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Old 06-12-2013, 03:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default No longer eating, lethargic, weak and underweight.

Hi, me and my girlfriend have a hedge hog with multiple issues.


No longer eating its kibble or treats. Was feeding him science diet puppy kibble for near a year now. He stopped eating it maybe over a week ago. Once we noticed he wasn't eating his daily food we fed him meal worms while we waited for the arrival of his hedgehog specific food. Now he refuses to eat anything.

He is very lethargic and weak, barely any strength in his hind legs. He tries to walk and starts wobbling trying Rostand and balance from falling over. He falls over here and there... lays there on his side

Feces gets backed up around his exit area to the point where it becomes to clump, and dry getting stuck to that area. We clean him off and when he freshly defecate tarlike residue remains near exit.

During these symptoms he would run on his wheel appearing active till today/yesterday which is also when he begin to not eat anything and begin to get weak.


We have an appointment for him on friday but at his current state I'm afraid he may not make it.
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Old 06-12-2013, 06:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: No longer eating, lethargic, weak and underweight.

He's gone too long without eating enough - hedgehogs, as you've found, go downhill very quickly once they stop eating. They start having liver issues, they start feeling yucky, so that keeps them from starting to eat again on their own, once they pass a point of no return. He's going to need to be syringe-fed ASAP to get some nutrients into him.

For syringe-feeding, there's a couple things you can do. My favorite thing is to use baby food, since it generally syringes easily, you can find it easily, and most hedgehogs tend to like the meat-flavored ones. Get chicken or turkey, and sweet potato baby foods (get the 1st stage ones, they shouldn't have any extra ingredients added). While you're out, stop by the pharmacy section of the store (or a pharmacy) and see if you can find needle-less syringes (or syringes with removable needles). 1 ml or 3 ml would work best - they can be found in the diabetics section, or you can ask at the pharmacy desk and see if they have any in the back you can buy (sometimes they'll give them to you for free). Mix the baby foods together and make sure it can go through the syringe - you may need to add a bit of water, since the meat baby foods can be thick. I would make sure it's lukewarm, at least, but make sure if you microwave, there's no hot spots. You can also crush up kibble very finely and mix it in with the baby food, but that's up to you - it'll make it more difficult to go through the syringe, but the kibble is an actual balanced diet versus just two ingredients of baby food.

For actually syringe-feeding him, you'll have to experiment with positions. He may be able to put a surprising amount of fight, even with his weakness, but hopefully he'll like the baby food. Try to keep the syringe pointed diagonally in his mouth, so you don't choke him or cause him to aspirate. Trying to syringe some water as well, between syringes of food - hydration is very important too.

Try to get as much as you can into him. Until you can get him to the vet, aim for getting 24 mL in 24 hours - so if he takes 4 mL for you in the first feeding, wait 4 hours and feed him again. See how he's doing before you go to bed - if you think he's stronger, you could try putting some food in the cage with him (I would do some of his old, some of the new, some baby food, and some mealworms, and see if he tries anything) and see how he does for the night. If he doesn't seem much better, personally, I'd get up at least once during the night to check on him and syringe-feed him again.

The poop doesn't sound good...I would see if you can get him to the vet as an emergency case tomorrow, if at all possible. Explain to them what's going on and stress that it doesn't sound good for him. They may let you squeeze him in between appointments, or call if they have a cancellation and they can work him in.

One more thing - make sure he's staying warm. What temperature does his cage stay at normally? It should be somewhere between 73-78* F. I would bump the temperature up and keep it a couple more degrees warmer than usual, to make sure he's staying warm enough and limit stress on his body.

Good luck, and keep us updated! Ask if you have any more questions about syringe-feeding, etc.
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Old 06-12-2013, 06:13 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: No longer eating, lethargic, weak and underweight.

Side note...this isn't nearly as important as getting food into him and keeping him warm right now, but just wanted to ask what hedgehog food you guys got? Most of them aren't that great in terms of ingredients, and several are downright dangerous for them. If you're looking for a food to switch him to, I would recommend a high-quality cat food - popular brands on the forum include Blue Buffalo, Innova, Natural Balance, Solid Gold, and Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul. There's numerous others, the main things to look for are no corn, a meat or meat meal as the first ingredient, and protein level 28-35%, with fat 10-15% (for most hedgehogs - depends on how much he runs and his body shape). Definitely worry about him for now though, and food type second. Just wanted to let you know!
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Old 06-19-2013, 01:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: No longer eating, lethargic, weak and underweight.

I hate to say this, but this does not sound good.
If it were me I would take him to the emergency vet so they could try to save his life- I'm SURE he needs fluids and is really dehydrated and it sounds like he may not make it through the night.
I agree with syringe feeding- but if he is as week as he sounds it doesn't sound like he will take much at once. I would feed him every 2-3 hours all night long small amounts at a time unless he will let you syringe feed him more. When animals get really ill and weak you usually cannot syringe feed much at a time because they will stop swallowing and end up aspirating the food/leading to suffocation and death. Make sure you only put small amounts in his mouth at a time and he is swallowing.
Do you have a syringe?
For food do you have any canned food or any baby food (like beechnut chicken and chn gravy, any meat with gravy)?
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:06 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: No longer eating, lethargic, weak and underweight.

Just realized this was from a LONG time ago- I really hope he ended up being okay
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