Wood or Paper Bedding For Guinea Pigs: Which Is Better?

There are a lot of guinea pig bedding products based on wood and paper. Many of you may not decide which one you should use. You may ask, Wood or paper bedding for guinea pigs: Which one is better?

Paper bedding is better than wood bedding because it’s more absorbent, softer for guinea pig’s feet, and safer as it doesn’t contain any scent or volatile oils. However, kiln-dried pine and aspen bedding can be great bedding options as they don’t contain aromatics oil and are safe for guinea pigs.

But, all brands may not maintain good quality. They both must have no dust and volatile oils and should be safe for guinea pigs’ health. 

Here, you will get the comparison between Wood or paper bedding for guinea pigs and know what you should use for your guinea pigs.

Wood and paper bedding that you should avoid for guinea pigs

Wood Vs Paper Bedding For Guinea Pigs

Pine and cedar bedding are dangerous for guinea pigs as they contain volatile oils. This chemical has scents that cause various complications.

This softwood shaving can damage their lung, lung and kill them. Moreover, they contain the dust that’s also harmful to them. Sawdust is dustier, so you can’t use that either.

If you prefer wood-based bedding, choose aspen shaving and kiln-dried pine shaving. These go through various processing and dust and volatile oils are extracted.

Similarly, you can’t use any kinds of paper for guinea pig’s bedding. Newspapers are a bad choice as bedding.

Ink and chemicals of the newspaper can risk your piggy’s life if they chew or eat a piece of it.

Stay away from sludge or reclaimed paper and recycled printed paper as well. They are also very toxic.

In this article, we have discussed the safe-to-use wood and paper bedding materials for your guinea pigs mostly.

Wood vs paper bedding for guinea pigs: Comparison

Here is the comparison between wood and paper bedding for guinea pigs.


Paper bedding has more absorption capacity than wood bedding. Absorbance is one of the most important factors for guinea pigs’ bedding. Paper bedding can absorb moisture from poop or urine extremely well.

On the other hand, you may not get the same kinds of moisture-controlling benefits from aspen or pine bedding.

Softness and comfort

Guinea pigs love soft and cozy bedding and paper bedding is better than wood shaving in that aspect. It’s not that aspen, hemp, or kiln-dried pine bedding is so uncomfortable or hard.

But, paper bedding is much softer and more comfortable. That’s good for their soft feet. So, guinea pigs like that more.

But, if you want the best bedding in terms of comforts, fleece will beat both paper and wood bedding.

Another important thing is wood shaving is not suitable for hairless piggies. Shaving may cut the skin or cause skin infection if you have hairless guinea pigs.

Presence of volatile oils

Naturally, wood shaving contains volatile oil. It spreads a smell that’s dangerous for the guinea pig’s health.

It causes serious respiratory and other health problems, sometimes even leading to death. So, choosing good wood bedding with no aromatic oil is mandatory.

However, there may be a chance of having a little number of oils in the shavings even after processing. Paper bedding doesn’t contain any kind of oils and thus it’s safer in that sense.

Quantity of dust 

Guinea pigs are so sensitive to dust particles. Dust causes serious breathing problems and that can result in respiratory illness, even death.

Both paper and wood bedding may have dust. But, paper bedding may contain more dust as most of them are crumbled paper. So, those paper bedding can lead to a complication. 

However, both paper and wood bedding go through a filtering process to eliminate all dust. Must check the label of the product and make sure it’s dust extracted.

Avoid cheaper brands as well, especially if you choose paper bedding. There are some paper bedding that is labeled as dust extracted, but you see they are dusty after opening the package.

Safer bedding option

As paper bedding doesn’t have any volatile oil like wood shavings, it is safer for guinea pigs’ health. But, dust may be a thing to be concerned about for using both bedding.

However, if you pick good products that don’t have any dust, volatile oils, and other added chemicals, both of them can be safe for your piggies.

Another thing that causes health issues is added colors. Paper bedding sometimes contains colors but wood bedding doesn’t. So, in this case, wood bedding can be safer.


Most of the paper and wood bedding are biodegradable and environment-friendly.

Added colors, scent, and chemicals

Some cheap bedding products may contain added scents and chemicals. But, well-known brands make sure that wood or paper bedding has no such things. Scent or any other chemical is harmful to your little piggies.

However, many paper bedding materials contain colors to give a colorful look to the guinea pig’s cage.

Those can also be bad for guinea pigs’ health. But, wood shaving doesn’t contain any color which is great. However, colorless paper bedding is also available.

