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Old 11-22-2017, 10:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Hedgehog after surgery

Hello everyone. I still feel like a relatively new hedgehog mom even though Truffle has been with us for a year. During the last month we spent quite a bit of time at different vets and finally a CT showed a large mass in her abdomen that was removed yesterday.

The surgery went well, and today I was allowed to bring her home. I was given some pain meds and basic instructions to watch for anything unusual. She is back in her cage with her sleeping box, sleeping bag, a bunch of extra fleece blankets, and food and water. Everything else (the wheel, litter pan, and toys) I took out to prevent her from overexerting herself. There is also a pet bed heating pad under her cage, and that seems to be the spot she prefers right now. She seems to get up every now and then, drink some water, eat a bit of her usual kibble, walk a circle or two and settle back into her sleeping bag. She is a bit wobbly when walking around, but in the few days before the surgery she could barely move, so that is actually progress, comparatively speaking.

So as a paranoid owner I am wondering if that is normal behavior. What else should I be on lookout for? How long does the incision normally take to heal? What should I be watching for when I examine the incision site?

Any thoughts and suggestions will be welcome. I just want to do the right things in keeping her comfortable while she is healing.
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Old 11-23-2017, 12:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sounds pretty normal to me! Warning signs would include not eating, drinking, not pooping or having difficulty pooping, blood in poop or urine, signs of pain when moving or being held. A couple other signs really depend on what her aftercare is like - if she's on any antibiotics or other medications, they could affect what her poop looks like (make it very dark, make it green, make it soft, etc.). Pain medications can often make them very sleepy, so I would check with your vet for advice on that. I know Pancake's made her sleepy & she would pass out pretty hard after getting it.

Incision-wise, look for redness, puffiness, warmth, & pus for warning signs. Make sure it stays clean & dry - you may need to clean her cage more often for now, even every night if she's getting it very messy. It'll likely take closer to 2 weeks to heal, depending on the size, what they used for it, so on. I would check with your vet if you want a better idea of what to expect & when she can have a wheel again.

Good luck & I hope she heals up quickly!
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Old 11-23-2017, 01:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Lilysmommy, thank you so much for your response!

She has been nibbling on her normal kibble since I brought her home. They gave her some other cat food and a bunch of dried mealworms during her stay at the hospital so she may be wanting something tastier than that (i did give her couple of live mealworms after her last dose of anticoccidial drug this morning because she was such a good girl). She seems pretty weak and wobbly, but she did almost lunge for the mealworms. So I guess I will just be watching her progress.

Her cage is all fleece and the only mess she made was some kibble crumbs around the food dish. I will be swapping out her sleeping bag nightly in case she is actually peeing in there (she always used the pan under the wheel or a separate litter pan for that, so it is hard to tell where she was peeing last night; may have been in a corner on the fleece, but it is dry now).

I asked the doctors about the signs of pain, and their answer was pretty much to watch for anything unusual like not eating or drinking or decreased activity. So I would appreciate any pointers for what other signs I could be looking. She is on an NSAID for pain and inflammation management. It did not seem to make her any more groggy when I first gave it to her last night.
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Old 11-23-2017, 02:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Honestly, hedgehogs are hard for signs of pain as they're a prey animal & will do their best to hide it in most cases. Increased huffiness, grumpy behavior, trying to bite, trying to get away, etc. can be signs too, but sometimes hard to tell from usual hedgehog behavior! I'm not sure if I was lucky or not - Pancake was a vocal hedgehog & she told me she was in pain by actively whimpering at me. Was glad she could tell me, but it ended with me crying too because I was so upset by her sad little whimpers.

Definitely keep an eye on the eating, and it shouldn't hurt if you wanna boost the temp up a degree or two to keep her warmer while she's recovering.
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Old 11-24-2017, 08:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I will be calling the vet with the same question in a little bit, but what is the point where I should be worried about her not eating enough?

The day after surgery she seemed to nibble on the kibble which was mixed with dried mealworms. When we got home, I swapped it out for her regular kibble (20 pieces) and kept just a few dried mealworms in that dish. She seemed to have eaten about 8 kibbles (some were crushed, so hard to tell exactly). And I could hear her drink water pretty regularly throughout the night.

