Feeding a hedgehog can be tricky. Besides, they are opportunistic feeders in the wild – consuming many insects that come their way. Replicating these foods is undoubtedly a challenge. Naturally, you may be wondering about dog food. It is a typical high protein, after all. Can you; should you feed it. Let’s find out!
So, can hedgehogs eat dog food? Hedgehogs can eat both dry and wet dog food. Dry food (kibble) is considered better because it generally contains more fiber (an essential nutrient for hedgehogs), stays fresh longer, and provides crunch (which helps to clean teeth). All kibble should be crushed to enable a hedgehog to eat it.
This may be of surprise to you, but dog food can actually be a great option for a hedgehog.
Can being the important word here.
Of course, not all dog foods, brands, and products are the same.
There are certainly better options, as we will soon discuss.
But, when you consider that dog food has been specially formulated to sustain and nourish a dog, it’s not really too hard to believe.
Sure, a hedgehog’s needs are different from that of a dog; but there is plenty of overlap too!
And in a similar way, hedgehogs can eat cat food too.
Nevertheless, let us take a closer look at the place that dog food can have in the diet of a hedgehog.
We’ll be looking at what brands are best if you did decide to do so!
So stick around; the health of a hedgehog could very well depend on it!
Should Hedgehogs Eat Dog Food?
Hedgehogs can eat dog food to obtain nutrition, but it is generally best offered as part of a much more varied diet. A diet that includes live insects, other protein sources (such as cooked chicken), vegetables, and a small amount of soft fruit is ideal.
In reality, dog food is just one potential option and food source.
Assuming that the dog food is of sufficient quality, of course.
Dog food is by no means essential.
The clues in the title; otherwise, it would be marketed at hedgehogs!
But that being said, when you look closely at what the better brands of food contain, you can start to see why it can have a place in the diet.
Most leading brands of dog food are high protein.
In fact, the better brands base their formulations around meats and leaner meats.
Good dog food brands also provide a decent source of good-quality and meat-derived fats, along with a range of vitamins and minerals.
And when we consider that a hedgehog should consume between 30-35% protein and 5-15% fat in the diet, it matches up pretty well.
Especially when you look at dog food brands such as this one on Amazon.
It helps that dog food is relatively versatile, stores well, and cost-effective too.
And it is for such reasons that dog food was introduced to hedgehogs to begin with.
However, there are some caveats here.
Cheap and low-quality dog foods and those that contain high amounts of additives, preservatives, and other suspicious ingredients should be avoided.
Just as you wouldn’t want to feed a dog a sub-par diet, the same should be applied to hedgehogs.
There’s also more to consider, such as dry vs. wet food – which we will look at in the next section.
What Dog Food Is Best For Hedgehogs?
The best dog food for hedgehogs is a high-protein dry kibble that has been sufficiently crushed. This will enable a hedgehog to fit the food into their mouths and obtain the nutrition they need.
Unfortunately, there have been a number of cases of malnourished hedgehogs. All of which were fed a kibble that was too large for them to eat.
But so long as a hedgehog can safely and effectively manage it, dry food is more optimal.
And here is why.
Dry dog food is much more fibrous. That’s what gives it the hard and solid texture.
And hedgehogs have quite a high requirement for fiber.
Just as Dr. Graffam discovered when researching the dietary needs of hedgehogs.
In fact, her team concluded that fiber is essential to their health, and they naturally consume significant amounts of it in the wild through their intake of insects.
At the same time, the fiber of dry dog food also helps naturally clean a hedgehog’s teeth, just as the exoskeletons (the hard shells of insects) would do so in the wild.
A diet that contains too many soft foods has been reported to lead to tooth and gum diseases in these small mammals.
Again, another point for dry dog food.
This is not to say wet dog food cannot be fed.
It just takes a little more thought.
It needs to be offered fresh, never left down for too long (as bacteria can grow), and it can quickly spoil.
The good news is wet dog food is very palatable for hedgehogs, and their keen sense of smell enables them to be drawn to it.
Wet dog food is an excellent treat and a means of offering variety; it also has a place in the diet of hedgehogs with dental or other health issues.
