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Old 06-23-2011, 10:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Hermie: possible URI

Hi everyone. I adopted my hedgehog Hermie from Nancy about 5 years ago (hi Nancy!). He is exactly 5 years and 4 months old today, which I believe is fairly old for a hedgehog. He generally just spends his time sleeping, eating, and drinking.
Two weeks ago he just stopped eating. I thought it was because he was old and getting ready to die. So I watched him and waited. By Monday night, nothing had changed, and he hadn't died. At that point I realized he was just going to end up starving to death (rather than dying of old age) if I didn't do something. So I started syringe feeding/"watering" him. Every now and then he would eat a couple of kibbles. Then after a couple of days he started eating quite a bit more kibble. I've continued syringe feeding him ever since, because he's still not eating enough on his own.
However, a day or two ago, he stopped being interested in food again. Today when I woke up and checked on him, I noticed he was making these weird clicking noises with his mouth/tongue and breathing oddly. Then I noticed he was blowing frothy little bubbles out of his nose. Sometimes he even seems like he's breathing through his mouth. He's also wheezing.
I'm thinking this is a URI, and I am going to take him to the vet tomorrow (if I can get an appointment). I'm afraid it may be too late for him though.
What I'm wondering right now is if there's some way to alleviate some of his breathing troubles until I can get him to the vet tomorrow. Would steam help him to breathe easier? He's having a really hard time right now, and he's so old that it's just painful to watch and not be able to do anything.
Any ideas or advice?

Rebecca
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Old 06-23-2011, 11:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hermie: possible URI

Hi Rebecca
Wow, I read the title of this thread and thought, I know a Hermie. Imagine my surprise when it's the same Hermie. He is an old boy. You simply have to post some pictures.

Yes, it sounds like a URI. Hopefully you can get him to the vet tomorrow. Tell them it's an emergency and maybe they will squeeze you in.

Steam might help him. Maybe some extra warmth too. Try leaving some kibble in bed with him. Often if they don't feel like getting up to eat, they will if it is right there beside them.

Good luck and keep me posted. Give him a hug for me.
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Old 06-23-2011, 11:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hermie: possible URI

Hi Nancy,

Thanks for responding! It's good to "hear" a familiar voice. Yes, the poor little guy is so old, and I'm afraid this might just do him in. But he's had a good, long life. I'll try to post some pictures tomorrow. He's completely bald now (I don't know if you remember, but he started losing his quills soon after I got him, and over the years he pretty much lost all of them), so he's a little funny looking, but I think he's just so cute. And I get to give him kisses, which I'm thinking not many hedgehog owners get to do.
I'll try the steam (making sure not to burn him with it). When he's resting he doesn't seem to have as much trouble breathing. But as soon as I start syringe feeding him, he starts blowing bubbles and having difficulty getting enough air.
I'll give him a big hug for you and keep you updated.

Rebecca
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Old 06-23-2011, 11:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hermie: possible URI

i could only suggest a hedgie-safe antibiotic if you had some at home.
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Old 06-25-2011, 09:24 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hermie: possible URI

Yes, I remember his unexplained quill loss. I bet he'es adorable. I just lost an elderly rescue who had unexplained quill loss to and he was almost bald too.

Is he sneezing? If not, I wonder if he possibly is in heart failure.

Did you manage to get him to the vet?

Hugs to you both.
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hermie: possible URI

Hi Nancy/fellow hedgie owners,

Sorry I didn't update you sooner. The vet was able to squeeze Hermie in at 9:45 a.m. on Friday. Hermie was so ill by that point. It was painful to see him like that. He had spent the majority of the night breathing through his mouth, and was almost lifeless at times. The vet did a full physical. I knew Hermie was unnaturally thin (due to his lack of eating over the past couple of weeks), but when the vet weighed him it was still quite shocking. In 2007, Hermie had weighed 500+ grams, and he now weighed 300 or so grams. The vet also felt a mass in his abdomen, and said that it may have migrated into his lungs. There was a definite rattling in the lungs when Hermie breathed (I could feel it when holding him). The vet also said he was hypothermic, even though he was wrapped in about 5 blankets/hedgie bags, and I had had the heat on in my car on the way there.
It became clear to me that Hermie was much sicker than I had known, and the vet and I both agreed that the poor little guy was probably getting towards the end. He said the three options were: 1. to run diagnostic tests 2. to give him antibiotics and see if that helps 3. to leave things as they were.
I knew there was no point in doing diagnostic tests, as Hermie was a very old man and might not even survive the biopsies and other procedures. And I didn't want to take him home with the antibiotics in the hopes that he'd get better, because I was afraid that they wouldn't work and he would die a horrible death over the weekend. To me, dying from a lack of air (suffocation, drowning) would be a horrible horrible death. I was not going to let that happen to Hermie, so I decided to have him put to sleep. I knew he was suffering, and I didn't want it to go on any longer, and I didn't think there was much hope of him getting better.
So later that day I had a little funeral for him at my parents' house. They have a little forest area behind their house, and our other pets are buried there.
It's sad not having him around. He was a great little guy.

I'll post some pictures soon so you can see him Nancy. I'm on someone else's computer right now so I don't have access to them.

Rebecca
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hermie: possible URI

I'm sorry Rebecca. If he was hypothermic he was very possibly on his way then. I have found that usually as they are in the process of leaving us, they get cool and its a cool that even being on a heating pad doesn't help.

He led a wonderful long life and I'm sure you will miss him.

Hugs
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Old 06-26-2011, 07:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hermie: possible URI

I'm so sorry about your loss. I'm sure he led a wonderful happy life. Hugs.
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Old 07-01-2011, 12:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hermie: possible URI

Thank you both

I tried to post pictures, but they are too big to be posted here, so I'm including a link to my blog. I've posted a bunch of pics of Hermie over the past year or two.

http://purpleurchinsoap.blogspot.com/20 ... ermie.html

Rebecca
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Old 07-01-2011, 12:16 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hermie: possible URI

Oh my gosh, he is so adorable. Even bald he was a handsome boy. Of course course how could he not be with the gorgeous parents he had.
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