Sick or just picky? Please help!!
Elodie is 8 months old and I've had her since she was 3.5 months old. She is my first hedgie pet and has been an absolute dream. Sadly she has not been herself the past 2-3 weeks but all the vet tests came back normal so I don't have any idea whats wrong. I'm writing to see if anyone has any suggestions for me to try or ideas about what could be wrong/bothering her. It's going to be a bit of a long read, just cause I know that anyone with suggestions will probably have a billion questions before they can offer advice since caring for hedgies properly is all in the details.
The problem: (in short: she stopped eating her kibble and playing on her wheel slowly over 2 weeks then had a hibernation attempt. Vet tests came back normal. Her behaviour is back to normal now after 5 days of syringe feeding her but she still wont eat kibble.)
Details:Two weeks ago, on a Monday, I began to slowly switch her from having constant access to her kibble, to limiting the amount in her cage at night to 3-4tbls (recommended by vet because she was on the heavier side of an average weight). Because of this switch I noticed that she wasn't eating close to the recommended portion size. I kept substituting eggs and worms 3-4 times a week as I normally did and her behaviour was normal so I wasn't too concerned.
I went to Mexico that Friday and so my partner was her primary hedgie parent (we live together and he knows her habits as well as I do but I'm her obvious favourite :P ) and made sure to update me throughout the week about her eating and behaviour patterns. He started to switch her to new food (also recommended by vet to switch from kitten to cat food as she isn't growing as much anymore) slowly, and by slowly I mean I put 6 pieces of new food in her dish at night mixed in with the old. He noticed she still wasn't eating the dry food as much and made sure to give her egg, worms and wet food a little more often. Later in the week her noticed she wasn't using her wheel as much at night, and wasn't as curious and up for exploring in the evenings. Her cage was normal temp, and nothing had changed except for the new food so he switched it all back to the old stuff but it didn't help.
When I came home from my trip late at night the next Sunday, I noticed she wasn't on her wheel so I checked on her the next morning. Monday morning, I found her curled up in a tight little ball and her belly was noticeably cold to the touch. I also noticed she hadn't eaten, drank any water, peed or pooped. I immediately picked her up and put her against my skin under my shirt to get her warmed up and gave the vet a call.
Within an hour Elodie was nice and warm and was much more responsive to me, but I still wanted to bring her in because of her behaviour changes the previous two weeks as well as I had never experienced a hibernating attempt from a hedgehog and was freaking the f*** out.
The vet did a physical exam, took her temperature, etc. She said she had lost 11g since she had been in 2 weeks ago but other than that seemed healthy. The vet gave me some critical care food to syringe feed Elodie until I could bring her back in for more tests in a day or two (Xray, blood test, looking at teeth etc). Overnight, after feeding her the recommended doses of the critical care food throughout the day, she actually used her wheel and pooped normally again. After consulting with the vet, we agreed to wait one more day for tests in case she improved more. I brought her in for tests on Wednesday and all her results came back fine today, the vet said that since she has gained weight back and is moving and eating the critical care that the next step would be a stool culture and to test for parasites but that she wasn't convinced that would come back with anything helpful either. I have kept up with the critical care food dosages and have been tempting her with wet cat food, eggs, worms and cat treats which she will eat throughout the day but she still won't touch her kibble AT ALL. Her behaviour otherwise is back to relatively normal, she runs on her wheel, poops and pees and hasn't tried to hibernate again.
What I'm wondering is, is it worth it to go do more tests now that her behaviour is stable again? I have already dropped close to $700 the past week for vet visits, all the tests, special food and accessories and don't particularly want to spend anymore if she's just not eating because shes being picky :P.I will OF COURSE spend more money if needed, but so far $700 had brought me no answers and an expensive food option so I'm hesitant to drop more.
Does this sound like something specific to anyone? The vet was saying she's too young for a lot of the common problems hedgies can get.
