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Old 10-24-2013, 11:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Losing some quills - Signs of infection?

Hey everyone!

Reggie has been doing well lately, but I have noticed he has dry skin. He gets an Aveeno bath once every 10 days or so, and I have flaxseed oil that I apply to his skin (or in the rinse water) when I notice bad flare ups. However, I have noticed more quill loss recently. Reggie never lost more than one or two quills in the year that I owned him (until August) in the last few weeks (since August) I have noticed an increase of quills in his cage. Last night we counted 7.

Should I bring him to the vet to check for mites and a skin infection? Are there any signs I should be looking for? His eating, wheeling, and pooping have been normal.

Because his behavior hasn't changed I am not sure if I am being paranoid and it is just dry skin, or if something else could be going on.

As a note: he is on fleece bedding, there are no other pets in the house, and he is about 1 year and 8 months old (he is a rescue, so exact birthdate and health history are unavailable)
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Yes, I'd take him to the vet for a mite-check and a skin scraping. If any of the quills have skin tags attached, bag 'em and bring them with you for easier analysis. If you suspect a skin infection, stop with the oil because it can make things worse. Not entirely sure of the symptoms for a skin infection, but I think maybe redness?
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Old 10-24-2013, 03:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I gave him a bath for an easier skin analysis and he lost a few quills in the water. I didn't notice any redness, but he has been very flaky. He also keeps shaking (like a wet dog would) which makes me think he is a little itchy (no scratching seen.) I made a vet appointment for tomorrow and will bring some quills along, thanks for the advice! I didn't do an oil rinse today and haven't for a few days. I will be sure to keep him oil free until I hear an all clear from a vet!

Thanks!
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Old 10-24-2013, 04:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I know a few users recently gained experience with bacterial and fungal skin infections, so I'm hoping they'll jump in with their experiences.

Expect to have a skin scraping done -- I don't know what that involves, except no sedation and it's less invasive than a biopsy.

I've read in the archives about some theories that hedgehogs can go through seasonal quill-loss -- I've noticed mine shedding, but that's it. The theories are, like most things hedgehog-related, anecdotal. Everything could be totally fine, but you've noticed a significant enough set of behavioural changes paired with physical changes that I think a vet-visit to rule out other options is totally worth it. Good luck!
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Old 10-24-2013, 08:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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A vet visit won't hurt, but it could just be dry skin, with the weather changing & a lot of people are using their heating now, which dries the air out. A humidifier can help with that as well. But since it can be hard to tell & you don't want to make it worse by trying to fix the wrong thing, vet might be a good idea!

Other signs of a skin infection can be red dots on the skin or differently colored skin (Lily had kind of yellowish, moist skin with chunky-ish flakes when she had a yeast infection, though the yellow could have been from flaxseed oil - she got the infection from too much oil on her skin ). She had a bacterial infection before the yeast infection (we weren't having a good month!) and I noticed that from the tiny red dots - about the size of a pinprick, really.
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Old 10-24-2013, 11:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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My hedgie Ernie recently had a bacterial skin infection poor little guy! So this was my whole experience: it started out quite mild. He had some dry skin that was progressively getting dryer and flakey, initially I assumed my little guy was quilling (as the timing was right) however I started getting really concerned the day I took him out and his quill loss was in the double digits ( like 20!) after a closer inspection I saw bleeding, inflamed and pus pockets around some of his quills, needless to say I took Ern to the vet the next day. Turns out he had a bacterial infection....the vet prescribed two types of antibiotics, I know one of them was metacam for sure, but can't remember the name of the other. After his round of antibiotics he healed up wonderfully! Some of the weak and damaged quills are still in the process if falling out and new ones are now growing in, thankfully! Hope this helps a little!
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Old 10-26-2013, 12:49 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The vet gave him a dose of Revolution and said to let me know if things don't improve. Lilysmommy--his skin does look dry and has yellow skin flakes gathering. It sounds an awful lot like the same thing! If his skin doesn't improve with the Revolution I will have him checked for other types of skin infections. She looked at some of his quills under the scope, but didn't do an official skin scrape (the quills had the bulb on them, so she looked at that)
I am thinking I will give the Revolution a few days to work and keep a close eye on his skin/behavior in the meantime. It really is beginning to sound more like a skin infection than a mite problem though.

Thanks everyone!
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Old 10-29-2013, 03:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Another update:

Reggie's skin didn't improve at all after the Revolution treatment. Even though I know it takes time to work I became worried that mites weren't the issue after all. He is on fleece bedding, there are no other animals in the house, and his bag of food was frozen for three months before we began using it. These all suggest to me that an external parasite isn't likely.

After lilymommy's comment about a yeast infection I became rather convinced that was the issue. (as we have used flaxseed oil on him in the past, and got a little carried away last time )So he went back to the vet today to get a fungal culture done. Several quills fell off while there as well as many skin flakes. The vet placed all the quills and many of the flakes into the culture. Results will take up to two weeks, but I am hoping this resolves his problem once and for all!

I don't know what I would do without all these experienced hedgie parents on the forum. It can be hard to find a vet (even an exotics vet) who has a much experience as everyone here does!
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Old 10-29-2013, 10:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Good luck! I hope the test comes up with the problem so you guys can get it resolved. I agree, I'm a huge fan of animal-related forums now, especially for the more unusual pets where it's harder to find good information and vets may not know a lot!
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Old 11-08-2013, 03:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I am going to continue to update this thread for the benefit of those whose hedgehogs may be experience similar symptoms.

The Revolution seemed to be working, and his quill loss slowed, but in the past few days his skin flakiness and quill loss has returned with abundance. I got a call from the vet this morning to let me know that his fungal culture has come up positive. It will be sent to a lab to determine what has grown, and from there treatment will be determined.

I've learned several things through all of this:
It is NOT always mites. Reggie was at very low risk for getting an external parasite. If your hedgehog is as well, and is experiencing similar symptoms, may as well get a fungal culture alongside a skin scrape.

There is a fine line between moisturizing the skin and making the skin overly moist. I've ordered humilac for use after all of this clears up.

I will keep everyone here updated on the official diagnosis. Thanks!
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