Vet said it’s either pneumonia, heart disease or the big ‘C’ - Hedgehog Central Hedgehog pet care & owner forum
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Old 09-22-2018, 01:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Aug 2018
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Default Vet said it’s either pneumonia, heart disease or the big ‘C’

Hi everyone!

This is my first time posting in the forums, but I’ve been an avid reader for almost two years.

Back story: In February 2017, I purchased my very first hedgehog, Herman. He has always been a spoiled hog, as he is an only child. He is housed in a glass tank, with an open top, with a ceramic heater overhead in one corner. He uses fleece liners, ceramic dishes and a nice big storm wheel. He is a picky eater and seems to only like one kind of hedgehog formulated kibble, 8 in 1 hedgehog select. He LOVES it when I soak it in water, so he gets a dry bowl and a wet bowl. He also gets clean, fresh water, twice a day. I regularly clip his claws and inspect him for ouchies. He gets foot baths when he has poop shoes, and oatmeal baths when his skin is dry.

At the beginning of Aug 2018, I noticed that Herman had stopped wheeling for an evening. I kept an eye on him, but everything else was fine. He was still eating/drinking normally, bathroom habits were healthy, still cute as ever. On the third evening of him not wheeling, I noticed him sneezing. Not a lot, but more than he usually does. I decided to keep an eye on him, and if he hadnt exercised by morning, I’d call his vet ASAP. Low and behold, morning comes and he hasn’t wheeled at all. He has taken a night or two off before, but usually never more than that. I call the vet and schedule him in for noon that same day.

The vet did all she could to get Herman to uncurl, but he was having none of it. So we had him put under anesthesia, and we did a complete blood panel. The early results showed that he was slightly anemic. She said his lungs and heart sounded healthy. The following day I was called with the test results. The vet said he weighed 536g, which was the heaviest he had ever been. I figured it was from not being active, and still loving his kibble. He was in fact anemic, and he also had high-normal range of WBC. So the bet prescribed an antibiotic for 10 days. After this time he was acting perfectly normal, he even started wheeling again and making a poopy mess. We returned to the vet with Herman 9 days later to have followup blood work done. This exam was done by a different vet that at the clinic. At this visit he had gained MORE weight and was 559g. She discovered that Herm had a heart murmur that we were previoisly unaware of, and wanted to have xrays done as well as blood work. The xrays showed that his left lung was a cloudy white. Not completely opaque white, but definitely not black either. She then decided to extend the antibiotics because she suspected pneumonia. His blood work still showed anemia, so they gave him a shot to help produce red blood cells. We received the blood results later that day, and it actually showed that the WBC had gone down. Yay, right? Wrong.

After another two weeks on the same antibiotic (24 days total), we take Herman back to the vet for a third time, to have more followup tests. He had taken another short wheel break in this time period, but quickly resumed. At his followup visit, he had blood work and xrays done again. His weight was basically the same as it had been two weeks prior, no weight loss or gain. The xrays showed that the cloudy left lung was actually WORSE and not better. His blood tests also showed that he was still anemic, and that his WBC had risen twice what it was when we came in the first time!! I’m panicing by this point. The doctor prescribed a different antibiotic for another two weeks, hoping that will help. In the meantime she also said she would look into having an echocardiogram done, as she felt that would be the next step. She said it could be either pneumonia, heart disease or cancer...

After being on the new antibiotic for a couple days, he quits wheeling again. After two nights of this behavior I decide to stay up and watch him. He is still eating and drinking normally this whole time, but I notice that all he does at night is sleep. He would get up and snack, but then go back to bed. I put my head next to his tank and his breathing sounded louder. Not exactly snoring, but like when you’re congested or raspy. I monitor him all lastnight and contact his vet this morning. They are unable to see him until next week! My poor baby!

I decide that it can’t wait that long (he doesnt look in pain, but he must feel awful and exhausted) so I take him to an emergency vet. Normally this clinic does echocardiograms on exotics, but just our luck, they are away on holidays. I gave the clinic all of Hermans previous blood results (I kept records) and discussed his entire history. He gained even more weight! Weighing in at 589g! They prescribed him a diuretic called Lasix, because we are all starting to suspect heart problems at this point. The extreme weight gain in two weeks could be contributed to fluid buildup. I was instructed to give him .58mg every 8 hours.

As soon as I get my little man home I give him his diuretic. I made sure he has LOTS of soggy wet food and fresh water. He is still drinking and eating on his own. But since his first dose (at 3:50pm today) all he has done in laid in his sleeping bag. Ive heard him get up and munch, but he promptly curls back up and goes to sleep.

Has anyone had experience with Lasix before?

I’m also still trying to find a radiologist that is able/willing to do an echocardiogram on a hedgehog. I live in Calgary, Alberta - If you have any recommendations, please let me know.
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Old 09-25-2018, 03:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm sorry you and Herman have to go through this. I have no personal experience with treating cardiovascular issues, but they are relatively common - and so is the prescription of Lasix. Cardiac enlargement and pulmonary oedema are usually seen in those cases, I know of several people who've went through congestive heart failure with their hogs. Unfortunately long-term prognosis is poor.

The next step would indeed be a echocardiogram. If it's a heart issue, a complete blood count and biochemical profile can be done to monitor the effects of treatment (if you decide to go with treatment).
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