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Old 09-04-2014, 03:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Malnutrition & can't stay upright

I made an account just so I could share this and get some thoughts and advice. Hopefully someone can help! This is quite long, but I'll put the summation here: My 4 year old hedgehog has ended up malnourished and cannot stay upright (falls over whenever she tries to walk). After a vet visit to address the most immediate issues, all that's left is syringe feeding her supplements and baby food until she regains enough health and strength to be able to eat on her own. My concerns are at the bottom the post!

I have a 4 year old (4 years, a month, and 2 days to be exact) female hedgehog named Lilo. Over the past 3 weeks she's been losing weight and the ability to walk. She had been getting a bit better and then I went away for a week, leaving her in my brother's care. I seriously regret doing this because when I got back she seemed to have gotten so much worse. I feel like a terrible mommy for leaving her in someone else's care other than my own. She completely stopped eating in my absence and can't stay upright. She constantly falls to one side and if I'm not there to pick her up and steady her, she's stuck there. This has resulted in what looks like a sore and various cuts on her legs on the side she always falls on. It's like she needs the equivalent training wheels to stay up.

I called the breeder I got her from a couple days ago and she said to try my best to get her to eat and then call back and give her an update. Well, nothing improved so when I called her again yesterday she suggested a vet visit. I took Lilo to the vet today and although I knew she was seriously skinny, I was not expecting her to weigh only 154g. I was looking at pictures from 2 weeks ago and she looks so much better than she does today. I'll be forever kicking myself for going away. We ended up giving her fluids to help with the dehydration (she drinks, but not enough) and a vitamin injection to make up for some of the nutrition she is so obviously lacking. I'm going to be feeding her a supplement suggested by the vet and baby food through a syringe until she (hopefully) gains enough strength to stand on her own and feed herself. As for the water, every two hours or so I hold her steady in front of her shallow water dish for her to drink. Previously she wouldn't even drink but over the past few days she eagerly laps it up until she's satisfied. Thank goodness!

So, my main questions are if any of you have had a similar experience and how did it turn out for your hedgie? I'm going to be giving her the supplement every day and I'll be feeding her the baby food multiple times a day but I'm unsure just how much. Any suggestions? She's such a sweet, good girl. She'll tolerate anything I do to her so however much I need to handle her, she will allow it.

And finally, given her age, I'm concerned that this could be her dying. The vet offered to euthanize her but I feel like she still has so much life in her. She tries so hard to walk and if I'm there to keep her upright and steady, she walks and explores for as long as she wants (usually at least an hour). 2 years ago there was another time where she became very thin (not as bad as this time) but that was because she was running around way too much and not eating enough. That was an easy fix but she's been naturally thinner and small her whole life. I know hedgehogs can live well past 4 years and I hope after this episode that will be the case for her.

Thank you for any advice and thoughts you guys can give. I appreciate it all and I'm sorry this was such a read!
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Old 09-04-2014, 04:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I took in a rescue a few years ago that was suffering from malnutrition. She had lost all her teeth and her family didn't notice and thought she was just being picky. She did well on syringe feeding (we used Hills A/D from the vet) and once she was strong enough to eat on her own she loved her softened kibble and lived for over a year with me. Her malnutrition was so bad that she lost the sight in both her eyes and most of her quills. It also caused a heart murmur. She never got her sight back and always had the heart murmur but about 75% of her quills did grow back. Don't give up on your girl, as long as she is willing to eat keep syringe feeding her and offer her some softened kibble or baby food in her cage in between feedings. Keep it close to her so she can eat without getting up.
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Old 09-04-2014, 04:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Fortunately, Lilo still has her sight, most of her teeth and all of her quills. I noticed that a total of 3 had fallen out throughout this whole thing. I was concerned about the cuts because they could so easily get infected but thankfully I was able to stay on top of cleaning up after her so nothing became infected. Her poop is green and total mush. I'm hoping as she eats more substantial foods it'll return to normal. If not of course I'll be taking her to the vet again. Thank you so much for sharing. It gives me hope for her recovery!
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Old 09-04-2014, 04:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'll back up what Nikki said. So long as they are willingly trying to eat and are still trying to fight, we fight. I also highly recommend looking at getting some Hills A/D from your veterinarian. Its easy to syringe, and is a good recovery formula food.
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Old 09-05-2014, 03:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I'll go pick up some of the Hills a/d tomorrow and start feeding it to her. She already seems to be doing better. She is able to stay up longer and overall seems more stable. She even ate a tiny bit on her own! She's got this full body shaky/off balanced sort of wobble going on (breeder has never had any history of whs though. I just can't think of a better word). She will be standing still and all of a sudden start doing it. I can't tell if it's just her fighting to keep her balance or something more. Her cage is warm enough and she doesn't feel cold at all. But besides that everything about her seems to already be improving.
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Old 09-05-2014, 03:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I took in a rescue hedgehog who was dumped outside a couple of weeks ago. She was malnourished and infested by mites, fleas and ticks and not able to stand or move at all. I've been syringe feeding her three times a day (in the beginning) with Hills a/d and she has made great progress. I documented it, you can watch the videos on my YT account https://www.youtube.com/user/RedAeron/videos it might be of some use to you.
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Old 09-05-2014, 10:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Bente, that is an amazing transformation! Thank you for documenting and sharing. Ataraxia, you came to the right place for advice and support. Best wishes for you and your girl.
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Old 09-06-2014, 08:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
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She has been such a little fighter, she runs in her wheel now every night while she could barely lift her head a few weeks ago.

Ataraxia how's it going? I hope she will recover
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Old 09-06-2014, 09:22 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Sorry for the lack of update, it's been busy dealing with her and school and work. Thank you for uploading those videos! That transformation really is amazing. If Lilo's walking doesn't improve I'm definitely going to try using a sling like you did. That was such a great idea. She can't get up on her own still but once she's up she's pretty much okay, falling occasionally but still far less than she used to be. She's gained 20g so far.. is that a good pace for her to be gaining weight? 20g in 2 days. I'm feeding her the Hills a/d 3 times a day. After 2ml she starts to slow down swallowing and turns away from the syringe so each feeding shes getting about 2.5ml. Her tummy must have shrunk but does that seem like a good amount? It seems so little to me. Thank you guys so so much for the well wishes and helping me through this!
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Old 09-06-2014, 09:41 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The videos are so inspiring and informative, even through just show and tell.
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