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Old 02-26-2015, 02:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy No one knows what is wrong - help!

Hi everyone - I need some help figuring out what is going on with my hedgehog, Hunter. He is about 3-4 years old, I've had him for about 1-2 of those years after getting him from a friend.

About 1 month ago I noticed that he wasn't coming out at night (or much at all). I surmised that this was because I was leaving his light on 24/7 because the room he was in recently began to drop in temperature with the weather. Then a week later or so I noticed he wasn't eating and moved him into my bedroom where it was warmer (I'm in an apartment and don't have control of my heat).

Once he was in my bedroom I knew he definitely wasn't eating and acting himself - and after taking him out one night i noticed that he had significantly dropped in weight. I took him to the vet and at this point (a little over a week ago) he was extremely lethargic (when put in the bath he barely moved, he didn't curl up into a ball when the vet initially tried to move him). The exotic vet told me he wasn't exactly sure of the cause but that he was extremely sick and potentially might die. But he sent me home with antibiotics and some food to feed him through a syringe.

It has been a week plus and he is still alive I think he is getting better but it is really hard to tell. He still comes out a few times a day as well as part of the night. In the morning he is still lethargic, his legs (especially his back legs) seem really weak. His legs will also be really weak after he runs a ton on his wheel. However, this weakness seems to go away with rest. It does make him unstable in that period of weakness though where he is dragging himself around his cage and occasionally falling off his wheel. Anyways - He seems to be gaining some of his weight back but won't eat hard cat food that I have fed him up until this started happening. I even tried a new food and no-go. As of now I'm feeding him baby food, peas, fruit - anything he will eat. Feeding him down to about 2 times per day via syringe. We looked in his mouth and it appears there is no problem with his teeth or mouth

Has anyone ever experienced symptoms like this? Not sure what the next step is or what my expectations should be.. Thanks!
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Old 02-26-2015, 03:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Do you know what the actual temperature is in his cage? What type of a heating set up do you have? Does the temperature fluctuate? Do you have a lighting schedule for him? Sorry for all the questions but the more we know the better chance we have of being able to help. Please keep syringe feeding him and try to warm up his cage by a couple of degrees too.
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Old 02-26-2015, 03:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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What exactly did the vet do when you took him there? Did he knock him out with gas and do a full examination? Did he do any sort of ultrasoud or palpate the abdomen. If he did not put your hedgie under with gas then you should go back and ask him to do so. There is no way for them to do a thorough exam without it.
Make sure to soak the kibble for about 30 min. in water and then try offering it to him.
When you say that "we" looked in his mouth and there did not appear to be a problem, do you mean the vet did?
Do you know if they did any blood work on him?
He also may be dehydrated. Like I said, if the vet did not do a thorough exam I would take him back and have them look at all the possibilities.
Also, you could go buy him some wax worms and feed him them. They are very soft and very fattening too!
Good luck,
Susan H.

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Old 02-26-2015, 10:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Nikki - his cage is mid 70s. He is in my room where the temperature is always around 70 somehting and then has a heating lamp which i frequently keep on (it has a red bulb)I don't have a lighting schedule for him because I turn it on whenever it looks like the temperature is getting too low. I feed him twice a day with the syringe now - baby food seems to be working the best.

Shmurciakova - the vet gave him IV fluids. He also palpated the abdomen and didn't find anything. He did not mention an option with putting him under gas but did say that drawing blood was a very risk procedure and hedgehogs only have a 50% change of surviving the procedure alone so we did not do blood work. The vet looked in his mouth. He was definitely dehydrated. They also gave me an antibiotic.

