Advice On Diet

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Advice On Diet

Post by animal addict on Tue Aug 28, 2012 3:45 pm

Diet

This is probably one of the most discussed topics and one that causes a lot of uncertainty in owners. Diet has a huge contributory part in the health and well being of our spiky friends so it is of little wonder why we question ourselves so much about what, when and why we are feeding what we do!! Some confliction comes from our American counterparts as they have a tendency to class even our more expensive brands as ‘junk foods’. The USA generally has a much wider choice of cat food brands available to them and the ones they recommend as the best for APH are not found in the UK therefore we have to work with what we have available to us.


The Basic Diet

First and foremost the main staple of APH are non fish based dry cat food biscuits and any biscuits that we feed must be within the 10% fat and minimum 30% protein ranges and the more meat or meat meal content the food has the better quality it is deemed to be. Any foods within these ranges on the UK market at this present time are suitable for APH. Some suitable foods include protein levels of 40%-45%. High levels of protein can be hard on the kidneys so they are not recommended to be fed exclusively but can be used successfully as part of a mix. Some people use just one singular brand of food but others people recommend using a mix of foods for several reasons –

a) It adds variance into the diet to prevent boredom

b) It gives you the ability to mix and match foods to ensure a wide range of nutrients and to balance out levels – e.g. a higher fat content can be balanced out by adding a lower fat content food to the mix and similarly with protein levels

c) If a food is discontinued it means that your hedgie doesn’t have to change food suddenly

This seems to be very much down to personal choice between owner and hedgie – it is important to note that if using a mix to be aware that your hedgie is eating all parts of the mix and not selectively eating. Kitten food is not advisable on a long term basis because it is higher in fat than normal cat biscuits and often contains milk. Cat biscuits should always be free fed unless your hedgie is on a weight reducing regime. Providing a diet high in fat increases the risk of obesity and also Fatty Liver Disease. Foods aimed at our native wild hedgehogs, such as Spike’s Delight, are NOT suitable for APH – they contain a mix of nuts and seeds which are a choking hazard.


APH are insectivorous by nature and therefore it is important to include a certain level of bugs in our hedgie’s diet. This can be in the form of meal worms, crickets, small locusts, cockroaches and waxworms. Foods such as waxworms are very fatty and should only be fed rarely as treats. Mealworms are a great bribery aid for an owner with a new or huffy hedgie and can also be fattening so it is advisable to feed only 5 - 10 per day depending on size. Hedgehogs who struggle to maintain body weight, i.e. ‘runner’ hogs (those who are very active on their wheels etc) can have a few more than the recommended daily allowance and those prone to obesity should stick to minimum quantities (2-3).

Bugs can be fed live, canned, dried or freeze dried. Live food typically has more benefits but only if they are gut loaded correctly. Gut loading is a process whereby the live food is fed a variety of fruit and vegetables prior to being fed to your hedgie. This means that the goodness consumed by the bugs is passed onto your hedgie – particularly helpful your hedgie is a picky eater. Live crickets can be stunned by placing them in the fridge for a few minutes until they have slowed down and then can be hand or tweezer fed. Worms and roaches can be put it bowls or hand fed. For the more squeamish – there is the option of feeding canned (can ‘o’ crickets, can ‘o’ worms, can ‘o’ locusts’) or dried bugs (dried mealies for wild birds are cheap to buy in bulk or freeze dried crickets)

Other supplements to your hedgie’s diet 2-3 times per week, includes a variety of plainly cooked meats, vegetables and fruit. Here is a list of some suitable items:

Meats                Vegetables                                Fruits
Chicken      Mashed Potato                            Melon
Lamb Mince       Carrots                                    Strawberries
Beef Mince       Scrambled/Boiled Egg (no milk)      Mashed Banana
                        Mashed Swede                          Apple
                            Broccoli                               Apricots
                          Sweetcorn                              Mango
                              Peas
This is list is not exhaustive but please check out the treats and toxic/unsuitable lists below for comparison. Meat can be dry fried or boiled until cooked with NO salt added. All cooked foods must be diced to an appropriate size and left to cool! Also as with any new foods please introduce things slowly and in minimal amounts until you are sure what you are feeding is agreeing with your hedgie’s digestive system to prevent/reduce the risk of diarrhoea.

Treats :


Treats are just that – foods that have little real nutritional benefit to our pets but something we like to feed as owners to treat them. These foods should be limited to a maximum of once a month to prevent obesity and the risk of health issues including fatty liver disease. Suitable treat foods include:

Wet cat food (preferably ones with a high meat content like pieces of shredded chicken). Wet cat food also has a high moisture content and will often give your hedgie loose and smelly stools (hence why in the treats section)


Organic baby food with no added salt



Toxic/Unsuitable Foods:



Grapes/Raisins – a cause of renal failure in small animals


Nuts and seeds – choking hazard


Milk – Hedgehogs are deemed as lactose intolerant


Avocado – potentially fatal for lots of small animals


Chocolate – unhealthy for obvious reasons

Citrus Fruits – too acidic


Onion/Garlic – too strong


Fish – It is believed that hedgies cannot digest fish or fishmeal properly.


