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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just noticed what look's like an infected toe/toenail on Mali's back foot today when I went to cut her nails. I haven't checked her feet in a week or so, so not sure how long it's been. She isn't having any trouble running, though, and doesn't seem to favor it at all.

I gave her a long foot bath to clean it and get a better look at it--it's noticeably swollen and the underside is raw looking. I put a bit of hydrogen peroxide on it but no foaming. I can't tell if it's hurting her or not: she didn't like me messing with it, but then again, none of my hogs particularly like their feet touched.

Has anyone seen this before? Does it look bad enough to warrant a vet visit, or wait and see?

Thanks in advance!

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I'd email the picture to your vet, if that's an option, & see what they say. If they're unable or unwilling to accept that, then I'd at least make an appointment. Most people can only get a vet appointment a couple days out from when they make it, so if you do that, then you have it if her nail is still looking the same (or worse) by the time the appointment comes around. If it improves by that day, you can cancel.

Side note, but I would find something else to use for disinfecting wounds besides hydrogen peroxide. True, it destroys germs & such...it also damages tissue because it's so strong. If you can get Betadine (povidone-iodine is the generic term) or chlorhexidine, those are both disinfectants that are much safer to use on wounds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you, Kelsey. We were also leaning towards making an appointment, though hopefully we can just come right in today.

Good advice about the betadine too. I used HP this time because a) I wanted to see if there was a reaction and b) I hadn't had a chance to take pictures yet and didn't want the betadine discoloring everything. But overall I think you're right--HP is probably too strong. If I ever had to apply something repeatedly I wouldn't use it.

I still have no idea what the vet might do with the toe, or what the issue might be. I was hoping someone else had seen this before and could assure us it was minor. Guess we'll have to wait and see...
 

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Please let us know what you find out! I'd be interested to hear what the vet has to say about it, and what the treatment plan is. I haven't seen something like that before, but I don't know if one of the other admins have (they all have MUCH more hedgie experience!). Hopefully it's not too big of a concern and won't take much to clear up. :) And that's a pretty good point, Betadine is good at staining everything!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So we took Mali to the vet. She says it's not the nail but the toe itself. It's very swollen and she believes it is either broken or dislocated.

We're not sure how this could have happened (yes, we use a cake-top wheel), but I actually think the toe has been somewhat non-functional for a while now. I've noticed on past occasions that it was turned at a little bit of a weird angle, but I wasn't sure there was anything wrong and wouldn't have known what to do anyway. Now that it is red and swollen though, it appears she maybe aggravated it or made it worse in some way.

The vet prescribed anti-inflammatory/anti-pain medicine to see if we can get the swelling to go down. We could have taken a liquid form home and tried to get her to take it mixed in with food/treats, but I was afraid she'd anoint it rather than swallowing it fully. So she gave her a shot which went well with no fuss.

The hope is that the swelling goes down and the bone/joint/tendons etc. are able to rejoin somewhat such that it's not a threat to turn into more than this. The worst case scenario is that the nerves (+something else maybe? sorry, i'm translating from Thai and I maybe didn't catch everything) would die and there would be threat of infection and spreading. The best case scenario of the worst case scenario is that just this toe would die (and fall off cleanly) and the foot would heal around it. Otherwise I assume if there was threat of spreading then some degree of amputation would be in order.

At any rate, the plan is to see if the swelling goes down. If it doesn't, we might try another shot of anti-inflammatory, or otherwise get an X-ray to see how bad the break is. But apparently X-raying hedgehogs is not the easiest thing, so we're waiting to see if it's necessary first.

Sorry this is such a long post. I'm mostly just writing down the info before I forget it in case it might be helpful to someone in the future :)
 

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Thank you for letting us know! Broken bones are no good, but I'm glad you got her in to find out what's going on. Hopefully the swelling will go down soon so you don't have to worry about amputation or anything like that. Sounds like you guys have a good plan set in place. I'll keep my fingers crossed!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
TL;DR:
What should have been an uneventful trip to vet turned into Mali going into shock twice and, according to the vet, almost losing her life. I have a couple guesses on what might have caused it.

Long version:
So. I wasn't quite ready to write about this before as I was kind of traumatized from what happened. Five days later, though, Mali seems to be ok (though the toe is only marginally improved if at all) so I feel like I should recount what happened.

Last Friday was the third day in a row that we took her in to get an anti-imflammatory shot. The first day they gave it to her in the right hip and she showed no reaction at all. It looked like the swelling/redness might have gone down a little, so the vet suggested we get another shot. The next day we went in again, and when she got a shot in the left hip this time, she flinched and then spun around and around in place (i assume because it hurt). The vet said we should get one more shot so, as I said, she went in again on Friday for the third consecutive day.

