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Old 11-13-2018, 11:23 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help - Something new in hedgies mouth

I'll start off by saying I am taking my hedgie to the vet later this afternoon. I just wanted a little advice or anything at all before I go even.

I adopted Truffles in May, she was 4, turning 5 that month. Everything has been great. However yesterday when I went to check on her in the morning, I noticed she hadn't been in her wheel and she hadn't eaten. I picked her up, and she felt a little cold to the touch on her belly. I sat her down and when she walked, she was a little wobbly and it seemed like her head was shaking a little. I got under warm covers with her and placed her on my belly. After an hour so she seemed much warmer and I put her back. She drank water right away and walked perfectly fine this time to her bed!

However in all this, I noticed it looks like there is a little lump under her lip, on her gums. This freaked me out but I was at least happy she warmed up and seemed happier. Last night, she ate, ran in her wheel, and is walking normally. However, the lump seems a tiny bit bigger today.

Of course I've now been researching about abscesses and tumors etc as I know they can be common. I'm so scared to take her to the vet and get bad news 😢 I guess I just wanted a little advice or your possible thoughts on what this might be in the mean time and what I should be doing. She is my first hedgie also. I love her dearly and don't want her to suffer.

Thank you all so much
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Old 11-13-2018, 11:50 AM   #2 (permalink)
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My advice. Don't be afraid. Take her to the vet and have it checked out. Not all lumps are cancerous, some are treatable. The only way to find out what it is and how to treat it is to go to a vet and have it examined. It is better to go now, get it looked at and come up with the game plan of what to do now. Sadly, part of hedgehog ownership is dealing with lumps and bumps. It happens.

Take in your quilled one. Come up with questions to ask before you go. Discuss with your vet chances of long term pain/suffering, etc. We have a policy here that basically if it can be removed with minimal permanent damage to the hedgehog, and quality of life can be maintained, then we usually remove it. If quality of life is going to be bad, or removal is going to cause a great deal of suffering (for example removal of jaw bone), then we look towards hospice. Its all about quality of life and not quantity.


I've had several who went in, had surgery or even just a round of antibiotics and they were fine afterwards. I've also dealt with plenty of cancer over the years. Go in, find out what is going on, and love them while they are here.
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Old 11-13-2018, 01:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you so much for your advice! It really helps honestly. I guess because I am a first time hedgie owner, I am afraid of not knowing what to do or what direction to go in if it did come to a choice of surgery vs hospice etc. I hate not knowing enough and not feeling confident in my choices when it comes to something like that. Whatever it is right now, it's maybe a tad smaller than the size of a pea.

We are leaving very shortly, I really appreciate your comments, advice and reassurance. Thank you so much.
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Old 11-13-2018, 01:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Oh! Just a question - in what scenarios were only antibiotics needed? I assume that would only work in the case of an infection? Obviously I'm hoping it's something simple and not serious!
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Old 11-13-2018, 01:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Infections, yes. Occasionally a hard mass might actually just be an infection.



We had one rescue who was with us less than 2 weeks and developed a hard mass in the soft tissue under his tongue. Doc and I were both fairly positive it was cancer due to how it looked/felt. We took a fine needle asperate and examined under microscope and saw abnormal cells (usually means cancer). We started him on pain meds and antibiotics to try to reduce swelling to give him more time. We were both shocked when the mass went completely away. What we were fairly certain was cancer turned out to be infection. So it can happen.


I don't intend to give you false hope that it will be all fine. Cancer is very common, but I do want to encourage folks to take them in, and consider options. Sometimes you get lucky and it can be treatable. But usually that only happens if you don't wait too long. Good luck.
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Old 11-13-2018, 04:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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We're back. It is definitely a growth/tumor of some sort for sure 😢. It is definitely the lower jaw, and it goes back farther than I can see from just the outside. She is going to consult with a specialist in this kind of thing and then call me in a couple of days. The vet is going to call me back soon with a quote for removal. But besides the other day, she is still active and lastnight she did eat and drink and exercise. She was so out and about in the vets office today too which I wasn't expecting. I'm really really sad right now with this news but I'm going to not try to think about that stuff until I hear back better on a prognosis and stuff.

I just don't know how to decide whether or not to put her through surgery at her age. Like at what point do I say no, because right now I want to do everything I can for her. But I also don't want to put her through this if she could pass not long from now; or do I leave it until she can't eat any longer and needs to be humanely euthanized. How quickly did these things progress in your hedgies when it did turn out to be cancer? Thank you so much for all of your support today.
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Old 11-13-2018, 05:17 PM   #7 (permalink)
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It all depends on the hedgehog and the tumor. Some grow quickly, others more slowly. Lower mouth tumors seem to often progress more slowly in my experience; upper mouth tend to get invasive and invade the sinus cavity, eyes, ear canal, etc which gets ugly quickly.


When they are big and its not likely to be easily removed, we go for the love them and spoil them rotten while they are here. I ask about medications we can try to slow it down. Not so much chemo drugs, but things like prednisone, metacam, etc.



I usually base when to euthanize on them on their quality of life. Look at her quality of life. If she is still active and doing things she enjoys, we are good. When their quality of life is suffering, they are in pain/discomfort, etc then its time.
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Old 11-13-2018, 08:08 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you so much. When I know a little more I will post again with an update. It is definitely the lower jaw for sure.

I just feel so heartbroken and I never know how to deal with the loss of a pet. She is such a sweetheart and has such a personality.

I'm anxious to see how she does tonight. Last night she did run and eat and drink and was quite active today and doesn't seem bothered by it. I am relieved to know I don't have to put her to sleep immediately if we don't or can't get the surgery done. Her quality of life is my utmost concern right now. And right now I do believe she is still happy and comfortable.
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Old 11-19-2018, 11:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Truffles has been eating fairly normally, sometimes slightly less. I've been offering her her normal crunchy food and then some soft (I just went the crunches so they're squishy) She seems to prefer the hard kibbles though. Exercise is still normal, and she has been really active when I have her out on my lap when I'm watching tv etc. She is kicking my arm non stop lol.

I am just waiting today on an estimate of cost for surgery. Thankfully it looks like it can be done! I just need to weigh the pros and cons... If it is a squamous cell tumor and is removed, how quickly can it regrow back? Does it mean it absolutely WILL grow back? What are the chances it is not a malignant tumor? How would you feel about surgery on your 5yr old hedgie?

Sorry, I just have so many questions and I want to do the right thing for her. I've attached a picture here too.
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Old 11-19-2018, 01:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yes Ive had surgery done on a 5-6 year old and a few 4 year olds before. There is always risk, but you have to know your hedgehog and determine if they are strong enough for surgery. The more complicated the surgery, the longer they are out, the harder it is on them. Ive had a couple that were slow to come out of anesthesia, but one of those was a 2 year old. So you really just dont know.

Is her tumor more localized to the skin/lip area and not involving her teeth and jaw? Its always hard to tell in images.

There really is no guarantee when it comes to tumors. They may come back and they may not. You really just dont know. For my 5 year old, she was a new rescue who came to me with a mouth growth and was pretty neglected. I promised her a better life and since the tumor seemed like it would be a fairly easy surgery, we had it removed. She did die a few months later from a different issue, but her mouth was beautiful and gave her no problems.

At 5, it can get really tough to make these decisions. They may develop another issue right after surgery and pass away, or may live for a while longer. Its something you have to decide if its worth the risk.
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