Changing/Adding new Foods:



Upon purchasing your APH any good breeder or former owner will provide you with a supply of your hedgie’s current food. The move and consequent change in environment can upset their tummies and sometimes cause greeny tinged poop, therefore, it is best to minimise the changes as much as possible by feeding the same food for an initial period of time before changing or adding in new foods. Once your down to about half way of the food you have been given then it is ideal to start adding in small amounts of your chosen food, gradually building up the amount and by the time you have used up all of the original food, your hedgie should be happy and settled on their new diet.


Feeding schedules and food portions:

Despite much information about diets, many owners still query if they are doing it right so I thought I would add in an example of what I do – this isn’t to say this is the only or right way of doing it - its merely an example of how it can be done. None of my hogs are particularly interested in fruits so therefore I don’t make an issue out of this as I see fruit as being a fairly minimal part of their diet and any nutrients can be obtained through feeding it to any live food. Also I make ‘meals’ instead of one food type at a time so they are getting a variety each time.

Every day –
free fed biscuits (I used to use just one brand of biscuit but now I use a mix) and a small amount of meal worms ( approx. 10 per hog. If overweight then less.) and odd occasional baby locusts.

Every other day (sometimes every 2 days) I add in a ‘meal’ such as: Chicken and vegetables from the list (like a mini dinner), a bowl of crickets (I use freeze dried as some of mine won’t eat live crickets but eat live worms!!), potato cakes, a bowl of roaches, mince and egg sometimes with some veg in or a variation of the above such as a bowl of mince with a few extra mealies on top. They get treats (anything from the treats list) no more than once a month. I find alternating days between biscuits and meals works best as it spreads out the added extras evenly throughout the week and on one day they get meat such as chicken or mince the next time they will get bugs such as crickets to make sure they are getting an even balance of both.

With regards to food portions I personally use heaped teaspoons of each, e.g a spoonful of mince and a spoonful of egg (or veg etc) mixed up in a glass ramekin (or small ceramic hamster sized bowl) and this is usually enough for my hogs as they have their biscuits in situ also. Obviously as time goes on and you and your hedgie get used to each other you will find out what works best for you between you!!

Water


Fresh water on a daily basis is a must – tap water is fine!!

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Re: Advice On Diet

Post by SpikeyPrincess on Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:57 pm

Very useful I will definitely be giving my new baby more variety. Thanks x Laughing

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Re: Advice On Diet

Post by Caztek on Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:47 pm

Smile

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Re: Advice On Diet

Post by *Emma* on Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:01 pm

Really not sure about cottage cheese, yoghurt and cheese, they contain lactos as there made from milk, I've never know anyone in the uk to feed any of them

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Re: Advice On Diet

Post by enola69 on Sun Nov 10, 2013 3:32 pm

Thanks Emma - this is quite old now and it is always good to have a fresh pair of eyes on things.

Il see what the rest of the team say and make any suitable amendments.


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Re: Advice On Diet

Post by cocopopsarecool on Sun Nov 10, 2013 9:49 pm

with the new lactose free products available could they be given as occasional treats?

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Re: Advice On Diet

Post by animal addict on Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:53 pm

I dont know really - I guess it depends on the other ingredients?

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Re: Advice On Diet

Post by *Emma* on Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:42 pm

I dont think there would be any nutritional benefit of feeding any of the lactose free range or goats milk to adult hogs

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Re: Advice On Diet

Post by animal addict on Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:41 pm

The only benefit i could see re: goats milk for eg is bumping up a recovery diet for a sick and/or ailing hog rather than just using water to for example water down mushy food. I havent looked at the other additives tbh though to be able to properly comment or advocate it.

I personally prefer a lot more of a natural diet and supplementing with bugs and plain meats etc for healthy hogs and the chicken soup recipe and mushy bugs and/or biscuits for a poorly hog but I guess never say never.

As rach said this thread is quite old now - I wrote this about 5 ish plus years ago now? A lot of people then did use low fat cottage cheese and yoghurt in a tiny amount as a treat (talking edge of a teaspoon) and it was widely acceptable back then. In saying that I have never fed it and I doubt I would recommend it now because there are a lot more things that are more readily available. A few things have changed over the years - sawdust was acceptable until male hogs started getting problems with it being trapped in their sheaths and causing infections so that has been pulled as well - this just needs updating and its nice to see that some people still read these threads and point things out because tbh I havent re read this for a long time!

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Re: Advice On Diet

Post by rachel10 on Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:59 am

gonna try the veg and chicken dinners my hogs wont eat veg other than sweetcorn so its worth a go thank you
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