New hedgehogs owners often ponder whether their hedgehogs need vaccinations like cats or dogs. Plus, some exotic animals need regular check-ups at the vet to ensure there’s no unexpected medical trouble. In this post, you’ll learn all about the vaccination needs and general veterinary care for pet hedgehogs. After reading this article, we are sure you’ll be more confident in tackling any medical challenges concerning your spiny family member.
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Do hedgehogs need shots?
No, hedgehogs don’t need vaccinations as cats and dogs do. They aren’t known to carry diseases like rabies that need to be vaccinated against. Still, you might want to make sure that they get regular check-ups to discover serious medical problems early enough. Pet hedgehogs may experience a wide variety of medical issues. In addition to the vet visits, you should keep an eye out for any sudden signs of illness. When you are in doubt, always exercise caution and contact a certified veterinary.
Do hedgehogs need to visit the vet?
Yes, keep in mind that self-diagnosing is always a bad idea. The same goes for diagnosing your pet hedgehog’s diseases. If you want your prickly buddy to live a long and beautiful life, it’s a wise decision to team up with a professional vet. They should be accustomed to diagnosing and treating exotic pets, not just cats and dogs. Making regular visits to the vet ensures that you already have a nice relationship with them before something serious could arise.
When should you schedule the first check-up?
The best time to have the first check-up is after two to four weeks after bringing your hedgie home. In this case, your new pet is a bit more adjusted to the home environment and owner. They will be easier to handle. Also, it’s useful for the vet to see your hedgehog growing from a small hoglet into a fully-matured animal. Any developmental problems are more clear and pronounced to the vet’s eyes with prior experience. Especially with different parts of the developmental timeline.
How to pick a perfect vet for your hedgehog?
This is a tough, yet crucial question. It’s tough because it’s very unlikely to find a vet specialized in hedgehog care. Still, it’s important to find a vet that has at least some experience with hedgehogs. Otherwise, your hedgie could end up as a learning experience for the veterinary. Don’t get us wrong, that’s not always a bad thing. But there has to be a strong learning interest coming from the vet. If they are enthusiastic and curious, then there’s no problem when they only have prior experience with regular household animals.
The challenge of picking a vet isn’t only centering on the vet’s prior experiences. You should check out the overall policies of the clinic as well. For example, compare the prices of individual services and different pricing plans that could be cheaper in the long run. Also, clinics differ in respect of providing emergency services. You are better off opting for clinics that have at least somebody on duty all night long.
Finding a veterinarian specialized in exotic animals isn’t easy. You are best off using Google or some other search engine to find such professionals in your area. Another strategy is asking for recommendations from other vets. Maybe some vets don’t publicly boast their deeper knowledge about hedgies or their extensive experiences with the prickly animals. Their colleagues might know about the specialized focus on hedgehogs. Talking to different vets and asking for referrals ensures that you have really used all the possible options.
How often should you visit the vet?
Most guidelines recommend taking your hedgehog to the vet on an annual basis. Sometimes it’s hard to spot growing medical trouble that could turn into a full-blown emergency. At first, small animals rarely show clear signs of illness. This is a protective mechanism because injured or ill animals make for the easiest prey. Hence, it’s an evolutionary instinct to cover up any traces of trouble brewing under the skin. Fortunately, modern medicine provides a host of tests that can uncover hidden medical issues.
How does a hedgehog check-up look like?
The schedule and activities depend on the particular vet and clinic involved in the process. Still, there are some essential steps involved in the check-up that most clinics follow. First of all, the vet should do a visual inspection of your beloved hedgie. There are many symptoms. Some of them are subtle! All of them could be uncovered by just carefully examining the hedgehog.
The next part of the check-up involves actually touching your hedgie to indicate further problems. Palpating all parts of the body ensures that the vet will discover any injured areas, lumps, or localized swellings. All of the findings could call for further tests. Not all hedgehogs will be happy with this part of the check-up. That’s why some vets will opt for using mild sedatives before handling the hedgehog.
Not all vets run tests on hedgehogs when they don’t have any suspicions of underlying diseases. But some order standard fecal tests on all hedgehogs, regardless of their health status. The thinking behind this is the following: some hedgies carry parasites even though they virtually no symptoms. Running the fecal tests ensures that any hidden and harmful bacteria and parasites are found. They could create serious trouble.
What else could the vet do?
When your hedgie’s vet finds anything suspicious, it’s likely they will do additional tests. For example, your vet could get advanced blood or stool tests done on your hedgie in order to get more knowledge about the situation. Also, your hedgie could need an X-Ray because it helps to really see what’s going on inside the organism, such as discovering any malignant masses that form inside the body.
A professional veterinarian will take a look inside your hedgie’s mouth. Good oral care is the pillar stone of the overall health. Your vet could check for any decay and tartar formation. Sometimes your hedgie could be missing some of her teeth. In this case, it’s important to consider the situation’s health implications and whether any medical intervention is needed. Missing teeth accompanied by gum inflammation call for further treatment.
What are the most typical problems affecting hedgehogs?
