Sometimes it will sneak up on you. When you spend time with your Hedgehog every day, it’s hard to notice the small changes in weight over time. One day you’ll look at your pet and notice they seem different, skinnier than they used to be. Is your Hedgehog underweight, and should you be worried?
Some of the major causes of weight loss in Hedgehogs are malnourishment, improper diet, oral or dental complications, and stress. If your pet is losing weight continuously, it can be fatal for their life. If you have any suspicions about your Hedgehog’s health, take them to a vet.
You will be able to treat the condition causing your Hedgehog to lose weight. It may require hand-feeding your pet and administering medication, or it may require a lifestyle change for your Hedgehog.
If you are concerned that your Hedgehog is underweight, visit your pet’s veterinarian for a diagnosis and help create a healthy weight gain plan.
How Do You Know If Your Hedgehog Is Underweight?
In most cases, Hedgehogs are slim, but if they have lost a lot of sudden weight or are underweight, then we can say that your pet is underweight.
You must weigh your Hedgehog every few days (once in a week or so). This will help you keep a note of their weight, and you will know if they are losing weight suddenly.
If you do not build a habit of weighing your pet, it will be tough for you to realize if your Hedgehog starts losing weight. Therefore, it is important to keep track of their weight.
It is advised to measure your Hedgehg’s weight every week so that you come to know if they are underweight.
Some Hedgehog owners do not weigh their Hedgehogs, so it is a little harder for them to know if their Hedgehog is underweight. So, it is always a good idea to track your pet’s weight.
If you have not weighed your Hedgehog before, then look out for these signs to find out if your pet is underweight:
- Ribs, spine, and pelvis can be easily seen or touched.
- The skin feels rough and pulled up.
- They squeak a lot.
- You will notice less dropping in the cage.
- The abdominal curve might be carved in.
- Sleeping a lot and not being willing to move might also indicate that your Hedgehog is underweight.
If such symptoms are noticed to you, consider seeking medical advice immediately.
Causes Of Weight Loss In Hedgehogs
There are a lot of reasons that can cause weight loss in Hedgehogs.
It can be a major concern for any Hedgehog owner if their little one is losing weight consistently. Therefore, it is important to address this issue immediately.
Most owners struggle to find the cause of weight loss in their little ones. So, I consulted a vet and shared some basic factors that trigger rapid weight loss in Hedgehogs.
Here are a few to start with:
It is extremely common for Hedgehogs to suffer from dental complications. These dental problems can make it painful for Hedgehogs to eat.
When this happens, your pet Hedgehog will (understandably) eat less, leading to a significant weight loss.
As Hedgehogs cross a particular age and start to grow old, they might lose weight.
Most of the process is inevitable due to the loss of muscle mass Hedgehogs experience in old age.
As a result, elderly Hedgehogs will be less active, further atrophy the muscles and cause weight loss.
To counteract this, it will probably be necessary to adjust your Hedgehog’s diet to include more calories and protein when they are older.
Talk to your vet about healthy ways to increase food intake for senior Hedgehogs and ways you can encourage more exercise and activity.
If your Hedgehog has an improper diet, then there are high chances that they will grow underweight. You must feed your pet with a perfect balance of fruits, vegetables, pellets, and treats.
There is also the possibility that your Hedgehog is simply not being fed enough. Making sure your pet has constant access to dry pellets every day is necessary for helping Hedgehogs maintain their weight and energy levels.
Hedgehogs can get stressed out pretty easily.
The problem is that when Hedgehogs are chronically stressed, they’ll become anxious which affects their appetite. Anxious Hedgehogs will be too stressed to eat, which will result in an unhealthy loss of weight.
If this is the case, the best thing to help your pet feel safe in their home environment.
Make sure they are separated from other house pets (like dogs and cats), and they are placed in a quiet area of the home rather than a room surrounded by activity and noise.
Over time, you can work to help your Hedgehog become more confident so that they don’t feel as anxious in their day-to-day life.
If your Hedgehog does not drink enough water, they will also reduce the amount they eat.
In most cases, this will be because there is not enough water available, not because the Hedgehog is choosing to drink less.
The best thing to do is ensure your Hedgehog has enough water trough to last the entire day and night. Usually, you would want to get a large dog-sized bowl rather than a smaller one marketed toward Hedgehogs.
If your pet is a bowl flipper, you can give your Hedgehog a bowl and a water bottle.
