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Old 10-28-2014, 10:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Mystery Diagnosis

I would greatly appreciate any advice from some more seasoned hog owners.

Background info:
Knuckles is a male and approximately around the age of 3 (he was a pet store rescue). I have had him for roughly 2 1/2 years. He has enjoyed good health, except for a UTI over the summer that quickly cleared up with some antibiotics. He's on a light schedule, has CHE over his cage that keeps him about 78 degrees, on a mix of chicken soup for the cat lover's soul, as well as, wellness salmon & whitefish and drinks bottled water. Enjoys a combination of treats including mealworms, crickets, scrambled eggs, a few nibbles of banana (on occasion), plain lean ground beef, and plain chicken. He receives some flaxseed oil on his food twice a week to combat dry skin. Otherwise, no issues and he has not had any environmental changes or food changes.

Saturday morning I woke to find only half of his kibble eaten, Knuckles usually eats an entire tablespoon nightly and gets offered fresh treats around 11pm. I decided to give him a once over and noticed his poop was slightly decreased, which I attributed to lower intake. I decided to monitor him closely because of the sudden change in behaviors. Sunday he ate a few bites of kibble and there was zero evidence of bucket wheel use, no urine or feces. I called to get him into his vet, which he saw Monday. I decided to syringe him food just to make sure he was getting something into his tummy so there wasn't bile tearing up his gut. He was getting 2cc every 3ish hours and tolerated it well. No trouble breathing, no discharge from eyes or nose, nothing I could see wrong with his teeth or gums no swelling, urine was a pale yellow. Literally, just his poop being green and him not wheeling or wanting to eat. The BMs began getting a little sticky/mucous so I firmed him up with a little sweet potato. So, now he has formed dark green poops.

The vet visit she said he sounded clear, eyes looked good, no discharge from nose, they checked his poop, a sample I threw in the fridge and one he produced while waiting for her to come into the room. Nothing was out of the ordinary. While feeling around his belly she said everything felt soft, but noticed a tiny firm bump that she is suspecting could be an inflamed lymph node because of the intestinal troubles. The vet suspects some sort of intestinal infection. With no real clear cut answer she prescribed him Baytril twice a day(which he's taken before) and sent us home with some Hills A/D and wants him brought back in if he is not doing any better by Thursday/Friday.

Since his appointment he has remained the same. Not as active, no wheeling. Food intake is a few pieces of kibble and a worm or two, I syringe to make up some of the difference. Urine is pale yellow, poop is formed somewhat sticky dark green. No breathing difficulties, no eye boogers, no nose boogers, nada. The only thing I can think to mention is he urinated on my gray shirt (which he never ever does anymore) and dead center of the pee circle was some white goo. I know he has "boy time", but he was not having an extravaganza down under and it happened right as he urinated on me. Maybe some left overs or something to be concerned about?

Because of the Baytril I've been giving him probiotics a few hours before his antibiotic dose. Before when he was on Baytril he had zero problems (he was also on probiotics then). Not even a green poop. Knuckles is having trouble taking the Baytril this time though. He spits it out on me almost every time I syringe it in. I've attempted the alternating food/baytril/food trick and was unsuccessful. He will not eat it if it's put in a mealworm. He's too observant of a hedgehog ;-;. Any suggestions for more accurate administration? I'm concerned he's not getting a proper dose because of his serious resistance.

Anyone have any clue as to what could be going on with him? It started really sudden and I can think of no precipitating factors. I'm concerned about bump she felt in his belly. Could all of this be some sort of cancer? I know all of his food is still fresh and unexpired. Everything he gets treat wise is cooked to death. I'm running out of ideas and he's still a sickly little hog. I know the antibiotics take a few days to kick in, but I am a very worried hog mom.

I apologize in advance for the long read. It's very rambly and disconnected. Super tired between taking care of the little guy and working weird hours at the hospital. All feedback is much appreciated.
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Old 10-29-2014, 10:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm sorry Knuckles isn't feeling well! Sucks for everyone when hedgies are sick...I know it's difficult trying to do round-the-clock care & syringe feedings.