If it's not an illness, something wrong internally or a parasite (which have all been ruled out except the parasite but vet thinks it's unlikely), then the vet said that the change in behaviour could have been caused by me leaving for a week (it's endearing to hear that the little bean could love me that much but also seems very extreme!), or she could just be getting pickier about her food as she ages.
Does anyone have any tips on getting her to eat her kibble again since bowel and tummy problems have been ruled out? I've tried crushing it up, mixing it with water, hiding it in wet cat food, and trying new kibble but nothing is working!!
While I love her to bits, I don't have a schedule that easily allows me to syringe feed her the critical care stuff every two hours for the rest of my life, plus its really stressful to keep worrying about her. ESPECIALLY when I don't know if she's just being a drama queen or if shes actually sick :(
Below I've added some details about her behaviour and environment to provide people with more info for helpful solutions…
Her normal behaviour is standardly sleepy but she is willing to be held, touched and cuddled throughout the day, in the evenings when the lights are off she's very curious and at night in her cage runs a lot on her wheel. She doesn't really like to play with toys (though we keep some in her cage just in case) and would rather explore or roll around in her little tray (which she never uses for the bathroom and just digs and rolls in it instead - super messy but I don't have the heart to take it away from her since she seems to enjoy it haha). She never curls up in a ball around me (first and only time I saw her do it was the first time at the vets), only huffs and puffs up if I accidentally scare her or she's tired of me trimming her nails, and doesn't bite (except for toes and feet which is a bad habit I have yet to break her of). She's really well socialized and is just such a delight when she's not starving herself and scaring her mum half to death!
Her cage is an extra large living world cage with plastic bottom and wire top. We use thick fleece liners for the bottom and to fill her igloo, but she also has a sleep sack. She has a light on a timer which is on from 7am until 8:30pm and shuts off automatically. She also has a ceramic heat emitter lamp with a self-adjusting thermostat kept around 75 degrees (although recently around 78 due to hibernation attempt) that blares an alarm when it drops below 70 or above 80. She loves her wheel which is a silent spinner 12inches in diameter and uses it everynight when shes healthy).
I threw the bag away of her old kitten food when it ran out and just have a big ziplock bag of it left that I was using to slowly switch her to the new stuff. I can't remember the exact protein and fat percentages, but protein was mid 30% and fat was just below 15%, the main ingredient was chicken.
Her new food: I've tried the pretty pets hedgehog food (because it was recommended by the vet but I've read bad things about it and only tried it as a last resort when she was refusing her old stuff), and Presidents Choice Extra Meaty indoor cat food which has first ingredient chicken, 33% crude protein and 11% fat.
Like mentioned earlier, she loves scrambled or hard boiled eggs (unseasoned of course) and meal worms about 3 times a week. She also enjoys the occasional temptations cat treat (I will sometimes hide some around her cage for a hide and seek game), wet canned cat food and a superworm every once in a blue moon. She wont touch fruits or veg even if it's mixed with something else.
TLDR; My 8-month-old hedgie stopped eating kibble and playing on her wheel, then had a hibernation attempt9 The vet tests all came back normal and I don't know what my next step should be. Her behaviour is back to normal now but she still won't touch hard cat food. Please help!!
Wow, sounds like quite the experience, Emmamarie, and I can relate! My Quilly went through something similar with 1 exception - he had some sort of virus that was detectable on the X RAYs, Ultrasound, and CAT scans. We still don't know - since October - what it actually was, but slowly but surely he came back to normal! He is still on an antibiotic, and will probably be on one for another 2 months or so before we try and back off and then see what happens.
What I can recommend is to feed your little girl as many mealworms as she wants to hold up her weight - I give him about 10 medium ones every day, plus some superworms on top of that. He is still on the critical carnivore care food, but instead of syringe feeding it, I make some in a bowl and he eats it on his own overnight while he is active. Maybe you can put a couple kibbles into a bowl of the special food so she associates it as good?
I am by no means an expert, but hope that my story helps you a bit!
Did the vet check her mouth at all? I wonder if she is having trouble eating the hard food.
|All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:17 AM.|
Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.1
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.