Is Straw Bad for Dogs? Is Hay Better For Dog Bedding?

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When deciding on bedding material for dogs, there are things to consider, like is straw bad for dogs?

Since dog beds can be quite expensive (and easily destroyed), some people look at straw bedding. It’s cheap and readily available. However, there are debates about whether this type of bedding material should be used to line a dog’s kennel. 

Straw generally consists of the dry stalks or stems that are left after plants have been harvested by mowing or grazing. Farmers often use bales of straw as livestock bedding because the air vents allow just enough circulation to keep the manure from getting too wet and smelly.

Straw doesn’t provide as much warmth as other materials, but it’s quite comfortable for your furry friend. On the downside, it doesn’t absorb moisture very well. Plus, it is much less durable than wood shavings and other types of bedding.

is straw bad for dogs

Straw Bedding for Dogs

Straw may work as bedding and can provide significant benefits when used correctly in a variety of different situations—like in an outdoor dog shelter during the wintertime when temperatures drop below freezing.

However, if we are talking about house training puppies, for instance, straw is not ideal because it can be difficult to clean when it gets wet.

Benefits of Straw Dog House Bedding

This material is cost-effective and natural for dog kennel bedding. 

You’ve probably noticed your furry friend digging around before finally plopping down to rest. This instinct in dogs helps them get comfortable and helps with temperature regulation. The great news about using straw bedding is that they can dig all they want and not ruin the bed like they can with cushions. 

It’s also soft and helps keep your dog cool during the summer (especially if you live in an area with high temperatures). It does not retain heat like fabric bedding might. 

Straw is especially beneficial for older dogs with joint problems because it doesn’t harbor bacteria as long as it comes from a good source. They won’t have to struggle against fabrics that are difficult to walk or stand on.

Drawbacks of Straw Dog House Bedding

It can be difficult to clean when wet, but you can always switch it with fresh bedding before it gets too dirty if needed.

A big complaint is that the straw gets very dirty and smelly very fast when used as dog house litter or kennel bedding. 

It also tends to attract and harbor fleas. If you live in an area with a lot of ticks, avoid using straw as the primary means of house training puppies. Additionally, straw doesn’t give off heat like many materials do, making it a bad choice for cold climates.

Just like we can have environmental allergies, so can dogs. Dogs can be allergic to the allergens in straw, and some dogs develop allergies after prolonged exposure to this type of bedding.

is straw bad for dogs

Signs of allergy to straw include:

  • Runny eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Skin irritation (including redness, itching, or swelling)

Try switching out the straw for a different type of hay if these signs develop. This may help relieve some of the issues.

Another case where you wouldn’t want to use straw bedding is if your dog likes to chew or eat things. He would most likely ingest the straw, and that could lead to serious health problems—even death. If this concerns you, you may want to avoid straw entirely.

Is Straw Bad for Dogs to Eat?

It’s important to remember that straw is not an edible material, so your dog should never be allowed to eat it.

While eating a little straw may not cause problems for dogs, it can become a choking hazard if they try swallowing too much of it at once. This could lead to abdominal issues or worse. Abdominal issues may include a twisted stomach, bloating, and vomiting.

Types of Straw Used for Dog Bedding

The most common straw used for dog bedding is warm-season grasses. Sometimes, cool-season grasses are used too, but the warm season ones are preferable. The difference is when they’re actively growing throughout the year. 

The two straws that are the best for dog bedding tend to be Indian grass and Big Bluestem. While these are the two most popular choices, you can use cool-season grasses like Timothy and Smooth Brome if need be.  

The four common types of straw you’ll see for sale are:

  • Oat straw
  • Wheat straw
  • Barley straw
  • Pine straw

Hay vs. Straw? Which Is Better?

If you’ve done any research on straw bedding for your dog, you’ve seen hay come up in the conversation. Even though they look similar, there is a difference between hay and straw, so which one is better for your pup?

The main difference is that hay is typically used for feeding horses and other livestock, while straw is leftover and dried stalks from crops. Since hay is more often than not a feeding supplement, you’ll want to go with straw for bedding if you’re between these two materials.

Plus, since hay is used for feeding, it’s likely to go bad more quickly than straw. Straw is dried out and usually lasts longer for bedding purposes.

is straw bad for dogs

Alternatives to Straw Bedding

Whether you can’t make it to the store to purchase more straw or don’t feel like using this type of bedding for your dog anymore, there are affordable alternatives you may want to consider. 

Most of these options you may already have lying around your home. Here are some great alternatives to a straw bed for your pup: 

  • Old sheets, blankets, and bedding
  • A fluffy and comfortably rug 
  • Wood chip bedding

If you want to go the traditional route and purchase a dog bed from the pet store, you should be able to find affordable options there or online.

Conclusion – Is Straw Bad For Dogs?

In conclusion, straw is an option for your pet if you’re looking to save money and want something relatively easy to switch out. Straw is one option that some pet owners choose because it provides environmental benefits in addition to insulation. However, don’t assume there are no risks because it is a natural material.

Your best bet is to try out different types of bedding (straw, shredded paper, shredded cardboard) to see what works best for both you and your pooch.

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BarkZine is a small team of devoted dog owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your pup! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.

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BarkZine is a small team of devoted dog owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your pup! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.