Experts on dangers of encountering hedgehogs on a dog walk – and what to do

While hedgehogs are adorable little creatures who are generally friendly, they can certainly pose a danger to your dog if you encounter them while on a walk.

When a dog sees these prickly mammals, they may get excited and get accidentally hurt by them, which is why when dog owners encounter a hedgehog, they need to immediately calm their dog down, put them on a lead and move them safely away.

Sometimes it's their pure instinct that causes dogs to jump at hedgehogs. For breeds like the terrier that were once used for hunting prey, this temptation to grab a hedgehog is irresistible.

But spikes on these hedgehogs can cause serious bleeding to dogs' gums if they try to grab it in their mouths. Furthermore, hedgehogs can also carry fleas and ticks that can be passed onto canines, TeamDogs reports.

If a dog's mouth is cut, they could also be at risk of contracting ringworm from the hedgehog, as the open wound is an entry point for the disease.

Grace Johnson, hedgehog officer at Hedgehog Street said: “With their keen sense of smell, dogs often detect hedgehogs before we humans spot them.

“Sadly some dogs can harm or even kill hedgehogs, when instinct tells them to hunt prey.”

Her advice is to steer dogs away from thick undergrowth and long grass on walks, especially at dawn or dusk when hedgehogs are most active.

Grace continued: “Accidents do sadly still happen though, and injuries aren’t always visible, so if you think your dog may have harmed a hedgehog, it’s best to contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for advice on 01584 890 801.”

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If you know that your dog is prone to wanting to chase small animals, it might be worth ensuring that they are wearing a muzzle when you walk them.

Of course, training them from an early age to avoid this habit is also recommended, as it can make a lot of difference as they get older.

As much as you may want to give the hedgehog some attention, try to move yourself and your dog away from the situation, to ensure everyone's safety.

It’s not just on dog walks either, you also need to be wary in your own private garden.

Hedgehog Street advises to keep your dogs away and to try and warn the hedgehogs by turning on an outside light a minute or so before letting your dog out.

It may even be worth supervising your dog when you let them outside, to ensure the safety of the hedgehog and your dog.

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