CareFRESH Pet Bedding

CareFRESH pet bedding is fabricated out of cellulose fibers, leftovers from paper production. It absorbs liquids very well.

But: Are CareFRESH beddings "the safest, healthiest pet bedding for your pet," as their packaging proclaims?  You decide...

I have nothing against CareFRESH and no reason to be negative. It's just that the science doesn’t apparently support some of their marketing statements, and you might like to know the facts.

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CareFRESH does a great job soaking up liquids and urine, however according to four studies, it provides almost NO ammonia control. 

See the study results at our Rabbit Litter page.

If you'd like to read the text of the entire study, you can read or download the PDF here.

CareFRESH Used to Offer a Blended Product

Since this page was originally written, CareFRESH introduced several brand-new products to the marketplace:

  • Carefresh Basic Blend: a mix of 30% Carefresh and 70% softwood shavings (pine)
  • Carefresh Shavings Plus Pet Bedding: a mix of 10% Carefresh Colors (blue) and 90% pine shavings

This was very good news for pet rabbit owners (and rats, mice, gerbils, etc.), and an oblique admission regarding the ability of the 100% CareFRESH products to control ammonia. Keep reading, because scientific studies will reveal to you exactly why Absorption Corporation created these new CareFRESH products.

I choose to stick with straight pine shavings, but if you really like CareFRESH pet bedding, we used to suggest purchasing one of the blended bedding products, or ensure adequate ventilation and frequent litter changes. But, as of 2023, it seems this option is gone. Keep reading, because I have another idea, below...

(2018 Update: Only one Carefresh Pine blend is currently on the market - it's the one with 90% pine shavings.)

(2023 Update: CareFRESH seems to have pulled all Blend products from the market, perhaps because the optics were not good?)

So, what about the 
100% CareFRESH pet bedding products?

In my opinion, the CareFRESH marketing spin-doctors were walking a very fine line across the back-of-the-package advertising on the original products. 

"CareFRESH Ultra suppresses the formation of ammonia, the primary odor caused by pet urine." 


Carefresh blends control pet ammonia buildup better

In four separate tests, CareFRESH Ultra ranked off the charts in parts-per-million of ammonia. The scientists called an early halt to the first test, as ammonia levels exceeded an average of 200 ppm within 2 weeks (as compared to 13.2 ppm after 3 weeks for pine shavings). Surprised, the researchers repeated their tests three different ways.  In all cases, CareFRESH bedding failed remarkably to control ammonia. This is all documented in the above study.

Why would this be?  Pine and certain other wood fibers have natural properties that either fix the nitrogen in urine, preventing the formation of ammonia, or inhibit the bacteria that convert the urine into ammonia. According to the science, CareFRESH fibers may not perform either function, despite the assertions on their packaging.

CareFRESH Natural "works to suppress the formation of ammonia, the primary odor."  Given the scientific results, we're not surprised at their wording - 'works to suppress....'

Failure to prevent, inhibit or control ammonia is far more concerning than any of the hype about pine and cedar aromatic oils, which you can be sure CareFRESH mentions on every bag of product...  "CareFRESH is processed to remove potentially harmful aromatic hydrocarbons that exist in pine and cedar oils.

CareFRESH Pet Bedding "lasts twice as long as shavings so you save time and money."  But, that little problem with ammonia means you've got to clean out the litter twice as frequently.  Doh...there went the savings.

Petco dedicates huge shelf-space to CareFRESH. Nevertheless, heat-treated pine shavings and the other rabbit beddings may be superior for your needs.

  • The Rat Lady (Debbie Ducommun) noticed that rats bedded in CareFRESH tended to sneeze.
  • According to their online comments, rat owners who switched away from CareFRESH noticed that their rats stopped sneezing.
  • I spoke with Tom, a Petco employee at the store in my neighborhood. He informed me that Petco beds their larger rodents and ferrets in their store brand bedding. "It’s the same thing as CareFRESH," he said. However, Petco doesn’t let their employees use the CareFRESH product for the littlest rodents.  Their protocol is to use pine shavings as bedding for the mini-hamsters and mice, as they noticed respiratory problems with CareFRESH-type bedding.

Bedding and Litter Choices

Newer CareFRESH Bedding Product

How would our pet rabbits fare? High ammonia is a well-known predisposing factor for snuffles. With virtually 100% of rabbitries already carrying pasteurella multocida germs (according to Rabbit Production), it is clear that your rabbit needs environmental ammonia levels at a minimum for optimal health.

CareFRESH currently offers a "Nesting" bedding made out of dust-free white natural paper. It is still 100% paper. They use 25% larger pieces in this bedding, and still claim "odor control" for 10 days. It is not readily evident to me whether the changes made would actually function to reduce ammonia levels. If you are using this product for your pet rabbits, let us know what you think about it!

The KEY to using CareFRESH Pet Bedding is ventilation and frequent litter changes

Are you using CareFRESH?  Now you know its downside, and can make the necessary adjustments.  Your pet rabbit will be fine if you take these precautions:

  • Change the entire bedding at least every week – twice a week is better. This is to ensure the ammonia levels stay under control. By removing the urine frequently, very little ammonia can form.
  • Only use it in wire cages and keep the cage in well-ventilated open spaces.  Don’t use CareFRESH Pet Bedding in 3-sided solid-floored rabbit hutches, glass aquariums or enclosed plexiglass cages, lest the resulting high ammonia levels inflame your pet rabbit’s lungs.
  • Keep your rabbit’s litter box in a very well ventilated room.
  • Owners of rats, hamsters, mice, gerbils and the like might consider avoiding CareFRESH altogether.

Make Your Own Mix of Pine Shavings and CareFRESH!

If you love CareFRESH, whether the softness or the colors, you could blend your favorite CareFRESH bedding with pine shavings (25% CareFRESH with 75% pine shavings). It's slightly more work, but you'll get the best of both worlds - your favorite beautiful and soft bedding, and the ammonia-killing value of pine shavings.

Enjoy your rabbits!

Comments? Experiences? Questions?

Perhaps you have observations or experiences that can help others. We'd like to hear them.

So, thanks in advance for your comments, and if you have pictures, you can post up to four of them.

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

My hamster died after being exposed to Carefresh Advanced Odor Contol 
I purchased the purple Carefresh advanced odor Control with baking soda, premium soft pet bedding. Darling healthy hamster is now dead. No other explanation. …

Click here to write your own.

See Rabbit Bedding for other recommended bedding choices

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