How Much Dog Food Can A Hedgehog Eat?
Hedgehogs can be given 1-2 tablespoons of wet dog food twice per day. Although for dry crushed kibble, a small serving can be put down for a hedgehog to eat throughout the day.
Hedgehogs actually do pretty well on a free-feeding schedule, and dry food is ideal for this means of eating.
So long as no other animals, such as dogs or even cats, can access or are drawn to such foods.
Wet dog food is a little more challenging because it spoils. You need to be mindful of this – especially in very hot or even very cold weather.
One thing to consider here is the recommendation for 1-2 tablespoons of dog food is just a guideline.
The precise amount of food a hedgehog should be eating will depend on the brand of food, the age of the hedgehog, their level of activity, and their health status.
Therefore, small and growing hedgehogs will have a larger appetite and require more food than a much older, less active hedgehog, for instance.
So, feeding is something that will change over time.
And of course, a vet can always answer questions and provide their expertise on any dietary-related questions.
One thing to consider, it would be much better if dog food was not fed exclusively to a hedgehog. This is even more true in the case of wet dog food.
If you can offer other protein sources (such as lean meats) and a generous supply of live insects, your hedgehog will be able to obtain much more nutrition.
Try to remember that hedgehogs are insectivores by nature and the more you can replicate their native diet, the better.
And lastly, if you do not want to offer dog or cat food, consider that there are now specialist hedgehog food brands on the market.
These have been designed to meet the needs of these small mammals, without all of the issues of kibble size, food spoiling etc.
This is the one from Amazon to take a look at and consider:
- HIGH PROTEIN BLEND: A healthy mix of poultry, seafood, and mealworms keeps your hedgehog full of energy, and they're sure to love other tasty ingredients like beet, kelp, and flax
- SUPPORTS HEALTHY TEETH: Crunchy textures encourage the chewing necessary to wear down incisor teeth, which continue to grow throughout your hedgehog's life
- UNIFORM PELLETS: With food pellets that all look and feel the same, you don't have to worry about your hedgehog's selective feeding preventing them from getting the nutrition they need
- NUTRIENT FORTIFIED: With Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12, Taurine, Niacin, Riboflavin, and Amino Acids, plus probiotics to support healthy digestion
- ONLY THE GOOD STUFF: Premium hedgehog pet food free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and added sugars
Hedgehogs can eat dog food. Should they? Well, it depends on the circumstances.
It depends on the hedgehog, it depends on availability, and most importantly, it depends on the type of dog food.
Some brands of dog food are much better than others.
And at the same time, there are certainly ways you will need to prepare it, offer it, and be mindful.
Such as crushing up the kibble to a much smaller size, or not letting wet food spoil, for instance.
While there is some controversy about whether or not a dog or cat food should even be fed to these little insectivores, consider this:
Up until ever so recently, dog and cat food were routinely fed to hedgehogs.
It’s all that there was.
Specialist hedgehog food has only recently been introduced to the market or become widely accessible.
Before then, there was little choice.
And it was a means of offering the best you could.
And dog food does tick a lot of boxes.
Such as protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats (which hedgehogs do need).
It’s no surprise that the inclusion of dog food in the diet is endorsed by the largest animal welfare charity in the UK (the RSPCA).
If you can offer live insects, lean poultry, and a small amount of soft fruit and vegetables, all nutritional needs should be well and truly covered.
Hedgehogs can eat dry dog food so long as it is crushed down into small and manageable pieces. Hedgehogs have very small mouths, and most kibble is too large as it comes. Dry dog food can be fed daily as part of a varied diet that includes insects, lean meats, and small amounts of soft fruit and vegetables.
Wondering what else a hedgehog will, can, and cannot eat? My following feeding guides may be of help:
- What Do Baby Hedgehogs Eat?
- Can Hedgehogs Eat Chicken?
- Can Hedgehogs Eat Cat Food?
- Can Hedgehogs Eat Bread?
- Do Hedgehogs Eat Their Young?
- Do Hedgehogs Eat Their Own Poop?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.