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Old 08-24-2013, 09:14 PM   #11 (permalink)
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All I can think is that if people were having negative effects it was due to unlimited Protein levels? Taking an extreme after another extreme didn't work because they fed foods with protein levels much higher than is recommended for a hedgehog? Could that be it?
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Old 08-24-2013, 11:39 PM   #12 (permalink)
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My breeder has this same view, and I'm really confused, because I'm being told so many different things. People on here have told me that the food I got from my breeder is terrible and shouldn't be fed, but my breeder has been breeding for a long time, and explained to me that since hedgehogs aren't carnivores (unlike cats) they can't digest the very high quality meaty protein sources in high quality cat foods (causing liver problems). So how am I supposed to know who to listen to?
Both opinions have logical reasoning, and there is no definitive answer from lots of research like with many other pets.
I'd really appreciate more help than "that food is terrible, your breeder is wrong" because everything else I've learned from my breeder has been accurate and helpful.


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Old 08-24-2013, 11:42 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Toddo, if that picture of the baby is your hedgie, then we have the same breeder.
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Old 08-24-2013, 11:53 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Yes, that's my little Harold (just picked him up today, finally)!

I just wish that both sides of the debate weren't so sure the other side is so wrong. I feel like it's impossible to choose, because I know I shouldn't trust everything I read online, and (no offense, only because I'm still new here) I really don't know anyone on these forums or they're experiences, but also, I really don't know my breeder, and because these forums have been pretty closed on the issue of breeder reviewing (or breeder bashing, as it's been called) I feel like I have no way of knowing who I should actually listen to.


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Old 08-25-2013, 12:37 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Well, my breeder told me the same thing as far as what to feed. Purina Kitten chow and then switch over the Adult formula. After joining the board I was told here that Purina Kitten Chow was a terrible food so I switched her over to a mix of two high quality cat foods.
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Old 08-25-2013, 12:48 AM   #16 (permalink)
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There seems to be a lot of people on both sides of the debate, and with little actual research done, it's mostly a matter of how each person feels.

Personally, my problem with the lower-end foods is the quality of the ingredients - for most animals, corn doesn't have nutrition, which could serve the purpose of being roughage in the hedgehog's diet, like the breeders you guys have keep saying. That I can understand...my concern is that foods that use corn often have ingredients like "Poultry by-product" or "animal fat". They don't seem harmful, but their wording is so vague that you don't know what the source actually is - it's not required by the AAFCO definition that the animals providing that ingredient be specifically slaughtered for food. It can be dead, dying, or diseased animals that could have medications (specifically ones for euthanasia), parasites, etc. in them. Those could be rendered harmless by the process of making them into food...but that still troubles me. (This part is added in after edit) Yes, I know hedgehogs tend to eat from dead carcasses, etc. in the wild, but wild hedgehogs also only live 2-3 years at most. Considering we want our pets to live to the 4-6 year average, it seems reasonable to be more aware and picky about the safety & quality of the food they are getting, and to at least avoid ingredients that could have questionable origins like these.

A couple of things that could be compromises between both sides of the issue - either feeding better quality foods, while supplementing every night with veggies to add more roughage/fiber into the diet (which only works if hedgie is willing to eat them). Or feeding a middle-line quality food, something that may have some corn in the ingredients, but has named meats, fats, and/or by-products, as well as no food dyes (allergies), and no BHA, BHT, or Ethoxyquin (all linked to causing cancer) - something like Pro Plan, maybe. Another personal opinion - Science Diet and Royal Canin are a bit overrated. Their price is as expensive as a food using higher quality ingredients, which I find unnecessary.

Overall, it comes down to personal opinion, like any diet for any pet. We do encourage high quality food mixes on the forum here - and personally, to my memory in the 4 years I've been on here, I have not seen any posts or reports of hedgehogs having liver or kidney problems linked by a vet to a food mix that keeps the protein down between 30-35%. However for personal actual experience, I've only had one hedgehog, and haven't bred or owned multiple hedgehogs over a number of years like some breeders (or rescuers) have. I would guess the person that's most active on the forum that has owned hedgehogs the longest is Nancy. So her opinion & observations may be worth more on this subject than mine, for that reason alone.
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Old 08-25-2013, 03:31 AM   #17 (permalink)
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1. A lot of vets recommend against very much in the way of hard cat kibbles. They are considered as possibly quite hard on kidneys. My vet feels this way and suggested removing kibble altogether.

