We get questions from a lot of people worried about whether their dog might attack hedgehogs in the garden. Others worry about hedgehogs hurting the dog – or passing on parasites or diseases. So will hedgehogs and dogs be safe together in the garden? Although there are exceptions, as a general rule the two should be able to safely share the same space.
Will My Dog Attack Hedgehogs in My Garden?
That depends on the dog and the hedgehog.
Some dogs though may attack a hedgehog.
Unless the dog is an extremely strong animal it is unlikely to be able to kill a healthy adult hedgehog.
But dogs can kill hoglets or sick hedgehogs. And even for a healthy adult hog, a dog attack can cause injury and will cause stress.
A dog bite can be hard to spot on a hedgehog. Long canine teeth can sink into the flesh beneath the spines. Though the wound may quickly heal over if it is infected it will go on to cause problems for the hedgehog weeks after the event. So if your pup has had a go at a hedgehog, even if the hog looks fine, its best to always get it checked over by your local rescue centre or the vet.
An encounter between an aggressive pet and a hedgehog is likely to leave the dog with some wounds too.
Luckily, even if your pooch does have aggressive tendencies towards hedgehogs, keeping the two apart is fairly straightforward,
Keeping Hedgehogs and Dogs Safe in your Garden
Although the risks of your dog killing or seriously injuring an adult hedgehog in your garden are relatively small there are precautions you can take to reduce risks even further for both dogs and hogs.
Know Your Dog
As I said, my dog is just confused by hedgehogs and won’t touch them. But this isn’t the case with all dogs. It’s not always the biggest dogs that cause the most trouble. Terriers are one of the most frequently offending breeds in hedgehog attacks.
Knowing your dog is the first step to ensuring harmony in the garden. Keep a close eye on your dog if you think you have hedgehogs about. See how the dog behaves and this will give you an indication of whether you need to take further precautions.
Know Your Hedgehogs
Hedgehogs are nocturnal and domestic dogs generally not, which is a big help in peacekeeping in your garden.
Most hedgehogs are creatures of habit and will visit your garden for food at a certain time each night.
Once you know when to expect your hogs you can then make sure your dog stays indoors until they have moved on.
When you do need to let the dog out consider giving the hedgehogs some warning, by putting an outside light on or shining a torch.
During the summer months when adult hedgehogs and hoglets are likely to be about, it is wise to supervise your dog’s evening outings. Depending on the dog it may be enough to just watch what’s going on, or keep the dog on a lead when you let him out at night.
Get a Feeding Station
A hedgehog in the middle of a good meal may not be as alert to danger as she is at other times.
So putting your hedgehog’s food in a feeding station will offer some protection from an aggressive (or just inquisitive) dog or any other passing animals who may want to interfere. It will also keep your hedgehog food safe from the neighbourhood cats.
We have some super feeding stations for sale here.
Or if you’d rather make your own, this guide shows you how.
A curious dog might disturb a hedgehog nest and could certainly cause harm to baby hedgehogs if it decided to.
A hedgehog house will offer protection from dogs and predators for a nesting mother, a hibernating hedgehog or a hog that’s just taking a daytime nap.
Again, we make some nice hedgehog houses, take a look here.
And here’s a guide on what to look for when you are buying a hedgehog house. Not all hedgehog houses are created equal a poorly made one doesn’t offer much protection at all.
Of course, you can’t force your hedgehogs to nest in your hedgehog house. Whilst many hibernation and nursery nests will be well hidden away, summer night nests are oven made in long grass or leaf litter. So from May to September, it’s best to keep a close eye on your dog when it’s in these areas of your garden.
Will My Dog Get Injured From Attacking a Hedgehog?
Yes probably. This is another good reason why if your dogs are at all aggressive towards hedgehogs, any encounter is best avoided.
Hedgehog spines don’t detach easily like porcupine quills. But still, a mouth full of spines can cause some nasty cuts which could become infected if left untreated.Knowing your dog is the first step to ensuring harmony in the garden. Keep a close eye on your dog if you think you have hedgehogs about. See how the dog behaves Click To Tweet
If your pooch has had a go at a hog check over his mouth and muzzle for broken skin. If there are cuts or scratches bath the area with saline solution. And if the damage is bad contact your vet.
What About the Cat?
Cats will generally not bother hedgehogs, They may be curious at first but are generally way too smart to tangle with anything so spikey.
This is good news as cats and hedgehogs are often both out at night.
Will Dogs Eat My Hedgehog Food?
Yup! So will cats, and foxes, and badgers. All these animals are meat eaters, so it’s no surprise that the same food appeals to them all.
And some people choose to give hedgehogs cat or dog food instead of specialist hedgehog brands.
The best way to keep the hedgehog food for your hogs is to use a feeding station.
Will Catch Diseases From Hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs are famous for carrying fleas and ticks and many dog owners worry that just the presence of hedgehogs in the garden may put their pooch at risk of catching diseases or parasites.
So let’s clear this one up.
Dogs can’t catch fleas from hedgehogs because hedgehogs fleas are species-specific and can only live on hogs.
Dogs and hedgehogs can carry the same ticks, but it’s highly unlikely that one would catch ticks from the other. Ticks don’t work like that.
We have an article on hedgehogs, dogs fleas and ticks here:
Hedgehogs do get ringworm and if your dog is cut by hedgehog spines he might pick this up. It’s an easily treatable complaint.
So all in all the there is very little risk of hedgehogs in your garden passing parasites or disease to your pets.
What To Do If Your Dog Attacks a Hedgehog
If after all your precautions your dog does attack a hedgehog here’s what you should do.
- Grab a towel or a pair of gloves.
- Separate the two as quickly and gently as possible.
- Even if the hedgehog shows no signs of injuries, get it checked over. Place the hog in a cardboard or plastic box lined with an old towel and call your local hedgehog rescue or wildlife vet.
- Check over your dog’s mouth, muzzle and paws for signs of injury. If there are any cuts bathe the affected areas in saline solution (salt dissolved in boiled water). If cuts are severe the dog will need to go to the vet too.
Thanks for Reading
So with a little care and attention, there is no reason why hedgehogs and dogs can’t live together in the same space. And having dogs is no reason to discourage hedgehogs from using your garden.
The key is understanding your dog, and keeping the two apart if your pup tends to be aggressive to small animals. This is made much easier by hedgehogs nocturnal habits.
We hope you’ve found this article useful. If you have questions or suggestions we would love to hear them. Leave us a comment below.