This time when I took her into the office she just tried to hide in the cloth I was holding her in, which was noticeably different behavior from the first day. Mali is about as tame and good-natured as I've ever seen in a hedgehog, but it seemed clear to me that she was probably associating the smells of the vet's office with the painful shot she received the day before. Nevertheless, she went and the vet gave her another shot in the right hip again. She really flinched hard this time.

Here is where things got bad, and I'm not totally sure about what caused what. The vet asked to take a look at her foot again, and she bent it back and forth kind of roughly while Mali struggled. "Doesn't that hurt her?" I asked, but she said it was necessary for her to understand the situation. After this I put Mali back on the table and she started acting very strange.

She began backing up in circles while sort of splay-legged. This concerned the vet and we moved her to the floor. Soon Mali started tensing up everywhere and her body was all contorted. The vet said she was going into shock and called for her assistants to bring the oxygen tank. By the look on her face it was clear that she was completely at a loss as to why Mali should be going into shock. She said she gave her the right medicine and the right amount (she checked afterwards and confirmed it) and that she shouldn't be having a reaction to it. She checked for facial swelling (signs of allergy) but there wasn't any. Meanwhile Mali was horribly tensed up. She looked unnaturally hunchbacked (even for a hedgehog) and when I tried to lift her up I realized she'd lost all use of her legs. They were twisted back and rigid and I feared she was paralyzed.

We put the oxygen tube near her mouth and sometimes it seemed like she was breathing it in; at other times she bit the tube (she never bites). The vet tried to flex her legs back and forth against the rigidity. Then she bit the vet. We talked about what could be happening but she just didn't know. She was in shock and rigid and looked stunned. This lasted for a minute or two.

And then she began to scream. Anyone who has ever heard that sound knows how terrifying and horrible it is to hear. I'd only heard it once before when Mali got her nail caught on a bit of her cage about a year ago. This time she screamed like that for probably ten seconds. It felt like minutes. She screamed while her back end was all hunched and rigid and the vet looked scared and sad. She said she was going into shock again. She told me afterwards that at this point she thought Mali was going to die.

She didn't though. When she stopped screaming I picked her up and held her and then the vet said to just put her in the little box with a towel and let her calm down. She was not calm at all though, and she kept wheeling around. When I picked her up out of there again we noticed blood on her bad foot--it appeared she had bitten it at some point. I just wanted to get Mali out of there, because even for a normally outgoing hedgehog, everything about that place must have been irritating her senses. The bright lights, the smells...there was even a cat in the room next door screaming as it got its nails cut. I told the vet, Forget it, I would just take her home, but now she was concerned that Mali would continue biting at her foot. We briefly tried to get at her foot to bandage it, but she balled up as tight as I have ever seen her ball up. She even tried (softly) biting me a few times. The vet said nevermind, we can't mess with her anymore, and then she had the assistant bring some mealworms. Mali gobbled them all up like nothing had happened.

When I took her out to the car and put her in her little travel bag she immediately calmed down. I went back inside and paid and then started driving home, half expecting her to have a heart attack or something before I could get there. But by the time we got home she was acting completely normal. I gave her a few bits of cheese which she loves and then put her in her house. It was about noon at this point. She stayed in her house all afternoon, but every time I checked on her she was wide awake. I took her out to check on her foot once, but she hadn't bitten it again. Later on I let her walk around the room and she went to sleep under our dresser for a long time. Finally she was sleeping.

It's now been five days and she acts totally normal in every way. Eating, drinking, sleeping, running around--everything is normal. Her toe looks just about as bad as before (a bit less red, maybe slightly less swollen), but after the experience at the vet's office when it seemed like we might lose her, the toe doesn't feel like such a big deal anymore. I've been giving her some of that same anti-inflammatory medicine in liquid form mixed in with a treat in the morning, and though the vet said to stop her from running, I haven't had the heart to. I took away the wheel for a night, but I've been letting her out to run around since then, and i put the wheel back in her cage (this is also complicated by the fact that she lives in a big cage with her daughter, and taking away the wheel means taking it away from both of them. i did try moving Mali to a separate cage that first night, but she kept trying to climb out and wasn't calm until i put her back in with Ruby.).

So obviously this post is entirely too long, but I just wanted to get this off my chest because I've felt terrible ever since it happened. As to what happened? I don't really know, but I have two hypotheses:

1) The vet accidentally hit Mali's spine when she gave her the shot. She said afterwards that she doesn't think she did, but it was kind of close to that area anyway, and Mali flinched violently when getting the shot.

