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Old 05-29-2018, 02:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Feeling like we're in over our heads...

Hello everyone! It's been a long time since I've been on here, so for a quick intro - my Husband an I previously owned an amazing little hedgie named Artemis who passed away due to pneumonia just before December 2017, she was only 2 years old. In January 2018, we reached out to the breeders we got Artemis from, we weren't quite ready for a new little one but knew the process of getting a hedgehog involved waitlists and could take a while. As it turned out, they were letting their licenses expire so they could take a break from breeding and focus on their human little one. They let us know that they had received a surrendered hedgie that we were welcome to consider. She was originally bred by them, and her first family returned her after leaving her unhandled for nearly 3 months so she's quite prickly and hand shy. She became our Aloy (A-loy, like Horizon Zero Dawn). She is still quite hand shy but is slowly by surely warming up to us and has the most amazing little personality <3 While we were there to see Aloy, they showed us another female who became our Nova. She was also bred by them, and had just never been adopted. We hadn't planned on getting two, but my Husband fell in love with Nova and I fell in love with Aloy and we just couldn't choose so we brought them both home the first part of February 2018. Their records indicate that they were both born in November 2017. We felt we could manage two, Nova seemed to be in perfect health and Aloy's hand shyness would just take some time.

Then things went downhill fast.

Aloy took to her new environment like a champ no troubles at all, Nova however, stopped eating. We began syringe feeding her daily, and that was her only source of calories and fluids. She lost weight, she came home at 349 grams and quickly wasted away to 305 grams. We spent hundreds on Vet visits and tests, and after much heartache finally received a diagnosis. Nova is completely blind and has Spondylosis (and arthritic change in the spine) that affects the tail end 1/3rd of her spine, and deals with chronic constipation. The Vet believes, due to her age, that these are all birth defects that were progressing slowly but more or less came to a head because of the stress from us bringing her home and changing her environment. We do not blame the breeders in the least, as far as they were aware, she was in perfect health. They have even helped us with the financial burden of some of the tests that finally lead to her diagnosis.

With the diagnosis, we began a regiment of daily miralax and Metacam every three days. She responded well, and began eating and quickly put on weight until she finally held steady around 387 grams (still smaller for her frame than we would like, but she is an avid runner). She refuses kibble though (even though the Vet has assured us that her teeth/jaws are in perfect condition) so she still receives a mash I made that was thin enough to go through a syringe. It is made of Royal Canin Mother Cat Instinctive canned food, Pure Organic Pureed Pumpkin, Crushed Kibble, and water; generally it is the consistency of warm peanut butter.

We fell into a pretty good routine, and everything seemed great. Then we boarded Aloy and Nova with the breeders over one weekend because Nova's medical needs dictate that she be cared for every night.

They let us know ahead of time that there would be two nights during the three night stay that they would have helpers taking care of the hedgehogs because they had a family obligation. We trusted that all would be well, and typed a detailed care sheet for Nova. Because of her dietary preference, Nova's food is refrigerated and changed nightly. We were able to work around the schedule so they would only need to administer miralax. As far as we could tell, Nova was not given fresh food after the first night and never received miralax during their stay. We spoke with the breeders and they did not charge us for the boarding in light of the lack of care. While we appreciated this, it did not change that Nova had dropped 52 grams.

We got Aloy and Nova home, and syringed Nova right away. She seemed to perk back up and ate enough over the course of the next four days to get back up to 362 grams. We thought everything was hunky dory until this past Saturday night she didn't eat as much as usual, Sunday she ate even less and Monday she didn't eat at all.

Now I am terrified that her medical issues are catching up to us, that we prolonged her life but this down turn might be the beginning of the end...

We are doing everything we know to do, we are syringing her again and praying she doesn't regress to the point that we have to syringe her every day as her only source of calories and fluids again...

I feel like we are in over our heads with Nova, but neither of us can bring ourselves to give up and surrender her... She is so sweet, she's our little jelly bean...

Any tips or experience dealing with blind/spondylosis/constipated hedgies or just with hedgies that aren't eating would be beyond welcomed.

At this point, the vet and the breeders have hit the "I don't know, I've never dealt with that before" wall...
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Old 05-30-2018, 10:30 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm sorry to read about your poor Nova. I can't offer much help but just wanted to say how lucky she is to be in your care. It sounds like she wouldn't have had much chance if she was left in the breeders care for much longer tbh. I wouldn't leave your girls in their care again either, if it was me, they don't sound very reliable. That's terrible they or their helpers didn't make sure to give her her medicine!

I actually feed my boy watered down kibble so it is a mash consistency, going on a year now. It is the only way he will eat cat kibble (won't touch it dry). There is no actual proof that dry kibble helps to keep their teeth clean as once thought so I wouldn't worry about it too much if this is how she feels more comfortable to eat it. I had to add cut up insects into it at first, to entice my boy to even eat it mashed. Have you tried adding any of her favourite treats to her main food?

There is also the carnivore care or hills a/d nutrient food to help boost appetite of sick animals but it is just for short term use. If she does go through a bad phase it might be worth getting some to have on hand. Another thing, could her medication be unsettling her stomach making her appetite lower? Perhaps a probiotic mixed in with her food a few times a week might help (I use benebac for my boy, it always sorts him out if he has poop issues or eats less sometimes). Check with your vet that it's ok to give with the medication / give on the non-medication days.

I hope her appetite improves soon ♡
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Last edited by Yukidama's mama; 05-30-2018 at 10:35 AM.
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Old 05-30-2018, 12:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Unfortunately, she is quite picky and will only take live crickets from some tweezers as a treat. She wants them fed to her squirming and doesn't show much interest after they quit moving, also not sure how quickly their carcasses would cause a problem in terms of decomposition/bacteria if I cut them up in her food.

I've actually just ordered both Carnivore Care and Benebac this morning, I've looked everywhere and can't find either in a store near us so Amazon next day delivery it is!

From what the Vet told us, the Metacam is for pain relief for her spondylosis and has a side effect of increasing appetite, so that shouldn't be causing her problems. She only gets it every three days and it is a teeny tiny amount; she's been on this treatment plan for just over two months now. The Miralax works as a stool softener to help with her chronic constipation (she gets 1 ml once a day, though she is allowed a second dose later in the day if needed. It is 1/4 cup of water mixed with 1/8 teaspoon of Miralax) and the only problem that could be causing is dehydration. The Vet has instructed us to syringe her with plain water several times today to see if her appetite picks up tonight.

Either way, she will be getting Carnivore Care and Benebac tomorrow.

Hoping and praying we can get her through this little spell and get back to normal soon.
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Old 06-01-2018, 10:02 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Wanted to let you know - Carnivore Care is stinky miracle powder! Nova's appetite is back in full force, at least where the CC is concerned, LOL!
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Old 06-01-2018, 10:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Ah that's great to hear! I hope she continues to improve!

I've not had a problem using them cut up, as long as you remove any uneaten food the following morning and replace with fresh food it should be ok. I prepare my boys main food in the evening but also now prepare a smaller breakfast snack for him too and he has gained so much weight since I started doing this ~ he'll eat as soon as I offer it and then I leave it in his bed area and I'll hear him snacking throughout the day (he was very small before at 260g so this is why I started doing it but now he is 470g!). I have also heard people even blend up the insects and add to their mixtures if hogs have trouble eating them so you could try that too. If you're worried though perhaps, offer it earlier on and then remove after a couple hours and replace with another batch without insects. The chitin in the insects should help with her constipation too but always best to check with your vet.
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