Wanted to quickly post about carefresh bedding, since a lot of people have been putting it down on their adoption forms lately.
Carefresh, just as a quick reminder for those that are unsure, is a recycled paper bedding sold at most major pet retailers, which is touted as being "the best" at keeping down odor and mess. Super absorbent stuff. It's recycled paper, so it has no smell or anything like that, so the people who don't like the smell of pine, often love this stuff. This stuff:
Carefresh is safe bedding for your small animal, IF (and that's a big IF) they don't eat / ingest it.
If the chin (or any small animal really) decides the carefresh is tasty little popcorn kernels and decides to start chowing down, the same absorbency that causes carefresh to absorb their pee so well and keep the smell down so well.... causes it to swell. That's fine in a chin cage, but in their intestines, that can cause a blockage, also known as an impaction.
If the chin / small animal gets impacted, they typically stop eating, as the food particles start backing up in their body. So,.. they feel full and the food can't move out of their stomach (if they're backed up enough). Vets prescribe motility meds like reglan and cisapride (for upper and lower digestive tract, though don't ask me which is which) to keep the digestive tract moving, and suggest stomach massages, playtime, anything to help try to re-start the digestive system, because if it sits long enough, then you deal with stasis, which is another problem. But let's avoid that for a second, let's just assume we just have a blockage due to carefresh or plastic or something else. You will be force-feeding the chin critical care and the motility meds for weeks / months, dealing with the tiniest of poos that may make their way out, hoping to re-start everything... and if you do, great. In reality... most chins / small animals will die of an impaction, possibly without even discovering what it is.
The manufacturers of carefresh know that this is a problem. Know how I know? Because they let you know, right on the bag:
In case that's not coming up as being super readable on your screen, the relevant part reads:
"...there is a potential risk of impaction if your pet ingests a sufficient amount of bedding. Observe your pet and seek veterinary care if you suspect impaction of the GI tract."
So... if you put down carefresh as your bedding-of-choice on your adoption form, I will mention this (cliff notes version, anyway), and will highly suggest you either be super diligent of your chin's behavior and eating habits while using it.... or not use it at all.
While I have never had an issue with carefresh, that's because... I almost never use it. You knew that was coming, didn't you? I only use it in cages where the pan is several inches below the chins / critters and the chins /critters cannot reach the bedding. I have two cages like this -- the pagoda-type cage I have right at the entrance, which is typically used for chins that I am chin-sitting, and the prairie dog cage. I will also use it for guinea pigs, which I don't find tend to eat the bedding and don't feel the need to taste-test everything put in front of them. Oh and would you care to know why I use it at all, knowing what I do? Because people donate it! I want to say that carefresh is the bedding that is brought in most often with chinchilla surrenders to the rescue. For the sake of not just throwing away something that people spent their hard-earned money to buy, I use it for the few cages which I can, which are safe to use it in... but for most cages, it's not safe, in my opinion. I've usually got a pretty good stockpile of it, since I can't use it for most cages that I have here. But... some people choose to use it, and for those, I just want them to be aware that there may be potential risks with that. Hence, this post.