The CareFresh/Aspen/PetCo Softwood Fiasco

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Chin Newbie
Jan 4, 2017
Long Island, New York
So my boyfriend and I took our 9 week old chin, Miles, for a vet appointment on Wednesday. Just to get him checked out, make sure his weight was good and to ask a few questions about how we're feeding him and stuff like that.

I told the vet I was using aspen bedding and she recommended Carefresh instead. She really insisted it over Aspen because of the dust Aspen creates. Carefresh scared me because of things I had read on these forums and other places online. Him eating it and it causing impaction where he could die was too much of a risk in my mind. But I didn't question the vet. I trust a doctor over my own paranoia :p

... Last night I go to PetCo after work, buy him Carefresh and head home. I lock him in the upper portion of his CritterNation cage and start to work on the bottom where his bedding is. Clean out all the bedding, wipe down his fleece, re-arrange his toys, put in some fresh hay. Excitedly, I let the ramp free so he can go explore his fresh new bottom level and the little bugger immediately runs down there grabs a piece of CareFresh and starts chomping on it. I watched him for a sec to see if he would really eat it and he was devouring it. I took it away from him, and all he did was run to another part of his cage and start eating it again.

This makes me nervous... I call the vet. I ask if it's OK if he's eating the CareFresh (I already know from my research that is it NOT OK - but I am curious if she'll be the stubborn kind of doctor that always has to be right or if she'd reconsider her recommendation) right away she said, 'No, we really don't want him eating that. You're definitely going to want to take it out if he's eating it because he might eat a lot while you're not there and we don't want to have to worry about him. I'm sorry to say this but you should just go back to using Aspen - but try to rearrange his cage so he's not sleeping in it'

I'm really impressed with the doctor and feel good that she's taking care of my animal. Without skipping a beat its back in the car, back to to Petco. I ask the Sales Associate for Aspen bedding but she brings me something that says it's made of 'Softwoods' I cannot see anywhere on the package what exactly the wood is but there is a picture of a chin on the label. It's called soPhresh. I think about it for a second... But tell the Associate, No that I really just want Aspen because I know for a fact that it's safe.

So I get home with my Aspen, remake his cage, and the little buddy is happy happy happy. Romping around and making his little chitter-squirrely noises. And then this little jerk (and I truly mean that in the most loving way possible) finds what must be the ONE morsel of CareFresh left in his cage and starts eating it. I can tell its CareFresh because I bought the bright blue one lol. And I grab it from him and throw it away. lol <3

I did some research today and I found out that SoPhresh, the softwood bedding that the Associate recommended to me, is made with Pine, Fir and Spruce - those woods are toxic to Chinchillas from what I understand?

I don't blame the Associate at the PetCo - she was probably about 18 years old and like her, when I see a picture of a Chinchilla on a label I'll assume it's a safe product for them to use. It concerns me that PetCo sells this bedding like that... I feel like I really narrowly dodged a bullet there, almost having to do his cage over THREE times instead of just two!!! lol... I did a google search and saw that the topic of the SoPhresh came up a few years ago on these forums, I find it concerning that someone else may buy it and it hurt their Chinchilla...

Anyway... That's my story of my chaotic Thursday night. :)

Here's some pics of his cage, all fresh right after I cleaned it. Feel free to criticize it if you'd like. He's a new addition to my life so I'm still in the process of buying him stuff, but I think I have the basics down pat :)



Actually that softwood bedding should be ok, pine, fir, and spruce are safe so long as they are kiln dried, the problem is if they are fresh. Bedding shavings are going to be kiln dried, otherwise they would get moldy too quickly.

The dust from the bedding isn't as much of a problem for chinchillas as it is for other rodents. Chins don't make nests and sleep in the shaving, so the layer of shavings isn't normally deep like you would use for a hamster or gerbil for example. They also don't tend to burrow and root around in the shavings like other rodents, and they hold their heads higher off the ground.

No pics showed up on your post. The forum does seem to have issues with it's photo posting, so it's best to upload them to a outside photo sharing site and then link the pics here.