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Old 03-13-2009, 03:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Sick and cold hedgie - help needed

I have a 2 year old male hedgie, Stonehaven.

He's been very healthy up til recently. I first started noticing behavioral changes when he didn't run on his wheel at night and started pooping less over the last few days. Then he stopped eating completely and I notified my vet. I picked him up and he was very cool to the touch -- much colder than he should have been, but he never tried to hibernate. He would be up and about in the evening a little even though he didn't eat or drink, so I knew he never tried to hibernate. Yet when I picked him up he was cold. My house has been above 70 degrees, but maybe it wasn't warm enough. I use a heating pad at night, but turn it off when I go to work.

So after I noticed how cold and lethargic he was yesterday I called my vet and I went to pick up some Baytril (antibiotic). When I got home from work last night, he wasn't burrowed. He was laying out in the open in is cage. He was super cold. So he got his Baytril and I held him on my lap on a heating pad for several hours and he seemed to improve some. At first he didn't have the energy to even stand up, and by the time I put him in his cage for the night, he walked to his bowl and drank some water on his own. He was burrowed under his log when I woke up this morning and he fought me very hard this morning for his next dose of Baytril. He does not like the syringe at all!

So I think I have him stabilized and he's going to see the vet tomorrow even though we've already started antibiotics just in case.

I'm just curious and confused how and why he got so cold when my house is above 70, he has a heating pad under his cage, and he didn't try to hibernate. I thought cold body temps and hibernation go hand-in-hand.

Of course, we haven't ruled out an infection or cancer yet, but based on his symptoms and slight improvement with the heating pad last night and no visible tumors, it may seem he was just cold. He's still weak and has lost a good deal of weight. I'm glad my vet started him on Baytril even if he doesn't have an infection yet to prevent a URI or pneumonia.

Has anyone had any similar happenings? A cold, lethargic, not eating/drinking hedgie who has lost weight and weak that didn't make a hibernation attempt?

Anything else you think might be going on with him? He did have a little blood in his stool this morning. Could that be from cold/stress?

Thanks for any advice.
Stonehaven the hedgie
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Old 03-13-2009, 03:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sick and cold hedgie - help needed

There is no possible way you can know if your hedgehog did not attempt to hibernate. If he was cold to the touch he did attempt hibernation. When a hedgehog hibernates it's metabolism slows and it becomes cold to the touch, which is exactly what you felt. Also when attempting hibernation a hedgehog will not eat or drink and will not poop or run, all of they symptoms you stated.

Attempted hibernation does not mean he is curled up asleep constantly. Hibernation is a state of slowed metabolism, and a hedgehog can still move while hibernating. Attempted hibernation is the state of the hedgehogs metabolism dropping. IF YOUR HEDGEHOG WAS COLD HE MOST LIKELY ATTEMPTED HIBERNATION.

Also he responded positively to being warmed up. If that does not tell you that is was hibernation i do not know what will.

I am not trying to be hurtful or mean, but you have all the signs of hibernation in front of you, do not blatantly deny it was hibernation.

1) Hedgehogs can hibernate at temperatures as low as 72*F and some have been known to hibernate at 74*F, therefor 70*F is much to low for some hedgehogs. I suggest warming up his room to about 76*F IMMEDIATELY. As a hedgehog gets older it may lose its ability to retain heat as well as when ti was young, so it may need a higher temperature.

2) If a hedgehog is cold, hibernation should be the first thing that pops to mine, not putting him on antibiotic and disregard hibernation. Cancer does not cause a hedgehog to be cold to the touch.

3) Just because you didn't see him hibernating doesn't mean he didn't. WARM HIM UP.

4) If you keep disregarding hibernation his health may get worse.

5) Changes in temperature can trigger hibernation. If the temperature drops during the day or night it will trigger hibernation.

*NOTE* i don't mean to sound mean at all, or to flame you in any way. I just want you to understand that a misdiagnosed hibernation attempt can endanger your hedgehog, and pumping him with medication can cause more harm than good.
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Old 03-13-2009, 03:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sick and cold hedgie - help needed

Thanks for responding. I honestly didn't know that hibernation could happen even if he wasn't curled up sleeping or unresponsive. So I'm glad you mentioned that. And hopefully your response will help others too.

I've owned hedgehogs for 6 or so years and only had one other hibernation attempt. She was in a ball and unresponsive and it took about an hour to wake her up. She was fine after that and never tried again.

Thankfully the heating pad did work last night and I took that into account when was thinking about what could be going on with him. And my house is being left quite warm again today to keep him warm, along with the heat disk.

And honestly, being how much he fought me on the syringe, I don't know how much of the dose of the antibiotic he got. He never opened his mouth when I put the end up to it and pushed the trigger. So that may end up being a good thing if he didn't get the full dose.

Now, what about the blood in the poop from this morning? And how do I get him to start eating again? He is a pain about the syringe. I tried to give him food and water last night with the syringe and it was quite a challenge. Now that he's warm, will he start eating on his own soon?
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Old 03-13-2009, 04:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sick and cold hedgie - help needed

I'm glad it helped.

I didn't read the part about the blood in the stool. That is something i have not researched intensively yet, but i remember reading an article on it.

How much blood was in the stool, did it look like a streak or was it runny around it.
One possibility is a compacted bowl that slightly tore his rectal lining from not being able to poop for a while. Make sure he is fully alert and warm, and then try giving him a warm bath to help him poop.

