Need help making sense of having to put my hedgehog to sleep after WHS diagnosis - Hedgehog Central Hedgehog pet care & owner forum
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Old 11-03-2019, 12:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Need help making sense of having to put my hedgehog to sleep after WHS diagnosis

I just had to put my Hedgie to sleep yesterday, she was 3 1/2 years old. On Tuesday night I noticed my little Hedgie was limping, I brought her to the vet the next day. The vet diagnosed her with having a sprained leg. He gave me some anti-inflammatory medication to give her. I was giving Hedgie the medication as prescribed. On Thursday night I noticed that her condition had gotten worse, she couldn't really walk and when she attempted to stand she couldn't. I called the vet right away Friday morning and brought her in that day. It was at that time that the vet determined that Hedgie most likely had WHS. The vet told me there wasn't a cure for WHS. I told him I didn't want her to suffer. I asked what he would do if he were me and he said he would most likely euthanize. Having already researched WHS I knew that there was no cure and that she was just going to continue to deteriorate. I ultimately decided that putting her to sleep was what was best for Hedgie, I couldn't stand to see her in pain and struggling.

I was a mess at the vet clinic, I was sobbing because I think I knew what the diagnosis would be and that it was probably going to be her time. I haven't been able to stop crying since making the decision. I think what I am struggling the most is that I feel that I didn't have enough time to say goodbye or prepare emotionally of losing Hedgie. I still can't believe that the first time she displayed symptoms of WHS was on Wednesday and then on Friday she was gone. I just can't believe how quickly it progressed. I was very attentive and always did everything I could to care for her, and I feel like I would have noticed slight symptoms if there were any before Wednesday.

Also, when I asked the vet if I could be with her when she passed, they said I couldn't be in the room because they use a gas to sedate her before injecting the euthanizing chemicals, and OSHA rules don't allow non-veterinary clinic staff to be in the room with the gas. Is this typical to what other hedgehog owners have experienced when having to put their hedgehog to sleep? I mean don't know why my vet would have a reason to lie to me about it, but I just want to make sense of it. I was devastated that I couldn't be with her.

Does anyone have any tips or recommendations on how to get through this sad time? I know it will get easier with time. I just miss her so much. I can't even go into the room where Hedgie's cage was.
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Old 11-03-2019, 03:54 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Whs can't be diagnosed until after death, so you may want to get the vet to do that and give you paper work to prove it - then tell the breeder (if you remember them/ got hedgie from a breeder) with a copy of the papers to prove it, so they dont use those lines anymore to prevent it happening to others.

It also seemed to be too fast and could have actually just been a spinal issue that could have been helped, or even arthritis, a tumour pressing on the spine that could have been removed, or any number of other things that could potentially have been treated.
I know this won't help now - but for future if you get anymore if they say whs, give them loads of other suggestions! The problem with vets is they jump to whs when actually it could be so many other things that are treatable! Whs should be a last resort.
It could also be another neurological disease other than whs. Personally I would want the vet to do some tests and show me evidence of what it is, so I know.

I've never had to put any pet down so I have no idea on that. But its likely to be true.

Getting through deaths is different for everyone to be honest, its about finding what helps you get through it. I know plenty who get another pet to help them through and others who don't. I can't give any tips but what helps me probably won't help anyone else!
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Old 11-05-2019, 09:39 AM   #3 (permalink)
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It seems strange that the vet would not allow you into the room. I would encourage you to talk to him/her if you want. I am very sorry. But maybe vets are different where you live than where I live? I am so sorry and good luck.
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Old 11-06-2019, 09:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Was this vet very knowledgeable about hedgehogs? You might check out a few other vets, to be sure. …. I was with my hedgie Marley as he passed away. The vet took him in another room to sedate him, then brought him back in the exam room so I could be with Mar when he went to sleep. I thought it was an injection, not a gas. Even if it was a gas, why couldn't they bring your baby back into the exam room for you after they administered it? I could be wrong about this but I think vets have a harder time sedating smaller animals - hedgies, rabbits, even small dogs. I have Chihuahuas and every time I've had to let one of them go, they take them out of the room for the first step. But I've never had a vet tell me I couldn't be there when they gave them the last shot. … Also, my MarleyMoo did have WHS, verified by necropsy. Please try to take comfort in that if that was what she had, she didn't have to suffer. It is a horrible, miserable thing to watch happen to your baby. Again, very sorry for your loss.
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Old 11-06-2019, 11:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I’m sorry for your loss! With my pets I do a memorial of some sort. Anything from sitting at their grave and talking about the good times, to planting a tree and later making something from a branch as a part of them. Sometimes, we aren’t able to have that end of life moment, if we don’t have a place to bury them or get them cremated, so a piece of their hammock or a toy can be a surrogate to help with the process. Some places will do a paw print cast or with paint as part of their way to help you say goodbye.
With vets letting you in during the whole process, it’s entirely up to their procedure. I’ve had them let me assist because they know me and know how I’ll react, and I’ve had them only let me be with my pet afterwards, when I know they’ve already passed. I think most vets now do that. That way they can walk out to give you a few moments and they also don’t have to worry about an owner becoming hysterical during the process. I don’t know about the OSHA excuse, but it sounds like the sort of thing that someone wouldn’t want to argue over. Some of the other options can be difficult for an animal so tiny and would be stressful. Be reassured that they treated your baby with respect and made those last moments as stress free a possible.
I hope you can find peace and some comfort that, while you will have questions, you did what you felt was right with the intention of releasing her from pain. That’s what we are all charged with when we bring these little ones into our lives; the best lives we can give them, and the kindest goodbyes, as well.
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:30 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Any vet I've ever dealt with prefers to have the owner in the room when a pet is put to sleep as it helps the pet be less stressed. Personally I've never worked with, or met, a vet that doesn't allow the owner to be present.

As already stated WHS can't be diagnosed except with a necropsy after death. WHS is a very slow progressing disease and it usually takes months before the hedgehog loses the ability to walk so I don't think it was WHS. Unfortunately many vets jump to that conclusion any time they see a mobility issue in a hedgehog
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Old 11-08-2019, 11:09 AM   #7 (permalink)
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No wonder you are so upset. Going through such a thing will be upsetting enough, but to have a vet who wouldn't allow you to be with her, well that is just maddening. Find yourself a new veterinarian.

I've been offered the option to not be there in case I couldn't handle it, but never have I been told I couldn't be there and I've used a few clinics over the years that I wouldn't normally take a hedgehog too, but emergencies happen.
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