The population of small-animal-owning households is growing, and coupled with a push for more natural household products, there’s a push for healthy, safe, environmentally friendly bedding for them.
Most of these products avoid chemical additives, like scents, and break down after disposal much faster than traditional products.
“We see consumers looking for products that are naturally safe, effective and environmentally friendly,” Rich Whiting, vice president at American Wood Fibers, said. “More processed products, or ones where the origin is unclear, are falling out of favor because of the continuing stream of stories related to health concerns.”
Those health concerns could be related to the source materials, Whiting explained.
“For example, several years ago, we received information that there are dioxins in some paper pet bedding products that are made from reclaimed fibers coming from the sludge stream of paper plants,” he said, explaining that dioxins are known toxic carcinogens. “We made a decision to become a ‘sludge-free’ company and only process fibers made from natural wood or food-grade paper byproduct fibers. These products meet the standard of being nontoxic, effective, good for the pet and good for the planet.”
American Wood Fibers found new fibers that are 99.9 percent dust free, are dioxin- and sludge-free, and the brand packages those products for private-label partners. Whiting advises retailers to examine products closely before choosing which ones to stock.
“Look for products that are not made from reclaimed paper, and meet the standard of being dust-free, highly absorbent, and dioxin- and sludge-free,” he said.
Fresh News Small Animal Bedding utilizes baking soda to eliminate odors and keep the habitat fresh. The bedding is eco-friendly because it is 100 percent biodegradable and compostable, and it helps keep the pet owner’s home clean because it is 99 percent dust free.
Gordon Walker, vice president of sales at Fresh News, said that the customers who look for a natural bedding option are environmentally responsible consumers who want the best for their pets.
“They are looking for products that perform and deliver on what they say they will do,” Walker said. “They need to be low dust, manufactured from substrates that are natural. They need to control odors naturally without chemicals and last longer in cages than traditional beddings. Our Fresh News Small Bedding is made from recycle paper that does absorb, controls odors and lasts longer than traditional beddings.”
According to Walker, the latest trends in the natural bedding category are the addition of “natural additives” to current bedding products to enhance the performance. He predicted that more of these blended products will arrive in the market because it makes good products even better.
Pestell, which produces many traditional small-animal bedding options, like corn cob, cedar and recycled paper, among others, launched one of the newest innovations in natural bedding — the use of hemp.
Hemp is one of the most highly renewable resources available, making its use gentler on the environment. Further, after it’s used and thrown away, it breaks down faster than other available materials. According to the company, it is the ideal bedding material for hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, hedgehogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, mice and rats, as well as birds and other small animals, because it is absorptive and dust free.
Another option for environmentally conscious small-pet owners is Vitakraft’s Eco Bedding. Made from 100 percent recycled paper, the bedding is both dust-free and hypoallergenic. The material helps reduce odors as well, resulting in a more comfortable environment for the animal.
CareFRESH’s premium soft bedding, made from natural cellulose fibers, is safe and comfy for all small pets. It controls odor three times longer than the original, for longer lasting freshness and more time between cage changes, as well as absorbs three times its weight in liquids to keep pets dry, according to the company.
Not Just Small Animals
But natural bedding isn’t limited to small mammals and birds. It is also popular when it comes to fish and reptiles.
The CORALine, from CaribSea, is purposely engineered and free of impurities such as ash, metals, pesticides and silica, which allows for the creation of a safe and beautiful environment for fish and invertebrates.
And when it comes to reptiles, coconut is emerging as an eco-friendly substrate.
Zoo Med’s Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Substrate is made from recyclable coconut fiber and provides a good habitat substrate for a variety of pets, including many amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. This type of bedding is ideal for use in terrariums for animals that require certain humidity levels to be maintained.