Hedgehogs are quite distinct from other pet animals and should be cared for as exotic animals.
It’s essential to take great care of their diet as they are extremely predisposed to various health issues.
They love to eat and can quickly put on excess weight.
Due to a lack of awareness among their owners, hedgehogs face numerous health problems being domesticated.
Can hedgehogs eat dog food?
It is not advisable to feed dog food to hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs consume a lot of protein in their natural habitat. They feed on insects, beetles, snails, and worms. Most dog foods don’t contain sufficient protein to feed hedgehogs.
Rather, they contain numerous other nutrients that are very unhealthy and hedgehogs can’t digest these foods.
Unhealthy ingredients in dog food
Dog foods are essentially nutritional for dogs only. They are produced to address dog health requirements such as moderating their energy levels and reducing their hair fall.
While dog foods are healthy for dogs, they are not so much for hedgehogs. Neither do they have the digestion capability or the particular health issues faced by dogs.
- Corn and grains – Corns and grains are high in fats that are not a great diet for hedgehogs. They find it extremely difficult to digest.
- Fish and seafood – Fish and seafood are not part of a natural diet for hedgehogs. These are also hard to digest.
- Chemical additives – Dog foods contain several chemical additives and sugars which are not unhealthy for dogs but can be extremely dangerous for hedgehogs.
The food that is served to a hedgehog should be very small in size.
Hedgehogs can’t chew and eat large-sized foods comfortably, therefore these are difficult to digest as well.
The problem with feeding dog food to hedgehogs is that the kibbles are large and suitable for dogs only.
Dog foods can be fed to hedgehogs only if the nutrition is more balanced for the hedgehogs.
This means that if dog foods are high in protein and low in fats and the above-mentioned components, then they can be used to feed hedgehogs.
Other unhealthy foods for hedgehogs
Before we mention all unhealthy and healthy foods, it is vital to take note of a key point concerning hedgehogs’ diet.
It should ideally comprise a 2:1 to 1:1 phosphorus to calcium ratio. Anything outside this specified range will cause health difficulties for hedgehogs.
Most harmful foods listed down below have very high or low phosphorus to calcium ratios and are, therefore, regarded as unhealthy.
However, this ratio is not the only reason why some foods can be unhealthy. There are several other causes as well and we have discussed them below:
- Milk – Milk carries lactose. Hedgehogs cannot digest natural sugars, especially lactose. Feeding milk to hedgehogs can cause diarrhea.
- Avocado – Avocados are dangerous for hedgehogs as they contain a toxin called persin.
- Bread – Hedgehogs cannot digest bread very well. It contains excessive fats which are not good for them.
- Raw meat – Just like their ancestors, hedgehogs are not accustomed to eating raw meat such as beef. This particular food contains a lot of proteins but the amount is a bit too much for a hedgehog.
- Citrus fruit – Most citrus foods are acidic. Thus, hedgehogs can’t digest them easily.
- Raisins – Hedgehogs can eat raisins but the problem with raisins is that they are not nutritious and hedgehogs aren’t interested in eating them.
- Onion – Onions are extremely toxic for hedgehogs. Their body will not react well if they’ll eat a single slice of onion.
- Grapes – Grapes can cause liver and organ failure if consumed by hedgehogs. The reason is that they are toxic and hazardous for hedgehog’s health.
- Nuts & seeds – Nuts and seeds are not life-threatening for hedgehogs and they can eat them. The reason they are on this list is that most nuts and seeds don’t have the recommended phosphorous to calcium ratio.
- Chocolate – Most chocolates have a chemical in them that can cause respiratory problems for animals including hedgehogs. Therefore it is not advised to feed chocolate to hedgehogs.
- Junk food – Most junk foods are deep-fried and contain high fats. These are extremely unhealthy for hedgehogs.
- Raw egg yolk – Egg yolks are high in fat and feeding raw egg yolks is not a good idea. You can only feed cooked eggs to hedgehogs and even then, egg whites are recommended.
- Spicy food – Spices alone or in foods are unhealthy for hedgehogs. They are difficult to digest and hence, not recommended.
- Pineapple – Pineapples, like several other fruits, are acidic and cause digestive problems for hedgehogs.
- Potatoes – Potatoes are high in calories and fats. Since hedgehogs already face obesity problems, it’s not advisable to feed potatoes to hedgehogs.
Healthy Foods For Hedgehogs
Feeding high-protein foods is always a good diet for hedgehogs.
In the wild, hedgehogs get their proteins by feeding on worms, caterpillars, millipedes, snails, mealworms, earthworms slugs, beetles, baby mice, and other small animals.
There are three common alternatives when serving pests to hedgehogs which include live pests, frozen and dried pests, and canned insects.
Pests are important for hedgehogs as their exoskeletons are a source of chitin which is good for hedgehogs.
Never serve the hedgehog pests that you squeezed yourself or obtained from a bait-shop as they can be carrying bacteria and poisons as well as parasites.
Cat food for hedgehogs
Hedgehogs can be fed poultry-based cat bread.
Cat food high in proteins and low in fats is a common substitute for hedgehog foods.
Obesity issues in hedgehogs
Hedgehogs are food enthusiasts. They will eat a lot of food and gain excess weight.
Therefore they face a lot of obesity problems. Obesity causes numerous health issues for hedgehogs. Even if they are served good and healthy food, this can still cause obesity.
Therefore, it is important to feed them the right amount of nutrients as well.
It is extremely vital to take good care of hedgehogs’ foods and nutrition.
Most of them face early death if they are kept and fed like other pets such as cats and dogs.
They are much more sensitive to toxic foods and find it extremely difficult to digest several foods.
Also, as we discussed earlier, they face obesity issues because of overeating. it’s important to engage them in some playing activity.
Build a home for them and give it a natural and wild feel.