2. Kidney issues are a top cause of hedgehog deaths; up there with cancers and obesity.

.................................................. ..

3. Sophie began presenting blood in her urine. The amount increased. Then, the amount of fresh blood increased. Vet time. X-rays ruled out kidney stone, bladder stones, tumor. Additional tests ruled out UTI as well as several other possible issues.

4. Cause was believed to possibly be interstitial cystitis. Possible treatment; spaying. Ultrasound recommended for more detailed tests and results.

5. $1,000 in - and with spaying and related to be another $1,000 - and with ultrasound and related another $1,000 again.

6. I was kind of on my own at that point unless giving the vets (a specialist also) a blank check. Due to costs and the not-great-likelihood of success, I decided against proceeding further and readied to put her down myself if she began to show signs of suffering.

6. Not too long after this I added a canned food as part of a diet adjustment because she was starting to gain weight. There followed a significant drop in kibble consumption (which I was wanting). Shortly thereafter, there was a drop in the amount of blood in her urine. Hmm. (NOTE: At no point were discussions of kibble, kidney issues, and Sophie's issues connected and at the forefront of discussion. I came back round to this subject on my own and quite by accident.

7. I further increased canned food allotment, slashing kibble intake to almost nothing. Over a period of several weeks blood in urine (high, and increasing) has dropped more than 95%. (Pee is monitored in bath and also with a layer of white fleece over her litter pad. This allows me to get a good feel for amount of pee and coloring (shades of yellow, amount of brown blood, amount of fresh blood. I keep many notes.)

8. And this is where we are now. We are not far enough into the recovery to say if she is 'cured'. I cannot know how much damage has been done during the several months that she was presenting blood-in-urine.

9. Anything meaningful from the vet will run several hundred dollars in the blink of an eye, so I haven't been able to bring her in the loop of this possible major improvement of Sophie's condition and get additional advice/opinion. I do the best that I can and keep a ton of notes in Excel and Word files.

10. At one point I had some 'Notes' posts about our situation and the vet experience. It wasn't well received so I abandoned it. I may pull together a set of organized notes and put some of this on one of my own websites or blogs. That would be a lot of work, so it may not get off of one of my many lists.
.................................................. ..

Bonus video of Sophie; nail inspection/clipping and petting.
youtu.be/n2cXNNz-E4s

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Old 08-25-2013, 10:28 AM   #18 (permalink)
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That makes me wonder if it's just the kibble is too dry - I know someone (LizardGirl, probably) has said the problem with high protein is not enough moisture with it - that they can't drink enough to help their kidneys process it. They're just not built to process a kibble diet yet, so that's causing the kidney problems? That'd make more sense to me than the ingredients thing, other than needing more roughage/fiber (which we already know & why lots of insects are recommended, if at all possible).

GoodanPlenty - I'm curious, does she mostly eat the wet food during the first part of the night? Have you had any problems with it drying up too quickly or anything? I know one of the concerns about feeding it regularly is that it might go bad over the courses of the night, especially under heat, but other than that it sounds like a good solution as well. I know canned food is better for cats, due to the higher moisture (and cats don't drink much water since they would normally get a lot of moisture from prey).
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:52 AM   #19 (permalink)
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What canned food are you feeding her GoodandPlenty? I thought canned foods tended to have higher fat and protein amounts...?
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Old 08-25-2013, 12:51 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
That makes me wonder if it's just the kibble is too dry - I know someone (LizardGirl, probably) has said the problem with high protein is not enough moisture with it - that they can't drink enough to help their kidneys process it. They're just not built to process a kibble diet yet, so that's causing the kidney problems?
! ! ! ! ! ! When she got her battery of tests (more to eliminate things that could be causing blood-in-urine than specifically identify THE cause) - the one result that came back a bit off was that she is slightly dehydrated. Obviously, this could cause all kinds of problems for all kinds of reasons. When she was a baby she drank tons, around 60 ml a night. I use a ceramic crème brûlée dish with 1" sides and provide 160 ml of fresh water each day.

As an adult her water consumption dropped way down. For the last many months she is averaging a pitiful 13 ml per night. (I measure her water with a plastic graduated cylinder that I got from a laboratory supply house.) Given that she has access to lots of fresh water (good quality), getting more into her was obviously going to be a problem.

