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Old 03-20-2019, 07:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Hedgie lost a lot of weight, eating less but no other symptoms

Hi guys,

My girl has lost a significant amount of weight since late February and has been eating less. Besides looking skinnier (she has a bit of a dip at her waist) the two vets I've taken her to say she's otherwise healthy and her behavior hasn't changed.

- I've only had her for about a month and a half and she was 334g when I got her. She's 6 months old. I've been feeding her the kibble mix I got from the breeder and she was eating about 30-40 pieces a day then started eating only 20-25 pieces around 5 weeks ago.

- She's slowly decreased down to 289g as of last night. I took her to the vet when I noticed she was almost hitting 310g but as I mentioned above they couldn't find anything wrong with her with just a physical test. I've been weighing her every day and last week she went back up to 308g then started dropping down again

- I've tried multiple different foods to open up her appetite: baby turkey and chicken food, live mealworms, boiled chicken, eggs, canned crickets, Hills A/D, wet cat food, and mixing in Solid Gold Winged Tiger plus a high-fat kibble recommended by the breeder. She loves the mealworms and the chicken if I feed it to her with a tweezer but that's about it. I'm leaving only the high-fat kibble overnight now instead of her old mix. She's still eating but it's like it's not enough to maintain her weight.

I can tell she's still nervous/scared around me so I don't know if this is just a phase because of her being stressed about being in a new home. I reluctantly took out her wheel for now because she runs a lot and I'm afraid of her losing any more weight...

Has anyone else had a similar thing happen? I'm getting very worried at this point and I'd appreciate any insights. Thank you!
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Old 03-21-2019, 11:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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First, put the wheel back. While her activity levels may be causing her to lose weight right now, her wheel is also her method of relieving stress. Sometimes when a hedgehog is rehomed they are highly stressed and they excessively wheel to relieve that stress. Removing their wheel may cause them to go to other methods to relieve the stress. Cage climbing, which can result in fall injuries is one example, but they can simply start to have bad behavior changes, like biting or chewing on their own feet or other reactions to panic from stress. Leave the wheel so she has it to run off the stress.

If she is otherwise healthy, continue to monitor her behavior and weight. Watch for any negative changes that may indicate an underlying health condition that has been undetected so far. Most likely you won't find one and it will simply take time for her to calm down.

I've had several rescues over the years come to me and they run. Given time they usually would settle down and the amount they ran would start to lower. For many, the time it took was usually about when they would come out of quarantine. I quarantine for a minimum of 6 weeks, usually 8 weeks if the hedgehog's care was questionable. I've had some that took 3+ months for them to finally settle down.


While they are settling in, we set a schedule/routine for them. I interact with them on a set routine. They get their food at a set time, their cage cleaned, etc at the same time daily. I do this because over the years I have found that these types of hedgehogs do best with a routine. They learn when to expect things and they seem to settle down sooner. Interrupt that routine too much and they go back to being unsettled.


I'd also continue to provide a high fat kibble in her diet. You may need her diet to be mostly higher fat kibbles until she settles down to provide the calories she needs to maintain a healthy weight. You may also find that she settles some, but continues to run excessively. Some are just runners.
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Old 03-21-2019, 03:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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My hedgie lost weight because of a hibernation attempt, but then didn't put any back on after. Took him to the vet and found out he has congestive heart disease. They diagnosed based on an xray. He's been on medicine just over a month and has put his weight back on.
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Old 03-21-2019, 07:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Did they do a fecal test for internal parisites ? While not common in hedgies , possible ,easy to check for and treat.
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Old 03-23-2019, 02:02 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you for your replies!

Kalandra, I put her wheel back and she seems quite happy about it!

belties, the vet did a fecal test and it came back negative for any parasites or bacteria.

Miso is now up to 296g after being 282g on Monday; a far cry from her original weight but at least she's gained again. The vet did say I always had the option of doing an x-ray and bloodwork but I don't want to stress her out even more right now if she is gaining slowly, especially since it will involve anesthesia. Maybe I can wait another week before deciding?
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Old 03-23-2019, 11:56 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Personally, as long as she is slowly gaining or maintaining, I'd just continue to monitor. If this is indeed just a stress based issue, a trip to the vet is just going to further disrupt her routine and stress her. Continue to monitor her weight, and continue to let her settle down.
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Old 03-25-2019, 01:16 PM   #7 (permalink)
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So far she hasn't gone below 282g like she was last Monday, but she's not 300g by now as I'd hoped.

