Can a hedgehog eat cat food or dog food?

Hedgehogs can eat dog food or cat food – but some caution is to be exercised.

Each class of animal has its own:

  • unique nutritional profile (required balance of minerals, vitamins, protein, carbohydrate, fats etc.),
  • physical dimension (size)
  • palate (sense of taste)
  • digestive make-up (ability to breakdown food material)

These all play an important part in what type of food will suit it best.

Size

Firstly, comparing a hedgehog to a dog or cat – we immediately see the size difference.

Hedgehogs by comparison are considerably smaller.

Portioning cat or dog food for a hedgehog

This means the size of serving that a hedgehog could eat at any given sitting would be considerably smaller than for a dog or cat.

How much can a hedgehog eat?

Hedgehogs will typically eat about 100g of food per day, which is about a sixth of their ideal hibernation body weight.

Therefore make this a consideration when plating up their food.

Why?

Because if you over do it, excess dog or cat food left out for prolonged periods, like days (especially if moist!), can quickly become mouldy and infested with bacteria.

If your hedgehog were then to eat compromised foods (mouldy or decaying) – this could lead to poor health.

Hedgehogs chewing and swallowing particle size of dog or cat kibble

Kibble (or processed pet food pellets) typically found in dry cat or dog food can be a little difficult for our small hedgehog friends to chew. This is because of their size.

Also, at times kibble pellets which are too large to swallow or get stuck in the roof of the hedgehog mouth – which can lead to episodes of choking.

This is to be avoided.

Ingredients

Poor quality cat and dog food can have, in return, a poorly balanced nutritional profile.

Usually packed with a lot of filler material like starchy carbohydrates or corn, they can do the job of filling up the hedgehog, but without benefiting them with the required nourishment.

Actually, by ratio, the crude levels of required food nutrition is not that different between cats, dogs and hedgehogs.

Therefore cat food or dog food generally are suitable for hedgehogs to feed on.

Before the recent commercial manufacture of specialist hedgehog foods, people used a bit of dog food or cat food quite comfortably for wild hedgehogs.

The issue always, however, is quality. Quality counts.

Feeding pregnant hedgehogs or those going into hibernation

Because of the increased nutritional demands of hibernation and pregnancy – hedgehogs in such condition will require perhaps a 10% increase in protein, calories and fats.

This is to build up their stores for meeting metabolic demand, presented by those particular phases of thrir life.

Best types of meat to feed hedgehogs

Chicken is by far the most popularly quoted meat which favours the hedgehog diet.

It chews easily and breaks down without any problem in the hedgehog’s gut.

Are wet or dry cat and dog foods best for hedgehogs?

Wet food would be best for hedgehogs generally.

They can bite into it much more easily than large pieces of dry food.

Especially if a hedgehog has dental problems, like missing teeth, the wet food is best.

It is also good to mix it up a little though…

…offering food with some crunch is good.

But not too much because the continued abrasion against the teeth can wear them down.

Conclusion

If you were thinking to feed wild or domesticated hedgehogs with dog or cat food, so long as it’s quality and portioned correctly…

…then this is generally advised as suitable.

Do you have any experience which you would like to share on this topic?

Join the conversation below.


References:

https://www.brinvale.com/blog/175-what-do-you-feed-hedgehogs.html

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