Harnett County, North Carolina
 
Cooperative Extension 
 
Can I use cedar chips as bedding in my dog's house?

Question Can I use cedar chips as bedding in my dog's house?

Answer I guess the cedar part of this question relates it to horticulture. Actually, this question has been debated by hunters and other dog owners for years. The primary reason is the dog's sense of smell. Most hunting dogs rely on their sense of smell and not their sight to "hunt". Even non-hunting dogs have very good noses. Some people worry that the strong smell of the cedar chips could overload a dog's nose and therefore dull the dog's ability to smell. Pet owners sometimes think that it's just torture to make a dog sleep in such a smelly situation with their sensitive nose.

Most dog owners don't consider their pet's nose. They simply buy cedar chips because it makes their dog smell like the chest where they keep their wool blankets. Some pet owners do realize that fleas, flies and mites don't particularly like cedar chips. Straw and hay are more likely to harbor fleas and mites than wood chips of any type.

Cedar wood contains organic compounds called thujaplicins. These compounds or oils give off that distinct cedar aroma. It may be pleasant to humans but it is a deterrent to insects, moths and wood decaying fungi. This compound makes cedar the choice material for closet liners and blanket storage chests.

According to veterinarian Mike Richards, cedar shavings may cause a contact allergy in some dogs. This is due to the aromatic oil in the chips. Dogs with this problem usually have itchiness and sometimes hair loss. Have a veterinarian determine whether your dog's symptoms are a result of an allergy to cedar chips or some other pest.

If your dog does not chew his bedding, then there are various cushions that can be used. If your pup does chew and eat it's bedding, then foam or synthetic fiber is not recommended. Avoid synthetic fibers for chewing dogs because they cannot be digested and can cause a blockage of the digestive tract. Dogs typically will not eat materials like cedar chips or pine needles.

Outdoor dogs need material in their doghouse to help them retain body heat. Dogs can suffer from hypothermia and frost bite just like humans. Here are a few other tips to consider when winterizing your dog's dwelling. Doghouses should be large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around comfortably, but small enough to retain the dog's body heat. Wooden doghouses should be raised a few inches off of the ground to prevent rotting and keep out rain. Wash dog blankets every few weeks so they don't get stiff with dirt. Keep cold air from blowing through the doghouse by covering the door with a plastic flap. You can use a car mat, a piece of plastic carpet runner, or even a piece of carpet. Dogs need more food in the winter because it takes calories to keep warm. Lastly, check your dog's water bowl daily to be sure it isn't frozen.

It appears that the pros outweigh the cons in reference to cedar bedding. For information about planting cedar trees, call me at 910-893-7533, write me at PO Box 1089, Lillington, NC 27546 or email me at gary_pierce@ncsu.edu Instead of chasing rabbits, I wonder if a dog sleeping on cedar chips dreams of continually running in a little wheel that never moves forward or backward. After all, he smells like a hamster.