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Old 07-13-2012, 07:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Putting a hedgie to sleep, how to know it is time?

Hi all,

I used to be active here at Hedgehog Central but it's been forever since I logged in.

We have a hedgie, Pete, who is about 4 yo (we think that's how old she is based on what her previous owner told us, but we are not sure because she had multiple owners prior to us, so it was impossible to really track down her info.) A few weeks ago we found a big lump on her, the lump is under her body, right by her front arm, and it extends from her armpit to the center of her chest, and part of her neck too (please be kind as I have already beat my self a lot over this, wondering how was it possible that we didn't catch it earlier. I guess my fingers just didn't touch that area very often and Pete wasn't the friendliest hedgie to let us check her over well.) Anyway, as soon as we noticed we took her to our vet, who confirmed through tests it is a tumor and not an abscess, but he also said because of the location of the tumor, it is going to be very hard to remove it all therefore he doesn't recommend surgery to get it removed.

My husband and I decided then that we would keep her comfortable until she started showing signs of sickness. Well, since we found the lump, the tumor has increased in size and is now bigger than a cherry. Her poop is green but still formed. She can't see anymore (I had suspected that before and the vet confirmed she is blind) and barely has any teeth left. Her appetite has decreased a lot, she used to eat between 100-120 kibble a day, now she was eating about 15-20 a day. When I noticed her teeth are almost all missing (that was this week) I switched her to wet cat food, and some days she will eat maybe 1 teaspoon of it, but other nights (like yesterday) she will just give it a few licks and doesn't really eat. Also I'm not sure she has been drinking water every night as I do not see pee spots every morning and the floor on her cage is white (she doesnt like any liner so the floor is bare, she has blankets in her igloo and the temperature in her cage/room is very well controlled in case someone is wondering.) Most of the time she just splatters in the middle of the cage or in the igloo, although sometimes she uses the wheel but I'm not sure if she's just going there to poop (she doesnt poop anywhere else besides the wheel) or if she is actually running. She is still responsive to noise and seems a little more bright when we take her out of the cage during the evenings, but after a few minutes she just looks completely drained off her energy.

I have been trying to give her Hills A/D and water with the syringe but that is a battle...it takes me about 30 min to give her about 2mL of something, and after that she is just so tired and miserable I feel really bad for her, but I'm trying.

I am at a loss as to whether it is time to help her cross or not. Some days seem better than others, she eats, drinks and is more alert and strong, but other days she just seem so sad and miserable I don't know if I'm doing the right thing by keeping her with us. I do not think she is in pain as she doesn't mind the lump being touched, but when there are nights like yesterday when she didn't touch her food and looks so sad, I think that I'm keeping her because of me only. I don't know.

So my question is, for those hedgie parents who have been through something similar, when did you know it was time to help them cross? I could really use some input here as me and hedgie daddy are at a loss.

thanks,
Susana

p.s.: sorry if this is all over the place, it's been tough and my mind is all over the place now.
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Putting a hedgie to sleep, how to know it is time?

It’s always a hard answer, as each one depends on the situation. My stock answer is so long as they are not in pain, then its when the bad times out number the good, and then it is time.

Another method to help you is to step back for a moment. Write down 3 things that makes your hedgehog happy. Each time she won’t do one of them anymore, scratch it off. When you scratch that last one off, its time.

For example, one of mine was Wheeling (he’d freak if his wheel was gone); Eating Mealies (always attacked them with gusto), Snuggling happily on my chest. The first one went fairly quickly as cancer can be is an energy drain. The second went and we knew we didn’t have much longer. Then one night he didn’t want to lay on me anymore. He kept shifting around and wanted to be left alone. I knew that night where we would be the following morning.
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Putting a hedgie to sleep, how to know it is time?

I can't say what is right for you and your hedgie. I can share a story with you though.

I once had a hamster with a tumor bigger than her head on her chest. She seemed to function just fine with it there, but some days she would hug it. I thought maybe it was painful. I gave her a lot of alfalfa sprouts to eat, and that would take the swelling of the tumour down. I also changed most of her food to natural ones. She ended up living 3.5 years, which is quite long for a dwarf hamster (they usually live 1.5-2 years).

My mother often asked me to put my hamster down. I didn't think it was the right decision for me though because I didn't want to be responsible for killing her. Also, her life span was so short anyways, and she seemed well enough most of the time. I decided to just take the best care of her that I could and to let her life out her life naturally. I think that it was the best decision for me and for her.

When it got close to her time to go, she slowed down on activity, eating, etc. Then one morning she was gone.

I don't know if it's close to Pete's time to go too, maybe she still has a long road. If it is her time to go though, you wouldn't really have to help her cross. She'd just go one day.

I don't think you should blame yourself for being selfish. Long after Pete is gone, you would have to live with your decision. So I think you have to make the right decision for you, your family, and for Pete.

I send you good thoughts and love...
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Old 07-13-2012, 08:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Putting a hedgie to sleep, how to know it is time?

I'm really sorry to hear about Pete, it is rough when one of our babies gets sick and deciding whether to euthanize is a most difficult decision.

I have had two hedgehogs prior that both developed tumours at about the age of four as well.