I fear that he has taken a turn for the worst and I'm worried. Up until yesterday it seemed like he was getting better, gaining wait, etc ... but today its almost like he's back to where he started last Tuesday (when i brought him to the vet). Now I'm worried again. I think he is dehydrated again because when I pull up his quills they take a long time to sink back down. I tried giving him 2-3 syringes of water but I'm not sure it helped much. I will definitely try soaking the kibble. He is moving very slow. I am keeping very warm.
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Old 02-27-2015, 12:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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You need to get a steady heat source. A fluctuation of more than 2-3 degrees can cause a hibernation attempt. The best way is to get a Ceramic Heat Emitter with a thermostat to control it. That way the cage will stay a constant temp. Red lights are not good for hedgehogs. Also turn a light on in the room for 12-14 hours each day to simulate daylight.

You can take him into the vet to be given fluids to stop the dehydration. Keep feeding him as much as you can, try to get 24mls of food into him every day and as much water as possible. You might have to try feeding him every few hours instead of just twice a day.
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Old 02-27-2015, 09:48 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I purchased a new heat source for him but it wont be here until early next week. I am very nervous about him. He did seem to be getting better until a few days ago and hes not anymore. I tried to force him to drink through the syringe but im not sure how much i actually got in there. He is literally bones and quills at this point He is continuing to act weird - he keeps falling off his wheel while he runs and getting stuck in between the wheel and the pan and it takes him a few seconds to flip over and get back up on the wheel. He also keeps trying to climb up the side of the cage which he never use to do. It also seemed like a time or two he was foaming at the mouth while he was running on the wheel. I dont know what to do anymore to help him
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Old 02-27-2015, 10:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You can find heat Lamps, CHI bulbs, and thermostats at the pet store usually. They are much more expensive but at least you can get it quickly.

The foaming is probably dehydration
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Old 02-27-2015, 10:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You need to take him back to the vet to get some fluids into him. Dehydration can lead to kidney failure.
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Old 02-27-2015, 11:40 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Personally I'd take his wheel out right now and make 100% sure that you have his cage walls blocked off so he can't climb them. From what you're describing, I'd be concerned about him injuring himself trying to run on his wheel in his current state.

Seconding Nikki's comment too. While you're there, ask your vet if they can show you how to do subcutaneous fluids. If they're willing to show you and you're comfortable with doing so, it would be the best way to get fluids into him even if you can't get him to take water from a syringe. Dehydration can cause an animal to go downhill VERY quickly - and even food is a secondary concern to dehydration. Digesting food takes water, and can make things worse. Fluids are always the first concern after making sure the animal is warm.

Editing to stress...this really is an emergency thing. You need to get him into the vet for fluids tonight or tomorrow. Doing sub-q fluids doesn't take very much time, so even if you have to go sit at the vet's until they can squeeze you in between appointments, do so. He doesn't have much of a chance if he doesn't get hydrated.

Editing again because I wanted to explain why I'm suggesting you learn how to inject fluids into him - to put it in perspective, I work in wildlife rehab, and when we get animals in, the first thing we do is hydrate. For a baby squirrel around the size of a hedgehog, depending on the level of dehydration, we'll inject fluids every 2-4 hours throughout the first day, and continue to give them fluids a few times a day for another day or two afterwards, depending on how they're doing. Our usual rule of thumb is, if they're not eating enough, they're probably dehydrated, so give more fluids. It usually works!

Taking him for another injection of fluids will help, but short-term. It'd probably be expensive for you to take him to the vet every day for the next several days for fluid injections. It'll be easier on your wallet and better for him if you're able to do it a couple times a day until he's better hydrated.
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Old 02-28-2015, 02:34 PM   #10 (permalink)
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First of all, he needs to go back to the vet. Maybe the vet meant that in his current condition drawing blood could be risky? I don't really know if they would even be able to get blood from such a dehydrated hog anyway.
He sounds like he is in bad shape. One thing that they could do is an ultrasound which would give you information about whether or not there is a tumor or a problem with his intestines.
The age that he is, sadly, is when some hedgehogs develop problems. Four years old is not an unreasonable life span. I hope that you all can get him to rally, but I would ask the vet for guidance. It might be time to help him cross if he is not eating and drinking on his own.
Please let us know what happens,
Susan H.
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