2) The shock etc. was caused by the pain of having her foot manipulated combined with all the stress of her surroundings. The worse things got for her the more strange people crowded around her and touched her, and the more stressed she got. I don't know if this is possible or not, but basically I'm wondering if she didn't go into shock out of stress and fear.

Anyway, if anyone has any ideas on what might have caused that reaction, I'd be more than happy to hear them. Otherwise I'm just so grateful to see her face everyday, and that she appears as happy and good-natured as ever. For the first 72 hrs after this experience, I kept expecting to find she had died, but she really seems fine, as if nothing happened at all. I only wish I could forget what happened as well, but some of those memories are hard to unsee.
 

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I'm so sorry about this experience! :( It sounds completely terrifying. I'm glad that she's calmed back down and seems back to normal since it happened.

I can't say anything for sure, with little hedgie medical experience, but personally I'm not sure your first hypothesis is too far out. I'm surprised that the vet gave her the shot in the same spot every time too...I'm sure it would be sore after just one shot, it seems like a much better idea to do it in a different spot, regardless of the foot the toe is on.

Again, I'm so sorry you guys went through this. I hope Mali continues to feel better and you too!!
 

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To me it sounds like the shot was painful and so was the manipulating of the foot. Both of these combined stressed her out. The extreme stress may have caused all the behaviours you saw. The screaming could just be her having had enough of being there and everything happening to her. The fact that she calmed down when you picked her up and that she ate the meal worms shows she wasn't in shock. An animal in shock is collapsed and doesn't respond. I think she was just really upset and in pain and she was letting you know that. I'm glad she's doing good now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm surprised that the vet gave her the shot in the same spot every time too...I'm sure it would be sore after just one shot, it seems like a much better idea to do it in a different spot, regardless of the foot the toe is on.
She actually alternated the shots: right hip, left hip, right hip, but there was noticeable increase in reaction to being given a shot each time.

There's so little experience with/knowledge of hedgehog care out here. It's kind of scary and of course makes me worry about future necessary visits to the vet. They're definitely trying their best to help, but it's clear that they aren't nearly as familiar with hedgehogs as one would hope they would be. What Nikki says confirms this too, and I'm inclined to automatically give more weight to her opinion than that of the veterinarian...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
To me it sounds like the shot was painful and so was the manipulating of the foot. Both of these combined stressed her out. The extreme stress may have caused all the behaviours you saw. The screaming could just be her having had enough of being there and everything happening to her. The fact that she calmed down when you picked her up and that she ate the meal worms shows she wasn't in shock. An animal in shock is collapsed and doesn't respond. I think she was just really upset and in pain and she was letting you know that. I'm glad she's doing good now.
Thanks for the feedback, Nikki. As I said in the other response, I'm more likely to trust your opinion over that of the vet. I don't really know anything about shock, but it sounds like you do, and maybe she wasn't technically in shock after all. The symptom of her back legs being (temporarily) paralyzed though (they were twisted and hanging rigidly behind her, almost like a bird's legs)--it's hard for me to attribute this merely to stress and fear. Then again, I have no idea. She was very, very upset, so maybe it is possible.

We still don't know what to do about the toe. It doesn't seem to be getting any better or any worse. It's at least 2 times the size of the corresponding toe on her other back foot. For obvious reasons I'm hesitant to take her back into the vet (next on the vet's plan, if the medicine hadn't improved it, was to take an X-ray, which is supposed to be very stressful for them), but I worry about her too, even if she's not showing any discomfort. If there's one thing I've learned from reading this forum it's that hedgehogs are very good at hiding symptoms/injuries, so I'm not ready to assume I should just let it be and let her live with it :cry:
 

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I am both an Animal Health Technician (Vet tech) and an Emergency Medical Technician (work on an ambulance currently) I have seen people that are severely stressed an in a lot of pain seem almost paralysed by it. I have also seen animals that are in a lot of pain behave the same way. She could have been in muscle spasms from the pain from her shot. No matter what caused it I'm just glad she's doing good. I wonder if soaking her foot in water with epsom salts a couple of times a day would help. I know it can help draw out infection and swelling. It wouldn't hurt her, you can just put some warm water in the sink and add some epsom salt and stir to dissolve. Let her walk around in it for 5-10 minutes a couple of times a day
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wow, I was inclined to believe you even before I knew your credentials! I'm happy to hear of your experiences, too, as it would make me feel better to think that she was never formally 'in shock'.

I will definitely try the epsom salts. At this point I'm happy for any suggestions, and the epsom salts is so non-invasive and obviously risk free that it's a no-brainer to try it. At worst it's a foot bath :)

Thanks again, Nikki!

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