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Old 05-11-2010, 01:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Still not healthy!

Emmy has been sick... since February... and I can't figure out what's wrong.
I think she attempted hibernation in Feb. She seemed to develop some sniffles, appetite dropped, she was on 2 different antibiotics for a month for a supposed URI.
For about two weeks she seemed improved, her appetite dropped again, and her nose is moist.
No green poop, activity is great. Even a weight gain.
Her appetite fluctuated for a while, and some nights the nose would be worse than others.
So I thought it could be pollen, the liners... etc. I called the vet, he said just keep an eye on her for now. I did for a few weeks, and then she started losing weight (activity is still great, still drinking water, poop still brown). JUST the appetite and a moist nose.
I took her in, doc floated a fecal sample, didn't find anything but thought it might be parasites anyway and gave me an antibiotic for her stomach to kill any potential parasites and he thought it would spark her appetite a little. Her appetite got minimally better, she hasn't lost anymore weight, but she's the skinniest she's ever been. Not malnurished, and her sides aren't sunken in, but still skinny.
So I have an appointment tomorrow, and I'm baffled.

What should we do to diagnose her? I really don't want to sedate her, and he said if things aren't improved he'll do bloodwork to see if that shows us anything. I was thinking an xray could be good. I want to ensure her liver is ok. I've been syringe feeding her to cause i'm worried about FLD.
Any advice would be awesome, thanks.

**ETA: She eats only the smaller kibble, and slurps the food out of the syringe, so I'm wondering if she just can eat the big hard kibble? Worst case scenario I'm afraid there's a tumor or something on the roof of her mouth. I've tried looking but can't get a good glimpse. :-/ I really hope that's not it though. I'm hopefully being irrational. **
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Old 05-12-2010, 09:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Still not healthy!

Sorry to hear she's not back to 100% yet- you are doing a great job with her keeping her healthy!

If she doesn't eat the larger kibble, she may just not like that particular food or yes, it could be too big/hard. After seeing Inky eat his food very often, last year I decided to switch to cutting every single kibble he gets into smaller pieces each night. I still count kibble (you can tell about how much makes one kibble) each night and it's not too incovenient. Inky started eating more right off the bat and has stayed eating more. I also feel better knowing he isn't working on just the first bite into the kibble for a long time, which I saw him doing with the whole pieces.

You could try cutting them into smaller pieces to see if she will eat them that way. She might be offended you are just feeding her crumbs, though.



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Old 05-12-2010, 02:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Still not healthy!

I've been having similar loss of appetite and weight loss problems with Chloe ever since she got her URI about a month ago. I too ran a fecal sample and it was negative also.

I got her mouth checked out several times, and the vet felt that there was no indication of anything oral and that gassing her to get a closer look wasn't neccessary. I have heard people say sometimes oral tumours/problems cannot be detected unless the hedgehog in under sedation, so if you do decided to sedate her anyways for the xray/bloodwork, make sure the vet looks at her mouth very closely too.

I also tried cutting kibble up (I used a pill cutter - you can buy these at any drug store, and it worked very well) but like LG said I think Chloe was offended by the smaller pieces because she actually ate less! In fact, Chloe picks out the largest kibbles (natural balance green pea & duck and Innova kitten) first before eating the smaller ones, but she's just weird like that

My vet concluded that she was just being fussy and told me to put her on high fat, tastier kitten foods to see if that picked up her appetite. It took about a week for her to accept new foods but now she is eating much better.

Maybe you just need to try playing around with some higher fat foods for her until she finds something she really likes? Innova Kitten (these kibbbles are huge) is a big hit with Chloe, as is Now! and Go! foods and Before Grain Chicken formula (these are all around 20% fat content).

What I've also started doing is giving more bugs and higher fat bugs. I give 4-6 mealworms, 3-4 waxworms (very high fat content) and 1-2 cut up superworms per night. As well, I alternate offering meats, frutis and veggies (a teaspoon or less). I've tried wet cat food, wellness healthy indulgences, sweet potatoe baby food, fruit baby food and some fresh fruits and veggies so far. It takes a long time for Chloe to accept a new food, but I figure at least if the other foods are there, she has an option between that and the kibble. Maybe you could try the same with Emmy if the vet concludes there's no underlying problems?

I hope Emmy gets better and you figure out what's going on! I'd be very interested to hear what your vet comes up with.
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Old 05-12-2010, 05:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Still not healthy!

