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Old 03-18-2017, 11:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Oct 2016
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Default Please help: Hunger Strike & Syringe Feeding

Hello all,

Our little Maximus (19 months) has had quite a few problems lately. This is a follow-up to a thread about constipation, which has turned into more of a hunger strike issue. New issue, new thread. See the old thread here:

Basically, there was an inadvertent abrupt change of food when Max's preferred food, Acana Wild Prairie (the one his breeder uses) changed its formula. We didn't notice at first, but the change in taste was enough to make Max less enthusiastic. Also, around the same time, we'd been giving Max a lot of his favourite treat in the world: cooked turkey. Perhaps we gave him a little too much and spoiled him, and this made him even less keen to eat his kibble. The result was stress, reduced eating and constipation.

We tried several remedies suggested here for constipation: warm baths with belly rubs, syringe feeding butternut squash (Max doesn't like pumpkin and despises sweet potato), and oil on the kibble (Max won't touch olive oil, so we used flax seed). All of this seemed to help and there was never a complete interruption of eating, nor a complete cessation of stools. However, the additional changes just added to Max's stress.

We took him to the vet and determined that there was no more serious underlying cause to the constipation (thank goodness), and that it was probably all stress related stemming from the change of food. Also, Max is overweight (671 grams! – although he also comes from big hedgie stock), so the vet recommended we introduce him to Hill's prescription diet r/d (

Since I brought him home from the vet, though, Max hasn't eaten any kibble of his own volition. We gave him a couple of kibbles of the new food just to get him to try it, and he ate a few and anointed, but afterwards was indifferent to it. We mixed a little bit into his regular kibble, but he hasn't touched it. He'll go to his bowl, sniff, and go through all the motions of preparing to chow down, without actually eating. He's even taken some kibble into his mouth and chewed without swallowing, spitting the chewed stuff up. The trouble is that his "old" kibble is also new, because of the change of formula. Poor little guy hasn't had the chance to get used to any of this.

He also drinks less, at least during the times that we're around. He's still running in his wheel all night with no loss of energy or vitality, and he's obviously drinking at night because the level of water in his bottle is going down and he still pees. There is no change in his urine.

We've continued syringe-feeding him squash, but that's probably not enough at this point. He needs to get in some more nutrition. He's pooping in his wheel at night, and it's looser than when he was constipated, though very green from the bile because of the stress. And obviously much less volume, because he's eating a lot less. His constipation issue seems to be over with, but he's on a hunger strike now.

I'm worried about him. I understand I should proceed with syringe feeding, but what would be the best strategy? Should I grind up some kibble and suspend it in water? Should it be all old kibble, or a mix of old and new? Should I mix kibble in with squash? Should I go for wet cat food? (I hesitate to do this because it would be introducing yet another change.) Should I use a mix of vegetable and protein baby foods?

Is it just a question of time? Since he hasn't lost any vitality, is obviously not underweight, and his overall behaviour other than eating hasn't changed, is there cause to worry?

Any advice and suggestions would be most appreciated.
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Last edited by TevaVidal; 03-18-2017 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 03-18-2017, 12:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Manning, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 8,483

Not eating is always a cause to worry. Unfortunate with hedgehogs the less they eat the less they feel like eating. The best bet is to get some Hills A/D from the vet. It's a high nutrient food that is easy to syringe feed. You should try to get 24-30 mls of food in him a day.
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