At 7am this morning she was running around like crazy, going back and forth between running on her wheel for a few seconds then running around her cage and scratching at the coroplast as if she was trying to get out. I have a camera in her cage and from what I can see she's spending most of her time wheeling at night and I think she just ignores her food - she's been eating 15 pieces of kibble overnight at the most. If this is because of stress I wish I knew how to make her feel more comfortable I have a consistent schedule where I take her out at the same time each night to weigh her, have her in my lap and feed her treats, and put her back in her home after about an hour - an hour and a half. Some nights I set up a collapsible dog playpen and let her run around in there. I also check in on her in the morning at the same time.

Last edited by laurag; 03-25-2019 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 03-25-2019, 09:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Maybe when you have her out try giving her some boiled shredded chicken or little pieces of hard boiled egg to boost her food intake some.
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Old 03-26-2019, 09:51 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Something else to think about, is the 7am occurrence fairly routine?

Or is this a fairly new thing for her? Basically is it a change to what she was doing....

Is there something in her environment that could be causing her to feel agitated? A noise, high pitched hum, television or some other appliance that is in use at that time, rodent deterrent/noise maker etc. Is there some lighting change? These are items that people have found before that caused a hedgehog to be agitated. Not necessarily the issue here, but something I thought I would bring up just in case.

Can you put her food dish in bed with her to see if she will eat while in bed? I’ve had some who I had to do this to get to gain weight. I usually drape a piece of fleece over their bed and over an oatmeal container to form a small hidey area and put the food in there so that if they are hungry they can eat, but still have that sense of security that the extra shy need during the day.

I have a girl right now who is not dealing well with the day light saving change. She doesn’t understand why her light schedule has been disrupted and has had a few tantrums the last couple of weeks from it. These tantrums are basically what you describe, with the addition of biting (a habit she came to me with that we are working on breaking). For her, I have a light that will slowly brighten over time, we’ve been using that to try to get her to adjust to the new light schedule. She freaks out over the simplest change in her schedule and DST was a serious disruption for her.


As mentioned above, using a food she loves when you take her out is a great way to have her associate you with something she enjoys. I don't think we've talked about it yet, but what is her normal routine. How do you interact with her, etc. How does she react to those interactions, etc. Perhaps we can find minor (or major) changes that may help her settle down.
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Old 03-26-2019, 01:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalandra View Post
Something else to think about, is the 7am occurrence fairly routine?
Yes, I usually always wake up at 7am to count her food and check in on her. I refill her food and I stick it under where she's sleeping under the fleece (she likes to burrow under the fleece in a corner of the cage now instead of using her hide). On the weekends I admit that I usually do this around 9am or 10am instead. At night I put her dish close to the door of her cage in between her hide and her wheel so that she can easily see it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalandra View Post
Is there something in her environment that could be causing her to feel agitated?
She didn't start eating less until living maybe 3 weeks in my place so I don't know how much all the street noise is affecting her. I live on a busy street in a city and we have a lot of traffic and a train across the street. She's in the living room which probably gets the most street noise in the apartment but it also allows me to close the door so she doesn't hear my roommate and I stomping around. She's close to a small fish tank but it doesn't really produce any humming and she's in the opposite wall from the TV.

As for her light situation, I have little string lights along the back of her cage and she gets a lot of natural light from the 3 windows in the living room. They turn on with an automatic timer at 7am and turn off at 7:30pm, but it doesn't have a slow dimming option.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalandra View Post
As mentioned above, using a food she loves when you take her out is a great way to have her associate you with something she enjoys. I don't think we've talked about it yet, but what is her normal routine. How do you interact with her, etc. How does she react to those interactions, etc. Perhaps we can find minor (or major) changes that may help her settle down.
Her routine at night is that at 9pm I take her out, weigh her, and then go into my room (which has a dim light) with her in a snuggle sack. I used to just let her be on my lap while I was in bed but a week ago I've started feeding her mealworms, boiled chicken and scrambled eggs while she's in her snuggle sack. She just sticks her head out a bit and grabs the food from my tweezers then goes back into the safety of her sack; mealworms are consistently the one food that she will *always* take. When I have her in my hands she tries to escape so I've stuck to being more hands-off lately. We've graduated to her taking mealworms while being out of her sack yesterday.

A few times a week I put her in a playpen in my room that has a fleece blanket, a tunnel and toys in it. Sometimes she runs around, but other times she seems very nervous and stays in one place or in a hide the whole time.

She was 279g yesterday night which is worrying me, so I made a vet appointment and I think I'm going to bite the bullet and have them to blood work and an x-ray to really rule out an illness.

Thank you for being so responsive!
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