Thanks for the great advice!
It's interesting our hedgehogs had similar problems after URIs.
Well, she has definitely lost too much weight. She was 396 grams in Feb when we went in with the URI, two and a half weeks ago she was about 300, and now she's 287 not good news.
I brought meal worms to try to make her be more friendly, but she was especially prickly and wouldn't let the vet touch her. I mentioned my concerns that there could be oral problems, so he decided sedation would be best so he could palpate her stomach to check her liver and abdomen and get a really good look inside her mouth.
Everything looked fine, so he then x-rayed her, everything looked fine after that too.
He said try different foods, or at least just get a fresh bag of her current food and see if that sparks her appetite any.
He wants to see her in another 10 days and if she's still losing weight he'll do blood work.
Let's hope new foods well help :-/
Thanks for the great advice about food, Snufflepuff. I'll probably buy a pill cutter and give that a shot. I had already bought from RC Baby Cat, and she has been eating all of it. I'll try giving her some of the other foods you mentioned. Especially some new bugs, she'd love that. Can you get wax worms etc at a Petco? I really don't relish the idea of cutting up a superworm haha.
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Old 05-12-2010, 05:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Still not healthy!

That's great new that the vet hasn't found anything wrong so far! I'm surprised he didn't just take the blood at the same time and do the bloodwork (although I'm sure that would've been a pretty expensive vet bill for you) cause he'll probably have to sedate her again to do the bloodwork later if needed. Hopefully her appetite picks up and you don't need it!

If she's eating the babycat, I would just feed her lots of that. I think with a situation like this it's more important that they eat - no matter what it is. The extra fat in the babycat will hopefully help with the weight too. babycat has corn and what not, but other than that it's not a bad food, even if just for the short term.

I totally understand your concern about the weight loss. Chloe was 600g at her heaviest, 550g at what seemed to be an ideal weight for her and she's now around 470g . So I feel just as awful about the weight loss! Chloe doesn't look malnourished either though, the vet thinks she's actually healthier at the lower weight, but I definitely don't want her to lose any more either.

I get my waxworms at Petsmart, I imagine petco would sell them also. I know cutting up superworms is super gross, but I figure at this point I'll do whatever I have to, to get Chloe to gain at least some weight back.

I hope adding new foods/cutting them into smaller pieces works for you and Emmy!
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Old 05-12-2010, 07:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Still not healthy!

Has Chloe started gaining anything back? I just wonder how long it will take. Emmy's appetite still hasn't really recovered since Feb. Sheesh! I'll definitely throw in more baby cat. I just worry about too much fat and her liver, but I guess anything to get some weight back on.

I would really love not to do the blood work and have her sedated again. The vet bill today was not cheap, not to mention this is the 3rd of 4th time we've gone since Feb. They turn out to be expensive little critters. And for some reason I want more! :P
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Old 05-12-2010, 07:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Still not healthy!

It may be that she is having difficulty eating the full sized kibble. This doesn't mean she has an oral tumour. Sometimes their jaws aren't strong enough. I've had most older ones need softened kibble but even a 1 and some 2 year olds.

RC Baby Cat is generally loved by most because of it's small hedgie sized pieces and the fact that it is higher in fat so really yummy. While it is great for ill and recovering hedgies, sometimes they will decide it is all they want to eat. Instead of feeding it, you could go to a regular kibble which is higher in fat than the light, but not as high as kitten or baby cat. Try breaking up the pieces to make them easier to eat for her. If you do break it up, try to avoid giving her crumbs. For some reason, crumbs sometimes will turn some of them off. I think seeing crumbs they know the food has been broken. My gang have always preferred X or Y shaped kibble as opposed to pellet, oval or round.

If she's not skinny, I wouldn't really worry too much about putting weight back on and just make sure she is eating a decent amount. How old is she?
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Old 05-12-2010, 09:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Still not healthy!

She'll be 2 in June.
I think she's a little thin, her sides sink in some. And when she was sedated today, just seeing her lying flat made her look too thin. She looked like she had deflated or something it was really sad. I can try to get a pick of her. I'm sure y'all could tell better than I can. I've never seen a pic of a skinny hedgie all I know is their sides would be )( instead of ()
I will acquire a pill cutter as soon as I have time, hopefully in the next few days, and we'll see if fresh food helps any.
Also Nancy, which brands are Y/X shaped? I wouldn't mind giving that a try, too.
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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My gang get Chicken Soup Cat Lite and Solid Gold Katz'n'Floken which are both X shaped. I believe all the Chicken Soup versions are X shaped so you could try it in the regular version.
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:49 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Still not healthy!

Thanks so much everyone
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