Similarly to humans and other animals, a plethora of diseases and conditions could affect the well-being of hedgehogs. Mites, dental diseases, internal parasites, obesity and vitamin deficiency are some of the most common conditions that have quite straightforward cures in the lion’s share of the cases. Malignant tumors, fatty liver disease and heart problems may prove to be more dangerous and the outcomes depend heavily on the particular circumstances. In any case, you should have an open discussion with the vet about the prognosis and the possible interventions regarding the serious diseases.
Finding a vet specialized in hedgehog medical care allows you to ask about the effective prevention of many diseases. These experts have seen many hedgehogs brought up in different conditions while reading all the relevant medical journals as well. A lot of diseases could have quite a random origin, but the old adage still rings true: prevention is better than cure. That’s why you should ask about habitational, nutritional and behavior development strategies that could contribute to the well-being of your hedgehog.
What is a Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome?
This is the most common condition unique to hedgehogs. The syndrome affects both African and European hedgies. You should be able to spot the symptoms quite easily. When your hedgie tries to stand still, you’ll note that they can’t hold the posture and start wobbling around. The disease starts from the hind legs, progressing to the front. In advanced forms, the hedgehogs can’t hold any control over their limbs.
Unfortunately, as of now, there’s no cure available. Only supportive care is recommended. Since the Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome ultimately leads to death, euthanasia might be the best solution in many cases. This is a very tough decision. Try to have a frank and open discussion with your vet about the timing. Usually, natural death occurs 16-24 months after the appearance of initial symptoms.
What should I know about surgeries?
Many diseases require surgical intervention, and in many cases, they are a justified mean to save your hedgie’s life. Alongside the benefits, surgeries always come with a set of risks. Typically, hedgehogs won’t have a problem with anesthesia. But there are cases when they react badly to the given sedatives, resulting in a life-threatening crisis and death. Bleeding is a major risk during and after the operation. As small animals, hedgies don’t have much blood that they could afford to lose. The particular bleeding risk may depend on the surgery’s location as some bodily areas have more blood vessels than others.
Additionally, infections pose a risk that is important to keep in mind when having the surgery carried out on your hedgehog. Any incisions raise the risk of bacteria or other contaminants entering the wound. Localized infections are more manageable compared to the systemic ones. The latter affects the whole body. When they get out of control, the emerged situation could easily lead to death.
What to do after my hedgehog had surgery?
The most important thing is to regularly keep an eye on the incision and its surrounding area. Seeing any signs of bleeding or an infection call for a quick visit to the vet. Do keep in mind that minor bleeding might be natural after certain surgeries. It’s important to consult with your vet after the procedure to find out which symptoms fall into the expected range after the operation. Also, all the staple or sutures should be intact. When they get loose, the vet has to pull them tighter or completely reapply the staples again.
There are some signs that your hedgie might not be well after the surgery. For example, failing to eat or drink and not passing any urine or stools are sure signs that everything isn’t okay. You should contact your vet upon seeing these symptoms and ask for advice on the next steps to take. Still, some lethargy and abnormal behavior are completely normal on the first day after the surgery. Don’t forget that every surgery is a traumatic experience and your hedgie needs some time to recover from this situation. And keep your hedgehog away from doing any strenuous exercise on the wheel until the vet gives a green light. Also, don’t wash your hedgehog or allow them to get into direct contact with water before the period specified by their vet.
Is it needed to neuter or spay my hedgehog?
Doctors usually recommend neutering or spaying when you keep many hedgehogs in close quarters. That said, as of today, there’s more research carried out into spaying that neutering. There are numerous benefits for spaying your hedgehog. These include the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and removal of the organs before any malignant tumors or other medical conditions could develop in the area. The dangers involve the typical risks of having any surgery done on your hedgehog, such as bleeding or a bad reaction to anesthesia.
Should I mention the hedgehog playing outdoors?
Absolutely! You should always let the vet know about your hedgie spending time outdoors. In this way, they’ll know that there’s a higher risk of contracting any parasites. The same goes for giving your hedgehog insects or worms caught from the wild, which is actually discouraged practice because of the contamination potential.
The same logic applies to you hedgie being in contact with any other animals or their living spaces. Mites are a common problem among pet hedgehogs. The annoying parasites may originate from the food, drink, bedding, or other animals and their enclosures. Also, the mites could already live on your hedgehog without any additional symptoms. It’s the point when their immune system gets weaker that the mites really start to show the full capacity of doing harm. The weakening of the immune system could be based on random occurrences or resulting from a particular stressor.
The bottom line: do hedgies need shots and veterinary care?
No, and yes. They don’t need shots, but they do need annual check-ups and veterinary care in case of spotting any suspicious symptoms. You are better off finding a vet specialized in exotic animals. It’s not always easy. Try online search engines and ask for referrals from established veterinarians. Spaying or neutering isn’t mandatory, but it’s recommended when you keep many hedgehogs from different sexes in close quarters. The most typical problems affecting hedgehogs include dental issues, mites, obesity, and some forms of cancer. Always keep your eye out for any sudden changes in the appearance and behavior of your hedgie.