4 Things Hedgehog Owners Need To Know About Contact Dermatitis

Posted on: 5 February 2016


Hedgehogs can develop many skin diseases, including contact dermatitis. Here are four things hedgehog owners need to know about contact dermatitis.

What are the signs of contact dermatitis in hedgehogs?

If your hedgehog has contact dermatitis, you'll notice skin symptoms. When your hedgehog develops new spines, they will experience pruritis in the area. Pruritis is a medical term that means itching. You may notice that their spines are falling out or that their skin is flaky.

The skin around the base of your pet's quills may become crusty and the quills may fall out. Seborrhea may also occur, which manifests as skin flakes or greasy patches on the skin; when people get seborrhea, it's called dandruff.

Why do hedgehogs get contact dermatitis?

Hedgehogs are not particularly sanitary creatures. While some owners have success training their pets to use a litter box, hedgehogs tend to defecate and urinate anywhere they please. Since your pet is essentially living in their toilet, they are susceptible to skin irritation from constant contact with their urine and feces.

To protect your pet's skin, you need to change their bedding regularly. As a general rule, hedgehog cages need to be thoroughly cleaned once every week, though this can vary based on the type of bedding you're using and how messy your hedgehog is.

How do vets treat this condition?

The treatment for contact dermatitis is quite simple. Your vet will prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria that are irritating your pet's skin. Once the bacteria are gone, your pet's skin will heal.

How can you prevent a recurrence?

Since this skin condition is caused by living in an unsanitary environment, you'll need to thoroughly clean your pet's cage. If you don't clean their cage and get rid of the bacteria, they'll get sick again.

To get rid of bacteria, first wash all of the cage surfaces with hot, soapy water, and then rinse it well. Afterwards, disinfect all of the cage surfaces with a solution of household bleach and water. Rinse the cage with water to get rid of any bleach residue.

Don't forget to clean all of the cage accessories as well, like the water bowl, food bowl, and den. Objects that are hard to clean, like fabric beds, should be disposed of.

Once the cage has been thoroughly cleaned, you can put your hedgehog back in their cage without needing to worry about a recurrence of contact dermatitis.

If you think your hedgehog has contact dermatitis, take them to a vet at a place like Southwest Florida Veterinary Specialists & 24-Hour Emergency Hospital right away.