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Old 07-22-2014, 09:25 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Need some advice...

My little Pepi has lost motor function in her front two legs so she has been scooting around and falling over a lot. I try to keep her as comfortable as possible but there are many times where I'll come home from work and find her on her side, unable to get herself up. She'll be breathing very heavily and look so frustrated and defeated. I hand feed her a mixture of wet food with water because she cannot get to her food and water dish anymore. She's lost so much weight and gets really frustrated when I try to play with her. I'm not sure what to do anymore... I feel like she is miserable, struggling all the time like this. I try my best to keep her upright, feed her, give her as much attention as I can without making her more frustrated and upset.

I don't know if it's better to just keep her comfortable or if I should put her down. I'm so torn right now, could I get some advice? What would you guys do in this situation? ): I feel so down trying to figure out what to do, most importantly what is best for her.
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Old 07-22-2014, 09:39 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You're a great owner for trying your best to keep her comfortable. And I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. But honestly, the most important question to ponder is, how is her quality of life? If she seems miserable, I believe it's not fair to her to keep her in that condition. It's definitely not the easiest decision, and ultimately, it's yours, but you have to think about what's best for your little Pepi. Good luck with everything, sending good thoughts your way.
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:30 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you so much, I honestly feel like I terrible owner but I know that I can't really magically fix her WHS (although I wish I can!). I just feel so bad because I want to spend time with her but she gets so frustrated doing anything, especially being picked up. I'll have to think long and hard about what to do. I really wish WHS was not a thing! Thank you again, I really appreciate your kind words, it means a lot.
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm sorry this is happening to her. How old is she? Has the vet come to any diagnoses? Although WHS can't be diagnosed until after death, they can rule out other possibilities that might be curable.

Loosing function in the front legs is more difficult for them than rear legs. Are you syringe feeding her enough that she shouldn't be loosing weight? Weight loss, and muscle loss is a symptom of WHS but if she's not eating enough to maintain her weight, that could also be the reason.

I personally would go by your vets recommendation after some testing to ensure WHS is the most probable diagnoses. Some of them are still very content with their lives as they are loosing mobility and are happy to be cuddled. Others are miserable. If this is WHS, the fact that it started in her front legs is going to be more frustrating and difficult for her than had it started in the rear.

You can set up her cage so things are easier for her. Very low sided dishes are best so she can lay to eat. Use a liner that is firmly attached to the sides of the cage so it won't bunch up as she struggles to move. Depending on the size of her cage, perhaps downsizing would be helpful. What does she sleep in? Sometimes just a double or triple layered fleece blanket or a hat works well as they can crawl under from any side.
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Old 07-22-2014, 12:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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She is 23 months old. I took her to the vet several times when this first started happening and they told me, "We don't know what it is. It could be WHS, but we won't know until she passes" just as you mentioned. They said I should just syringe feed her as needed and that's about all I can do...other than consider euthanasia.

I syringe feed her because she cannot get to her bowl, even though both her bowls after very low. Since it's her front legs that have no mobility, she has a really hard time lifting herself up even with the lowest bowls. It's not a problem syringe feeding her, she doesn't mind it too much except she tends to get very squirmy when I'm finishing up..but that's to be expected!

She has paper bedding since she wasn't a huge fan of the fleece, she loves burrowing in the paper bedding, but I can change it up to fleece again if that'll help her move about and sit upright. I saw someone online on another site had mentioned putting fleece on either side of her to keep her upright since she has a hard time staying on her front.

Thanks so much for all the advice and help, Nancy!! I really appreciate it.
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Old 07-22-2014, 01:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I had to put down my hedgehog Mason as he had WHS. It started it his back legs though. He wasn't able to move around to get to his food bowl, so I was syringe feeding him. He always loved running on his wheel and when he was unable to do that, even with the modifications I made, he went downhill. One day he was just acting different- like he had given up. It broke my heart. I decided to let him go at that point as he didn't seem to be enjoying life.
My other hedgehog Molly, had a brain tumour and would fall and not be able to get up. It became too dangerous as I couldn't leave her water dish in her cage as she would fall in and not be able to get out. One night she could no longer stand.
It is such a hard decision to make. I think your hedgie will let you know in her own way when she has had enough and is ready to go.
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I am so sorry you had to watch both your babies go through that - my heart goes out to you!

Your words really stuck with me, that she'll let me know when she is ready to go.

Just an hour ago I changed her bedding and syringe fed her...and she was actually excited! I was sitting around watching a show when I heard her eating from her regular food bowl! I really don't know what happened, what gave her that spark to keep going but I am ecstatic right now!!

Thank you all for your kind words - I really do think my Pepi is still wanting to hang on and she finally showed me tonight.
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Old 07-23-2014, 01:44 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Oh, that is awesome! If it is WHS, it kind of fluctuates- some days Mason did really well and other days he didn't. If he was really active the day before, he tended to do less the next day.
With Mason I also made sure that I took him out everyday and had him be active. The vet suggested it to keep up his muscle tone (my boyfriend at the time made fun of me for doing "hedgie rehab"). I honestly don't know if it made a difference, but it was nice spending that time with him.
Keep me updated on how she is doing
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Old 07-23-2014, 09:28 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Shavings, carefresh, or any type of loose bedding makes for a more difficult surface to try and maneuver on. The bedding moves with them so they don't really get anywhere. Using a liner that is firmly attached so it can't move, will give them traction so they aren't wasting energy with bedding that is moving along with them.

Since she likes to burrow, give her the firmly attached liner, but put some pieces of fleece in an area on top. She'll still have the firm surface to help her move, but she can also burrow if she wants. You may find burrowing isn't quite as high a priority for her now and as long as she can squirm around easier and get under something to sleep, she may be content.

You can use rolled up tubes of fleece on either side of her to help her get around on her own, although, with it being her front legs, she's still going to be face planting rather than rear leg dragging.

WHS does come and go. They can almost seem to improve a bit almost like a remission, and then go downhill again. My Cinder would not progress for months and then all of a sudden get worse and then stay at that level for another few months.

Don't give up on her quite yet. Both you and she can learn some ways of giving her a bit more independence.
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