There are many other possibilities because of blood in the stool. That is something a more experienced owner or your vet would have to talk to you about.

If he is warm again he should start eating on his own, but if he hasn't eaten in the past few days you are going to have to try and sit through the feeding to make sure he gets something in his system. Try using hills A/D cat food mixed with some baby food if you can manage it, and warm it up before syringing it to him. Some hedgehogs will only eat warm foods.

This is from another thread:
When you actually syringe, the food, i used an electrolyte drink or sugar water to start up his appetite (1ml) and then began syringing him food. I gave him 5ml a session to start, 4 times a day (20 ml total) and then set 10 pieces of ground up kibble in front of him and he usually ate about 1/4 of the bowl. After he started to "blow bubbles" with the food in his mouth i knew he was full. I then fed him more drink until he stopped taking it (dripped on him instead of swallowing). Oh, and be sure that she will most likely anoint over an electrolyte drink and the food, vex does it every time.

Also, when syringe feeding DO NOT hold her on her back as she can possibly choke. I only found out about this after vex started to gag and then puked because i was holding him on his back. The proper way i found to do it was to scruff him and leave his bum on the counter and heed it to him.

For vex i almost had to force feed him for the first day. I would insert the syringe sideways in the corner of his mouth up against his teeth and then press to fill up his mouth. He would then swallow whatever was in his mouth. I did this 3-4 times and then he started biting on this syringe and i could keep a constant flow. When he started to blow bubbles with the food i stopped. Also when she bites at the syringe, try to keep in the corner of her mouth as feeding her directly from the front she can choke.
Good luck, and let us know how he is doing.
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Old 03-13-2009, 04:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sick and cold hedgie - help needed

The blood is minimal, but it's within diarrhea. I hope now that he's warmed up, he'll start drinking more. I did put him in the sink this morning for a minute or so to get some poop off his tail and make sure his hedgie hiney was clean so I could make sure he wasn't bleeding from another source. He didn't poop in the sink this morning. I will see how he is when I get home from work and maybe try again.
I also ran to the store on my lunch hour and got some baby food and pedialyte to mix up with some water and see how that goes. He may like that more than what I was trying yesterday. I didn't have any babyfood in the house and just watered down some canned Wellness cat food.

In a way I'm kind of glad he has the energy to get into a very tight ball and hide from the syringe. On the other hand, he's making it very difficult for me to help him like I need to.
Thanks again for the advice and posting the article from the other thread.
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Old 03-13-2009, 08:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sick and cold hedgie - help needed

An update on Stonehaven now that I'm home from work...

I found him curled up on his side sleeping on his heat disc, uncovered. I picked him up and he got very huffy and popped a few times.
I offered him a variety of foods to see if he would take any on his own -- some vanilla yogurt, cottage cheese, baby food, and turkey. He took a lick out of the cottage cheese but then left it. He's back in his cage while I'm cooking dinner and writing this, on top of a 2nd heating pad I put in his cage wrapped in a towel. The temperature next to his cage is 73 degrees according to the theomometer I have on the wall so I just put a space heater near his cage. I'll give him some time to see if he warms more to want to eat or drink on his own before I put him on a heating pad on my lap for the evening. He's definitely better than he was 24 hours ago, that's for sure. But not much improvement over this morning. He's going to the vet at 10am tomorrow.
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Old 03-13-2009, 09:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sick and cold hedgie - help needed

Let us know how the vet visit goes!

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Old 03-13-2009, 11:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sick and cold hedgie - help needed

They can be cool enough to be wobbly and not eat but not quite cool enough to be totally out of it and unresponsive.

The question is, is he sick which is causing him not to eat and to be attempting to hibernate, or is he too cool which is causing the other symptoms.

I guess the fact that he has lost weight makes me wonder if there is more going on than him just being cool. I hope you get some answers at the vet.
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:07 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sick and cold hedgie - help needed

you may want to consider investing in a ceramic heat emitter. its just a ceramic disk that emits heat and not light that you screw into a lamp fixture. I hang one over Cloud's igloo and it keeps him very warm and toasty. Sometimes he will push his igloo out of the way and sleep uncovered under the heat emitter. or if it's too warm for him at the time he will push the igloo to the other side of the cage (upsetting his water in the process, hahaha) and sleep there instead. a lot easier than a heating pad and a space heater
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Old 03-14-2009, 12:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sick and cold hedgie - help needed

We are back from the vet and my little SOB bit me while I was holding him! I guess he's feeling better.
He has lost 200 grams since his last visit several months ago when I needed help getting his nails clipped.

My vet said that his coolness could have been a response to an infection but there really isn't a way to prove it. We didn't draw blood. He also said the blood in his poop could also be stress or infection related. He said that he could be sick whereas he slows down enough to recognize illness/infection but not slow enough to hibernate. So he said to keep Stoney on the Baytril for the week and see how it goes. He also said it could take 3-5 days for him to feel better and start eating. He did eat a little bit of a piece of turkey this morning. A good start I suppose.

And he wants me to give him some sugar water every day because he said when they get sick, they feed off their blood sugar and their blood sugar drops often. That explains why after I syringe fed him last night, he went limp for a minute.

In the meantime, he's being kept very warm with a house that feels like a sauna, a heating pad under 1/2 his cage, a heat disc, and a space heater.

Not too many answers from the vet given he's feeling better from when I first contacted him 2 days ago telling him what's going on, yet the blood sugar drop explains a lot and my vet said just keep doing what I'm doing keeping him warm and continue the Baytril.
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