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Old 01-18-2010, 09:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Just discovered I've been feeding Zoey "Junk Food"...

Ever since I got Zoey about a year ago, I've been feeding her Pretty Pets' Hedgehog food exclusively, as I figured this met her dietary needs: freeze-dried meal-worms in kibble form, high protein, low fat, with some vitamins listed on it as well. It seemed perfectly healthy to me.

I just read the "acceptable commercial hedgehog food" thread though, and to my dismay, it lists it as "Junk Food" due to the high amounts of filler in it, like corn. This is really disheartening. I feel like a bad hedgie-parent now

Have I accidentally cut down my hedgie's lifespan now by feeding her this unhealthy food?

I found that Royal Canin cat food was acceptable, according to the list provided on the same thread. I don't think I have the exact same type listed though. The bag I have is Calorie Control CC 38, which we use for weight-reduction of our hefty cat, Ruca.

The nutritional content of the cat food:
Crude Protein: 38.5%
Crude Fat: 7.0%
Crude Fiber: 5.9%
Moisture: 8%

Is this acceptable? And is there something I should be supplementing this with? Meal-worms are kind of out of the question, I don't necessarily want to get into why, but lets just says
it's extremely inconvenient. Preferably, I need a supplement that's easy, not a hassle. Anything like that?

Also, I felt it was worth mentioning that she practically sucked a piece of the Royal Canin kibble that I offered her out of my hand
I noticed she would hold it in her mouth in an odd way though, for several moments on end. She just kind of sits there with it in her cheek, mouth wide-open...at first I thought she was choking, but then she began chewing it.

Is it too big for her to chew easily? Or is she just savoring the tastiness?
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Just discovered I've been feeding Zoey "Junk Food"...

That cat food seems to be a bit high in protein. You might want to think about mixing it with one that's a little bit lower in protein. The fat and fiber contents look good though. The common belief is 30% protein, up to 15% fat (less for overweight hedgies, a bit more for runners).

I don't understand why mealworms are an inconvenience, unless you just can't find any where you live. You don't have to buy live, there are also freeze dried and canned versions. All of these can be bought on-line. You could try other treats too. Most hedgehogs seem to like sweet potatoes, carrots, green bell peppers, apples, peaches, etc... Just make sure that you read the stickies in the food and nutrition thread. There's a post that tells you all of the toxic and hazardous foods to avoid.

I don't know for certain as I'm not an expert but I'm sure that your hedgehog will be fine even though she was on the pretty pets for a year. It's good though that you've switched her off to a better food.
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:48 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Just discovered I've been feeding Zoey "Junk Food"...

I'm glad to hear you are switching her off of Pretty Pets! You are right, it is a horrible food that some hedgies have died of malnutrition from. A year may not be as bad, but still, that long could have had a negative effect on her overall health as well as permenant internal issues from lack of nutrition and having to work so hard to get anything valuable out of the food.

The food you listed is okay, but Bengall is right it is a bit high in protein. You can mix in another food or two with lower protein, to balance things out. If she is having issues with the large pieces (from what I remember Royal Canin has large kibbles) you can clean off a pair of scissors and cut each one in half, or crush the pieces. Some hedgies will not eat any but the whole kibble though, so watch and see how she takes it. I would recommend Castor & Pollux Natural Ultramix Indoor if you want small pieces. It also has dried fruits and veggies, which she might like.



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Old 01-19-2010, 03:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Just discovered I've been feeding Zoey "Junk Food"...

Thank you for the helpful tips, guys. I really hate that I've been ignorant of Pretty Pets' problems for this long, but I guess there isn't much I can do...

She seems to be doing ok, although I notice her sleeping cycles are kind of odd lately. She's been sleeping heavily, but she does get up to run late at night. For how long, I'm not sure. Her stool also seems to be ok, I guess, if not a little low in quantity and dark in color. Is that a bad thing?

She's definitely not over-weight. But she is a bit stockier than other hedgehogs I've seen on this site.

I found another bag of Royal Canin in our pantry for our other cat. It's called "Indoor Intense Hairball 34," and it's listed on the recommended list. Here's the nutritional content of it:

Crude Protein: 34%
Crude Fat: 14%
Crude Fiber: 8.4%
Moisture: 8.0%

Is this more appropriate? The fact that it's used to treat hairballs kind of worries me, because you'd think it would have some odd chemical in it to break up the hairballs, or something. Maybe I'm over-thinking things a little, but I just want to get the best I can for Zoey.

The reason why mealworms are out of the question is because I'm about to leave the country in order to study abroad in France for a semester or two. So, I'm trying to make taking care of Zoey as easy for my parents as possible. They already have 5 other animals and my 16 year old sister to deal with I doubt they'd want to have to deal with mealworms on top of all that.

I'll definitely try giving Zoey some veggies and fruit though, as we usually have some basic stuff in the fridge. Thanks again for all the help
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Old 01-20-2010, 08:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Just discovered I've been feeding Zoey "Junk Food"...

I took your advice Lizardgirl, and got some Castor & Pollux for Zoey. She seems to like it quite a bit too.

I didn't realize I was supposed to make the switch slow, though. She had some runny stool last night, so I've changed her bowl to be about 2 parts Pretty Pets, one part Ultramix and Organix (Ultramix has a high protein count too, so I thought I'd try to balance it out with Organix.)

I hope that works a bit better. Does the switch have to be extremely gradual? I'm hoping I can get her adjusted to C&P before I leave for France, but I don't want to tear up her stomach either.

I hate to be such a worry-wort, but I can't help but be extremely anxious about her health now...
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Old 01-20-2010, 08:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Just discovered I've been feeding Zoey "Junk Food"...

Just wondering on what size is the Castor and Pollux kibble. Now on top of type of food Paco will eat, shape/size is now playing a role in is meal planning..

Thanx Everyone
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Old 01-20-2010, 10:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Just discovered I've been feeding Zoey "Junk Food"...

You may find that she will never ever touch the PP at all now that she's gotten the taste of a better food. While yes, one is supposed to make a gradual switch, you may find that she will be dead set against eating PP ever again, and end up forcing you to make an immediate switch.
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Old 01-21-2010, 02:10 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Just discovered I've been feeding Zoey "Junk Food"...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Immortalia
You may find that she will never ever touch the PP at all now that she's gotten the taste of a better food. While yes, one is supposed to make a gradual switch, you may find that she will be dead set against eating PP ever again, and end up forcing you to make an immediate switch.
I've actually noticed that already...she eats everything but the PP.

So will I just have to let her suffer through any digestive problems she might have? That sucks

@SunRayz:

The size of Castor & Pollux kibble is fairly small. The Ultramix is round in shape, and has bits of dried veggies in it. Organix has triangular-shaped kibble. Both have meat ingredients with no grain added.
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Old 01-21-2010, 02:17 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Just discovered I've been feeding Zoey "Junk Food"...

If she won't eat the PP then stop giving it to her. It's better to make a slow transition (4-6 days) but as long as she's staying hydrated then she shouldn't have any major issues other than a bit of tummy upset and loose stool. If you're really worried you can try giving her some sugar water or pedialyte to help encourage her to drink extra water to recoup what she's losing with the watery stool. She should be fine, though.
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