The vet strongly recommended moistening her kibble as much as possible in order to add moisture.

NOTE: I am amazed that at this point neither the vet nor myself made a direct connection regarding the possible threat that her kibble might represent! Our talk about the kibble and concerns in the veterinary community about kidney issues was as an aside, general husbandry discussion. Of course, we covered a lot of ground in a limited period of time. Such is life.

I told her that success with moistening Sophie's food was extremely unlikely. I did try - starting with a very minimal wetting (to the point of not even being useful) of her kibble. Not surprisingly, she refused to eat any kibble for several nights in a row. If it is even slightly moist she won't touch it. I did not want to go so far as to try and 'starve her out' with the aim of forcing her to eat moistened kibble.

I changed tactics and increased her baby food ration (Gerber and Beechnut - chicken and turkey selections). I began grinding a couple of grams of kibble to dust, mixing it into her baby food, and then thinning with as much water as possible without the mixture slumping into soup. This, she LOVES. Throughout, water consumption has remained at about 13 ml per night, on average. Kibble remained available as free-feed and primary food. Consumption did drop. The baby food mixture became her first choice.

When discussing husbandry and foods, the vet specifically recommended Mazuri as a good choice. (Said that a lot of zoos use Mazuri.) ???

They do have specifically mentioned:
http://www.mazuri.com/hedgehog.aspx

For a variety of reasons, I saw no need at the time to make a food change. Plus, for much of her life keeping weight up has been the challenge. She was a big runner but simply wasn't eating enough. With that finally in good shape, did I want to make a major diet change that she may not even accept? At the time, there was no compelling reason to do so. It seemed likely as not that I might add problems and solve none.

Fast forward (and some of these things overlap of course) - her running has dropped from three hours a night (every night) to just under one hour on average. She was by no mean overweight at 360 grams, but she was creeping up, gaining a few grams a week. For her, under about 320 grams seems a bit thin. At about 350 grams she starts feeling and looking fairly solid - as in my wondering how much more would be okay.

While researching options for kibbles that were lower in fat and protein, I was surprised to find choices about impossible to find. Also, I was warned that if I did find foods lower in fat and protein, that they may be high in carbohydrates - which defeats the purpose - and that unless one is an expert with ingredients, picking a kibble for diet is a huge problem. There is listing on packages for carbohydrates.

I found that the canned foods were way lower in fat and protein and got some to try. Sophie loves them all.

Natural Balance Turkey & Giblets
Natural Balance Venison & Green Pea
Natural Balance Indoor Cat Formula
Wellness; Core, grain free; Chicken, Turkey & Liver

It has since been pointed out to me - though I admit to not understanding it very well at all and needing further explanation - that the lower percentages of fat and protein in canned foods can be the equivalent of what is found in the kibbles - or even higher - and may not be an automatic help to lowering weight. Something about 'dry percentages' or some such.

I have found the effect to be at least somewhat true for Sophie. Her weight has leveled but I don't know how I will lower it if need be. She is okay leveled at 365 grams, though I think she might be better off at closer to 330 - 340 grams. If she starts to pick a few grams her and there again, I will need to make an adjustment.

Quote:
Have you had any problems with it drying up too quickly or anything? I know one of the concerns about feeding it regularly is that it might go bad over the courses of the night
Yes. She will only eat soft foods if they are within a 'range of acceptability'. Ha! I have a very small laboratory squeeze bottle that lets me squirt quite small and controllable amounts of water into the food. Then I stir it up with a chopstick. If it is soupy, she won't touch it. If it is too thick, she won't touch it. I aim for as moist as possible without slumping (still holding shape when transferred to the dish (a very small SS condiment dish)). She eats every little bit of it. I have not noticed any change in water consumption, but of course for her that is part of the problem and it would be hard to drink less. Grrr.

After 'together time' in the late afternoon, I put her baby food allotment in the cage. She comes out for it probably around 9pm.? Late night, (12am - 1am) I get her out and sit with her in the very low light of a lantern for 15 or 20 minutes. She naps in the crook of my arm. When I put her back in the cage I put in her canned food allotment. There is a bit of kibble available for free feed but I have consumption of kibble down to 1 gram per night.
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Last edited by GoodandPlenty; 08-25-2013 at 01:00 PM.
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