and soft. However, some people complain of the strong odor, which may start causing problems in these pets.
Cedar bedding is categorized as softwood bedding, like pine bedding. This type of bedding is known to have toxic oils in it, which can cause respiratory issues in animals. Cedar is known to have a lot more toxic oils than other types of softwood. It also has a few other disadvantages and is therefore not recommended to be used for animal bedding.
Is Cedar Bedding Safe for Rabbits?
This is an ongoing concern and debate amongst the owners of rabbits. Usually, untreated cedar shavings cause trouble. Some of the most common issues of using cedar shavings as beddings for rabbits include;
Cedar shavings are known to have a strong, pungent odor. This may irritate your rabbits as they have sensitive respiratory systems. This odor originates from the natural volatile chemicals in the wood called phenols.
Respiratory and breathing issues
These phenols are not safe for rabbits, as they can penetrate their bodies through the lungs. Once fumes penetrate the lungs, phenols may cause breathing difficulties for rabbits.
As a natural tendency to chew, rabbits chew their bedding material. Chewing cedar bedding may pose threat to their digestive system as well.
Rabbits tend to have very sensitive livers. The phenols present in cedar wood, when penetrated into the liver, can cause changes in the liver enzymes. This, in turn, causes the liver to overwork itself.
If your rabbit cannot get rid of these phenols from her body, you may have to take her to a vet. The vet will prescribe a few drugs for cleansing these phenols.
Choosing the Best Bedding for Bunnies
Many different types of bedding are available for rabbits. The most important thing to consider is what bedding will best suit your rabbit’s needs. Some rabbits prefer soft, fluffy bedding, while others prefer a more firm, supportive bedding.
As rabbits spend most of their time in their cages, their bedding should make them feel safe and comfortable. Rabbits tend to be comfortable within a temperature range of 60-70 degrees. Choose bedding that will help keep them warm.
Finally, a rabbit’s bedding should be dry and clean. Dry bedding would eliminate the chances of bacteria and mold buildup. This is very important for the health of your rabbits.
One type of bedding that is popular among rabbits is hay. Hay is a great source of fiber for rabbits and helps keep their digestive system healthy. It is also a natural insulator, so it can help keep your rabbit warm in the winter months.
Another type of bedding that is popular among rabbits is shredded paper. Shredded paper is a great option for rabbits who like to burrow and nest. It is also absorbent, so it can help keep your rabbit’s cage clean and dry.
What Type of Wood Shavings to Use as Rabbit Bedding?
Hardwood shavings are considered safe to be used as bedding for rabbits. These wood beddings are odor-free and phenol-free. Heat-treated shavings are recommended to be used, which makes the bedding even safer.
Amongst the hardwood beddings, aspen wood shavings make the best bedding for bunnies. Some other popular woods that are safe for rabbits’ bedding are wood shavings from apple, arbutus, ash, bamboo cane, blackberry, cottonwood, hawthorn, hazelnut, pear, poplar, raspberry, spruce, sycamore, and willow.
All softwood shavings are considered unsafe for use as bedding for rabbits.
Cedar tops this list due to the hazards discussed above. It is followed by pine, which also holds a controversial standing. While few experts say that pine has the same effects as cedar, others believe that pine has a low level of phenols.
While these shavings are considered unsafe, few experts consider heat-treated cedar and pine shavings safe for rabbits’ bedding. However, this is mostly avoided, as the hazards of softwood are high.
Besides cedar and pine, wood shavings from stone-fruit trees are also considered unsafe for rabbits.
These woods are from peach, apricot, avocado, plum, and cherry trees. While few experts say that this wood can be used after it has been dried for a month, most believe it should be avoided.
Other unsafe woods which should be avoided are alder, beech, citrus, cypress, elm, fir, maple, oak, olive, redwood, and rosewood.
Heat-Treated Cedar Shavings – Are they Safe?
Yes, many studies show that cedar shavings that have been heat-treated are safe for animals, including rabbits. However, this type of bedding tends to be very expensive, so most rabbit owners want to avoid it.
Some brands on the market claim and guarantee the safety and efficacy of cedar shavings to be used as a rabbit’s bedding. These brands use treated cedar shavings, which may not harm your rabbits.
However, before choosing any such bedding, ensure you have done your homework and are completely satisfied with your choice. You can rely on user reviews about a particular product online to find out if it’s reliable or not. Finally, always choose cedar bedding that has not been sprayed on with chemicals or coatings because these chemicals can prove toxic for bunnies.
While cedar bedding has numerous benefits, it’s not recommended to be used for rabbits. For one, it may be chemically treated, which can cause health issues in your bunny. Moreover, cedar bedding can be harmful to rabbits if they ingest it.
Cedar chips and shavings can contain toxins damaging a rabbit’s liver. If rabbits ingest cedar bedding, they may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. In severe cases, ingesting cedar bedding can be fatal to rabbits.
The fumes from cedar bedding can irritate a rabbit’s respiratory system. This can cause a rabbit to have difficulty breathing, and in severe cases, it can be fatal.
Because of these reasons, it is best to avoid using cedar shavings as bedding for your furry companion. However, if you still want to use it for its benefits, make sure you find the highest-quality, heat-treated cedar shavings available on the market.