First I noticed Moka had a lump near his bum and some blood in his stool. When I brought him to the vet he was given antibiotic incase it was an infection however, they did not help and it was later determined that it was a tumour. He began to lose a lot of weight and was barely eating anything. I had to force feed him for a while, but then he would eat some wet cat food on his own. He would hardly run on his wheel and mostly just laid in his hut all day. Every day I debated on whether to put him down because his temperment seemed ok. I still had that hope that he would get he would get better. Unfortunately, when I finally made the decision to have him euthanized, he passed away the day before his appointment. I felt really terrible because it confirmed to me that he had been very sick for too long a period of time and I felt guilty for allowing him to live out the rest of his days by just wasting away. I felt I was selfish and I just kept holding onto him because I didn't let him go.

About four months later, Pepper developed a tumour on her lip, we tried a round of antibiotics thinking it was a scrap but it was later confirmed it was atumour. I vowed never to do what I did with Moka, once I noticed her starting to go down hill I would have her euthanized I told myself so she didn't suffer I ended up in the same predicament, every day wondering if I should have her put down or not. Eventually the tumour took over most of her mouth and started to press on her nose. Although she was showing no signs of illness, still eating, poop fine, still wheeling. I felt she must have had to be uncomfortable and chose to euthanize her. The vet assured me that I was making the right decision. As hard as it was I did not want to watch her go downhill or suffer like I did with Moka. I felt almost a sense of relief afterwards, like I had made the right decision to not let her suffer through a slow dragged out death. Although I was still devastated.

It was also difficult to tell if either of them were in pain or not. They didn't appear to be, however hedgehogs hide pain very well.

In regards to Pete, if I were in your position based on my previous experiences I would say that now would be an appropriate time to have her put to sleep (and this is only my opinion). The blindless, in combination with the toothlessness, lack of appetite, lack of wheeling and lack of energy reminds me a lot of what Moka's state was. It sounds like this tumour is draining her of having a good quality of life, and in my opinion I think allowing her to pass with dignity by assisting her is the right thing to do.

Ultimately it is your call, and is one of the hardest decisions you will have to make because there is always a sense of guilt about choosing to take their life. I hope the best for you and Pete. You will be in my thoughts. Best of luck.
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Old 07-13-2012, 08:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Putting a hedgie to sleep, how to know it is time?

I'm so sorry you are in this position. It always sucks, no matter the animal. I too learned a hard lesson with our first dog. She was an Airedale and prone to cancer, and we kept doing all we could, removing lump after lump. Eventually it was too much for her body. After all that, I had to really learn to let go. I didn't let my animals suffer for as long as she did.

Honestly, its better too soon than too late. Though most times, they have their own ways of telling us.
*hugs* no matter what you decide, remember all the good memories, even if she is a grump.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Putting a hedgie to sleep, how to know it is time?

Thank you so, so much for all the replies. I'm so afraid we will end up waiting too long, but it is so hard to decide. I know she is not gonna get better, but part of me is still holding on to some
hope that she might be ok every time she eats a few bites or gets out of her igloo.

I just checked on her and she was just laying there in a corner. I tried picking her up but she made it clear she wanted to be left alone so I didn't force it. She used to love food, she would eat anything and as much as I'd put in her bowl. Every night she would wait outside of the igloo while I replaced her food and water and would start eating as soon as I'd put the bowl down, and she doesn't do that anymore and it all happened so fast.

We are going to think about it a lot during the weekend and make a decision soon but we are inclined to put her to sleep next week. I think I will call the vet Monday to make an appointment with him.

Thank you all again, your replies really mean a lot.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Putting a hedgie to sleep, how to know it is time?

Hearing you describe your experience hits so close to home with me because I was in that exact same spot not too long ago.
Although it is hard letting go, you must think about what is best for her. My thoughts are with you during this really difficult time.
I hope the best for you at the vet.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Putting a hedgie to sleep, how to know it is time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pickles17
Hearing you describe your experience hits so close to home with me because I was in that exact same spot not too long ago.
Although it is hard letting go, you must think about what is best for her. My thoughts are with you during this really difficult time.
I hope the best for you at the vet.
Thank you very much for your words... I'm sorry about Moka and Pepper.
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Putting a hedgie to sleep, how to know it is time?

I do remember you, you were here when I first got my girl Nara.

I am so sorry you are going thru this.

I wish you peace in your decision.

I remember the stories of ol' Pete and will remember her fondly.

Hugs to you.

Donna/MomLady
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Putting a hedgie to sleep, how to know it is time?

It is better to say goodbye BEFORE they are in unmanageable pain than when they're writhing... I learned that the hard way. I thought I would wait until the next day to see if she got (hope against all hopes) any better through the night.. but during that time, she was in so much agony I would have done anything to have her put out right then. I honestly told her it was time to let go, and though I'm not typically very religious, I prayed so hard that she would pass on instead of staying in pain until the next day when the vet could be contacted. I ended up calling his emergency number in tears and he made a home visit so that she wasn't in pain all night.

I know your situation is different, but please don't wait too long, for her sake. It's incredibly hard to say goodbye, I was a wreck for at least a week after that and still am occasionally, I miss her dearly, but I am glad that she didn't have to keep suffering longer than she was. I should have taken her in when she stopped eating and wheeling, as those are her two favorite things and I couldn't even get her to eat mealies or chicken. Once they no longer find joy in the things they love to do... It's time.
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