Is wood varnish safe for piggies?

Ryan.w

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I've heard seen this story quite a few times on various websites, but i've not yet seen a certain answer.
I recently built a hutch with my dad, and he insisted on painting the wood with a varnish. I told him it was best to avoid it and i didn't want him to but he did regardless.
He painted it almost a month ago, and it still smells incredibly powerful. It has been under cover in the sun for weeks.

I asked him about the varnish and he's told me it's some kind of linseed mixture.
I've heard that pigs can get respiratory infections very easily and i'm quite reluctant to get any piggies until i know the home will be safe for them.
Please help.
 

SkyPipDotBernie

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All i know is, every hutch i have seen for sale in shops is not varnished. Its normally painted outside only, to stop rott. I wouldnt let them breathe in varnish. You might have to sand it all back and start again with some sort of hired power tool to make it easier
 

The2musketeers

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All i know is, every hutch i have seen for sale in shops is not varnished. Its normally painted outside only, to stop rott. I wouldnt let them breathe in varnish. You might have to sand it all back and start again with some sort of hired power tool to make it easier
I'm a little late, but I agree. Piggies shouldn't breathe that in. If you don't mind your guinea pigs being inside then I recommend using a c and c.
 

Darcey15

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I also agree, if it still smells after a few weeks in the sun and you think its strong then it most definately will be worse for piggies. Maybe sand it down and put some pet safe preservative on it instead which will be free of solvents & any nasties- I assume your Dad was trying to make it water proof but there are products out there as I was looking recently for my outdoor run which is looking a bit weather beaten.

Great that you are being such a responsible owner before you've even got your pigs :)
 

MMasters

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I have raised guinea pigs for 15 years and I also do a lot of woodworking. The ONLY safe product for guinea pigs is organic natural vegetable or fruit dye. These are the dyes used in making traditional Persian rugs. That said, you can probebly use a "top oil", which dries to a clear hard finish if your guinea pigs tend not to be chew monsters. The Lounge Pet Cottage, which is a high quality 2-level cottage style cage, made in China, is whitewashed and I've never heard of anyone who uses this cage to have health problems if the piggies nibble on the wood. What you should NOT do is use a thick layer of paint or vanish because even after it is dry, it will continue to release toxic fumes called "VOC", which means "volatile organic compounds". In this case, "organic" refers to the chemical structure. In chemistry, any substance that has carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen as part of its molecular structure is considered an organic compound. A volatile organic compound is a chemical that reacts with air and evaporates. So, the biggest danger in using paints and vanishes is the continual release of toxic fumers over time. That is probably why your father wanted to use wood oil instead of regular varnish or paint. Wood oil is also a VOC, but it is probably not as harmul as furniture paint or varnish. Keep in mind that the paint you use inside your home on the walls and ceiling contains VOC. It's not healthy for you or your pets. However, because you have a large body (compared to your little guinea pig), it would take a lot of VOC to make you sick. Your guinea pig, because he is small, only needs to breathe a little bit of VOC to make him sick. That is why pet owners are advised to use NO VOC paints, which are made without VOC. I live in Finland and I haven't been able to find these paints, but they are available in the USA. An alternative to painting the walls in your home is to use wallpaper. There is an "old fashioned" glue made from natural ingredients that works very well as a wallpaper paste. If you are worried about your guinea pigs chewing the bottom of the wallpaper near the floor, you can install wood time (baseboard), which can be affixed with carpenter's glue.
 

MMasters

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As long as we're on tis subject, teflon when heated and some oils when heated are dangerous for pets. Replace all your teflon cooking pans with stainless steel. For your making pans, replace them with stainless steel or silicone. Check your oven to see if it has teflon "self-cleaning" panels and take them out. If you have a self-cleaning oven, don't use the self-cleaning option. Clean it yourself the old fashioned way. Don't cook with hot oils. If you bake oily food (such as a pork roast), turn on the stove hood to capture the fumes or open a window (be sure to keep your guinea pigs away from any drafts caused by opening a window). The reason is that hot teflon releases dangerous fumes that can kill pets. Hot cooking oils release fumes that can kill a guinea pig. Years ago, I didn't know this. I had just imported the texel boar of my dreams. About year later, he died suddenly. I'm sure now it was the fumes from cooking that killed him. After that, I made some big changes in my cooking and baking pans and the way I prepare food. I've never encountered a problem with my ceramic stove. So, I question the research that says ceramic stoves are also dangerous for pets. The top is glass and the ceramic coils which heat the stove are fully enclosed. If anyone has information about ceramic stoves, please post it here. I've used my ceramic stove for 11 years and no apparent guinea pig health problems. But for sure, get rid of your teflon and make sure you provide fresh air if you cook with hot oils or bake food that has a strong aroma (particularly roasting or baking meat).
 
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