This would ensure that your pet always has water available even if they decide to throw a tantrum at some point during the day.
While it is less common, Hedgehogs can also contract parasites that can result in weight loss.
Some parasites live within the intestines of many Hedgehogs but are not a problem for healthy ones. It can, however, infect the liver and cause illness and weight loss in young or otherwise unhealthy rabbits.
External parasites, such as fleas and mites, can cause weight loss more roundabout. By causing a Hedgehog discomfort, they can decrease your pet’s appetite. The rabbit will eat less and lose weight as a result.
A common cause of unexplained weight loss is some kind of hidden underlying health issues.
When Hedgehogs feel pain or get sick, it will often affect their digestion. They will lose their appetite and eat less food than they normally would. If the illness goes undiagnosed for some time, this will inevitably result in an unhealthy weight loss.
A Hedgehog veterinarian will have to help you determine what could be causing your pet to feel sick since there are several possibilities. These include:
- Kidney conditions
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Cardiovascular conditions
- Metabolic conditions
Lack Of Exercise
Although it might seem like a lack of exercise would cause your Hedgehog to gain weight (and sometimes it does), it can easily cause a loss of weight over time.
Hedgehogs who are chronically sedentary will lose a lot of muscle mass. Unless they are overeating, the atrophied muscles will lead to weight loss.
This may be due to conditions such as arthritis, which makes it painful for Hedgehogs to move around, or depression. But it can also result from a living area that’s too small for the Hedgehog.
Your Hedgehog’s Living Area Is Too Warm
The ideal temperature for Hedgehogs ranges from 75°F-85°F (24°C- 30°C).
If you live where the weather conditions are extreme, you might need to look into some cooling source or some other alternative method to keep them cool in their enclosure.
Hotter temperatures can make them feel stressed out. Between the stress and exercising less due to the heat, Hedgehogs will typically have a smaller appetite. If they are chronically kept in hot conditions, they might start to lose weight.
It’s recommended that you never place your Hedgehog directly in the sun without access to any places where they can get shade.
Do Hedgehogs Lose Weight Before They Die?
Some Hedgehogs start to lose weight before their death while others don’t. However, you will notice that your pet starts to lose some weight once they become older.
You must change the diet of your Hedgehogs according to their weight change. You can throw in some extra pellets if your pet is underweight.
Despite this, if your Hedgehog appears to lose weight, you must consult a vet. This can also be a sign of severe digestive or dental disorder.
When To Visit Your Veterinarian
If you see that your pet Hedgehog has lost a visible amount of weight, then it is recommended to check in with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
This is especially true if the weight loss has persisted over several weeks or if you’ve noticed any secondary signs of serious weight loss, including a lack of energy, dropping food, or smaller poops.
Sometimes, Hedgehogs end up losing weight due to multiple health problems.
To accurately understand the weight loss and treat your Hedgehog accordingly, it’s very important to take the step and seek out the advice of a veterinarian.
What Kind Of Treatment To Expect
The treatment for your underweight Hedgehog will vary depending on the cause of the weight loss.
While some Hedgehogs will only need a corrected diet or different living conditions, but others will require more medical intervention. Sometimes, depending on the root cause, surgery may even be required.
In most cases, if your Hedgehog is underweight, you should expect to:
- Syringe Feed Critical Care. Critical care is a powdered food formula that you mix with water to make a mush that you can hand feed a Hedgehog. Your vet will guide you through the entire process.
- Medication For Pain Management. Depending on the cause of the weight loss, you might also have to administer pain medication to help your Hedgehog’s appetite return to normal.
- Reduce Stress As Much As Possible. Help your pet Hedgehog stay comfortable in a quiet place without too many distractions.
- Follow Your Veterinarian’s Advice. Your Hedgehog’s vet will be able to give you specific care instructions for any underlying illness or change in diet.
The Importance Of Annual Wellness Examination
It might be extremely difficult to detect any weight gain or weight loss in Hedgehogs unless it is drastic.
In most cases, the weight loss or the weight gain will be so slow that you won’t notice it in your day-to-day life.
Therefore, it is important to have a regular veterinarian record your Hedgehog’s overall health.
The vet’s record will help to immediately detect if there has been any kind of unusual weight loss.
Once it is detected, the vet will be able to run some tests and evaluations to figure out the cause of your pet’s weight loss and help you create a plan to encourage healthy weight gain.