See also: Caging
It is important to provide your animal with suitable bedding, for comfort and for protection from injury. The needs of each species, breed and type of animal can differ, so the bedding must be selected with the individual animal's needs and type of housing in mind.
Several general points can be listed, which are common to all terrestrial species of domestic animal:
- The bedding should be kept clean.
- The bedding should be dry.
- The bedding should not be exposed to rain.
- The bedding should not be mouldy or excessively dusty.
- The material chosen should not be toxic and should not be contaminated with potentially toxic substances.
- The material should provide a comfortable surface upon which to lie.
- The material should be chosen for the degree of wear and tear to which it will be subjected, i.e. does the animal lie on it or make nests; is it a heavy or a light animal, does the species tend to defaecate and urinate off the bedding or on the bedding; is the individual a clean or dirty example of its species; is the animal on the bedding for 24 hours per day or only ‘as needed' or ‘as wished'; is it to be a ‘deep litter' bed; does the animal tend to eat bedding material etc.?
- If bedding is washable, it should not be washed in petrochemical reagents or detergents. Use ecological washing powder or liquid.
- In horse stables, wood shavings can allow ammonia production more than most other types of bedding. Shavings may not be good for hoof health.
Pigs love to nest in loose straw.
Dogs are fine on a folded blanket or cotton sheet (heavy-duty organic cotton sheeting available for this purpose) but it should not placed directly on a damp floor (e.g. old flagstones).
Cats love to nest in warm, cosy places and they love cardboard boxes or enclosed beds. They may also favour high positions in a room or enclosure.
Horses will usually do well on deep-litter hemp bedding, if required. Rubber mats under loose straw are also good, especially in front of the door, where a horse will spend much of his time.
In our quest for a full analysis of a patient's circumstances, the holistic vet or homeopathic vet needs to enquire into all areas of the animal's life and life style. This includes bedding.
The AVMC is willing to offer advice on all aspects of bedding, for the various species.