Odor control

Bedding for guinea pigs may produce a bad smell after a while. Many owners struggle to make the cage odor-free.

Wood bedding such as kiln-dried pine and hemp bedding control odor nicely. They can be even better than fleece bedding. Aspen does average in that case.

On the other hand, paper bedding can also control odor nicely. But, some products like white unbleached paper bedding can spread a strong paper odor.


Wood bedding such as aspen or hemp bedding is more expensive than many paper bedding.

A package of wood bedding is much heavier, so you need to pay a high shipping cost. Though paper bedding like Carefresh is cheaper, large granule paper pellets may cost you more.


You can’t reuse the same wood shaving or paper pellets once you put them on the floor of your guinea pig’s cage. You need to replace the portion that’s dirty or wet with new shaving or pellets.

Making cage messy

Paper bedding may make the cage, your room, or house messier than wood shaving because of its structure.


Once you spread the paper pellets or wood shaving inside the guinea pig’s cage, it may last for 5-7 days.

However, natural paper bedding may not last more than that as it can’t maintain its quality and become mushy.

Risk of allergy 

Paper or wood bedding may contain the dust that can cause allergies to your guinea pigs or any family member. In most cases, paper bedding has more possibility of containing dust than wood.

Maintenance cost

You only have to replace the portion of the wood shaving or paper pellets that get wet or have poop. So, they don’t include a laundering cost like fleece.

However, you need to keep buying the bedding regularly, as they aren’t reusable. So, overall, wood or paper bedding may cost you more than fleece.

Ease of cleaning

Paper bedding gets heavier over time as its good absorbents. So, you may have to give an extra effort while cleaning the cage.

But, you don’t have to face it with wood bedding. Moreover, you don’t need to wash these bedding materials like a fleece regularly.

Controlling infection

Both wood and paper bedding can control infection well by controlling moisture. When the cage stays wet for a long time and it will produce mold and develop bacteria and fungus.

This will cause various infections and health problems to your guinea pigs. But, both of the bedding can help you prevent any of these problems.

Maintenance work

You have to replace both wood and paper bedding every 5-7 days, though it depends on the type of product and material they made off.

Both bedding materials need the same amount of maintenance work. Aspen or kiln-dried pine is good as you don’t have to replace or do poo-picking so frequently.

Poop goes under the aspen or pine shavings quite nicely and keeps your piggies away from coming in contact with that.

Paper bedding is also great as it absorbs moisture more than any other bedding. This reduces the maintenance work as well.

However, paper bedding needs more spot cleaning as it gets too messy. 

For outdoor guinea pigs

Kiln-dried pine or aspen shaving works better for outdoor guinea pigs since they are more natural than paper bedding.

Wood vs paper bedding: Which one should you buy?

Paper bedding is more popular than wood bedding as they are cheaper and better as bedding in many aspects than wood shavings.

You have to be careful of many factors while buying wood shavings such as raw products, dust, volatile oils, and health safety.

Moreover, wood bedding is expensive. So, you can go with the paper bedding as you don’t have to worry about all of these.

Besides, it’s more absorbent and soft for your guinea pigs. But, you also need to buy good quality paper bedding to ensure safety as well.

Though many owners like wood bedding. You use one of them, go with aspen or kiln-dried pine bedding.

Moreover, if you need bedding for an outdoor cage, you should choose aspen or kiln-dried pine bedding.

Check out our recommended top wood and paper bedding for your guinea pigs.

Recommended paper-based bedding for guinea pigs

Here is our recommend paper-based bedding for guinea pigs:

  1. Carefresh Small Pet Bedding
  2. Kaytee Clean & Cozy Super Absorbent Paper Bedding
  3. Small Pet Select Natural Paper Bedding

Recommended wood-based bedding for guinea pigs

Here is our recommend wood-based bedding for guinea pigs:

  1. Small Pet Select Aspen Bedding
  2. Living World Pine Shavings
  3. RentACoop Hemp Bedding


Though both paper and wood bedding is widely used for guinea pigs, overall paper bedding is ahead of wood bedding in terms of better absorbency, softness, and safety. However, all bedding materials aren’t the same and you have to be more careful in the case of wood bedding because of the aromatic oils that it contains.

Kiln-dried pine or aspen bedding is safe and recommended wood bedding. This bedding may provide almost the same advantages that you get from paper bedding. But, you can’t use cedar and unprocessed pine shaving, as they contain volatile oils that can be life-threatening for your guinea pigs.

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