I've never had a male, so I'm not 100% sure about the urine issue. But I would at least mention it to the vet and see if they feel a need to check his urine again in case it's another UTI, just in case. Honestly, the only other thing I can think of is did they just check his poop for parasites & such, or did they do a culture to check for bacteria? I could be wrong, but I think checking for intestinal infections takes longer than what could be done during a vet visit (unless they called you later with results from the fecal test). Sometimes it can take a specific antibiotic to tackle a specific bacterial infection, so if they haven't already done so, a culture for that might give more direction for treatment.

If his digestive track is already out of whack with whatever's going on, the Baytril can just make things worse in that respect (though obviously antibiotics are needed for the bad bacteria anyway). I would try giving the probiotics a couple hours after his antibiotics instead, if you can. Giving them before, they don't have much time to help out before the antibiotics come through.

How are you alternating the food & antibiotics? Is it straight food, then straight Baytril, then straight food? Maybe try mixing them together a bit more so the food helps to mask the Baytril taste? The Hill's A/D might help with that, or something strong-tasting like chicken & sweet potato baby food mixed with green bean or carrot baby food. You could also bring that up to the vet. Sometimes they can compound the medicine with a flavoring and make it taste less awful. Still doesn't work for some hedgies, but might be worth a try!

If you're at a dead end for answers, a "last resort" kind of test might be getting a blood test done. Sometimes that can give some clues as to whether there might be something more serious going on. It may not, but if he continues to show no improvement and you guys run out of other ideas, it might be worth trying.

I'm going to PM Kalandra & Nancy as well, and see if either of them have some advice. They both have a lot more health experience than I do, so if they contradict anything I've said, listen to them. Good luck and let us know how your little guy is doing. I'll cross my fingers that he feels better soon!
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Old 10-29-2014, 09:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks so much for the reply and well wishes!

I know they checked for parasites and such and I believe they were sending it for a culture.
As for the Baytril I have mixed it in a small amount of the Hills A/D, but he's still incredibly reluctant. Even with a few mLs of food in his belly pre-Baytril he's having trouble tolerating it. He dry heaved about 30 minutes post Baytril tonight. Nothing came up and he laid back down afterwards. I have decided to take him back to the vet tomorrow. He's no better or worse, but I would like to make him as comfortable as possible. I am well aware it can take a while for the Baytril to start working too. I'm just worried about his reaction to the Baytril. I know with his reluctance to eat he is at a higher risk for FLD so I am diligently keeping watch. I've read on the forum that there's a few options for medications to coat their tummies to ease the blow of the antibiotics and I want to speak to the vet about it. I have also switched to probiotics a few hours post antibiotic.
He did urinate again with a small glob of "goo" at the center. I feel awful I can't do more for him . I really want him to get well. Still no other signs of what could be causing the sudden illness. Poops are still green, but it's hard to tell if they're Baytril green or something else going on green.
I plan on suggesting bloodwork and possibly some sub-q fluids and maybe even steroids to stimulate his appetite? I'm kind of at a loss. Any suggestions as far as best treatment options/questions for the vet I am all ears. I usually go in with a laundry list of questions written down to begin with but sometimes outside perspective helps loads.
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Old 10-29-2014, 09:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Honestly, I can't think of anything that you aren't already doing or planning on asking for. I know my experience is limited too, but you sound like you're doing a great job. It's so hard having them sick. Poor little guy. He's definitely getting the best care though, so I hope that gives you some small amount of comfort. Sending lots of good thoughts, let us know how the vet visit goes!
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Old 10-30-2014, 08:56 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Its hard to tell what is going on with these little ones sometimes. A really bad intestinal infection can come on suddenly and knock them down hard. They can be difficult to treat, and sometimes you just don't get enough time to combat them. I lost one a couple of years ago to one. He was fine at 10pm, acting very normal. But 6am he had not eaten, had not been active, was weak to the point he was falling over by 7am, and by 8am had intestinal bleeding (we were at the vet's office by then). We were unable to stop the infection in time. No idea where it came from as the other hedgehogs were fine.

Keep doing what you are doing.

A sub-q may not be a bad idea, especially if he isn't drinking and is vomiting.

Get a couple of cans of Hills A/D from your vet. Not only is it easy to syringe feed, it often is very well liked by hedgehogs and easy to digest.

Make sure you talk to your vet about the dry heaving. There are medications that can be given to help settle his stomach (we've used Pepcid before), or a different antibiotic may be needed.

As to steriods, that may not be a great idea if this is indeed a bad infection. Steriods tend to lower the immune system. But ask your vet about it anyway.
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