Last night, she did not manifest any interest in her kibble in the evening, so I broke down and mixed some of her liquid diet I've had since before the surgery, because she quit eating and drinking on her own during that time. So I offered her some out of a dish, and she had about 2-3 ml. Then, during the night, she had only about half a kibble of her usual dry food.

This morning she happily ate the 2 live mealworms I offered her, but refused to touch the liquid diet I mixed for her again after seeing she has not eaten much.

So the question is, do I just offer her anything she will eat just to keep her eating? Like crushing up her kibble and mixing it with a bunch of mealworms if that's what it takes? Or offering wet cat food and baby food? It would be hard to tell how much exactly she is taking in at that point, I think. What's the breaking point of going back to syringe feeding just to keep nutrients in her?
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Old 11-24-2017, 01:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would start syringe-feeding her today, to be honest. You could syringe her a few times today, then set out a bit of a banquet for her tonight & see what she'll try - you could do normal kibble, crushed kibble, some mealworms, wet food, baby food, syringing food, so on. I would set out at least a few different options. You can weigh them to keep better track of how much she ends up eating - food scales are good for that & are pretty cheap at Walmart if you don't have one.

Glad you're checking with the vet as well - you can see what they think about the not eating & relation to surgery. With Pancake, she was not eating long before the surgery (and that was really the cause for the surgery, as she had Fatty Liver Disease from not eating enough & losing weight too fast), so I was already syringe-feeding her regularly before & after the surgery.
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Old 11-24-2017, 01:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you so much for responding in here. It is a scary time for a first-time hedgehog owner to watch the little one after a surgery.

I did offer her some wet cat food around 9 am today, and she ate about half a teaspoon happily. So I guess it is not the lack of appetite, but not wanting her usual kibble. I'll keep giving her some wet food throughout the day, and if she is not eating that well enough, I will go back to syringe feeding her.

In the good news, the vet says her incision looks good from the photos, so that's a relief.
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Old 11-25-2017, 02:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Truffle completely refused to let me syringe feed her last night, and I was too scared to force her since I'm afraid how all that fighting may affect the incision. So I gave up on that and offered her a buffet of her usual kibble with some Mazuri hedgehog diet mixed in (yeah, I know it's not great, but she seems to like it now. I will worry about adjusting her dies to a healthier variety once she is out of the woods after surgery), wet cat food with crushed mealworms, and even a dish with her liquid diet from the vet. I heard her nibble of stuff and crunch the kibble throughout the night, so I guess her appetite is still there. She just did not want her usual food the night before! Not after several days of dried mealworms galore at the veterinary hospital.

Now I am worried about her water intake. I did not see/hear her drink last night, and her poop was looking pretty dry (except for the one she saved for this morning right when I went to check her incision, that looked more normal).

What can I offer to up her water intake short of syringing water? She has regular (bottled) water and plain pedialyte mixed with water. I do weigh the water in the evening and in the morning, but the amount gone seems close to evaporation levels. I can't see if she is peeing since she loves burrowing through fleece blankets, and I left a bunch in her cage to give her some entertainment while everything else is gone.
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Old 11-25-2017, 08:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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You could offer water-heavy treats & see if she tries any. Watermelon, cucumber, celery, & iceberg lettuce are all high in water. The last is typically not recommended as a treat, but for hydration purposes, it'd be okay to offer if you want to try it.

You can also check her for dehydration by pinching her skin & seeing how fast it returns to normal. If it sticks any longer than a second before going back down, she's dehydrated & I would definitely syringe at least some water.

Glad she's eating something! Agreed, better to have her eating something, at least, even the Mazuri.
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Old 12-01-2017, 04:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Just wanted to post an update. Truffle seems to be recovering pretty well from her surgery, eating and running around when I take her out (she runs around the cage but not much, she's probably pretty bored without her wheel). She was having a bit of a head tilt and would shake her head, so she is on some antibiotics for URI/ear infection.

On the downside, I got the call from the doctor telling me that her ovarian tumor was cancerous. They did not see any evidence of it having spread when they were cutting it out, but it, of course, does not mean there was no microscopic spread. Seems like survival times for hedgehogs with this type of cancer vary from 30 days to 780 days (the data puts together hedgehogs who had surgery and those who did not). There may be a chemo option, but they cannot be sure how a hedgehog may react to that drug, so I do not know if that is a path I want to explore.

Has anyone heard of hedgehogs actually getting chemo?
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