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Discussion Starter #1
So I've been away a while, life has been kind of ridiculous for the last I don't know how long, but I'm having a bit of a problem with Quillamina and I didn't know where else to turn. I always got good answers here, and I'm hoping someone can shed some light on this situation for me.

For the last couple of days, my Quillamina has been acting a bit strange. She's been chewing at her front paws and acting oddly, growing restless and trying to climb out of her blanket - and this evening when I was trying to have dinner, her pouch - which is something she has never done before. She has always been content to curl up in her blanket in my lap or in her pouch and sleep, and never tried to get out of either and run off. When picked up to be put back in her blanket, she struggles and tries to get away, rather than scratching around in said blanket and going back to sleep, which is normal. It should be noted that she only does this strange scrambling around five or six in the evening, not any earlier. The paw-chewing happens randomly.

A few slight changes have been made to her care recently, though I doubt they have anything to do with these strange new behaviours. I've cut back on her food because the vet tells me that she is fat and needs to lose weight, lest I end up with a diabetic hedgehog in addition to a diabetic cat. I have been giving her eighteen kibbles a night for the last four or five days, and she usually eats them all, although not always. (I gave her two extra tonight because she seemed very hungry, and I was worried that maybe I had cut her back by too much.) I have also had to take away her wheel again (this happens a lot) because she seems to have hurt one of her toes yet again, and she is going to bed one hour earlier than she used to because I now have a bearded dragon with whom I need to be able to spend some time. The only thing that taking the wheel seems to have done is made her more prone to 'redecorating' her cage overnight, and I don't think the new bedtime could bother her that much.

It should also be noted that I'm pretty sure she has developed arthritis, since her toes get swollen fairly often when she is allowed to run on her wheel for a few nights in a row, and since she is nearly four, she is definitely at the age to be suffering from it. I do have her on Metacam for pain and inflammation, and she can't be chewing her feet because her nails are too long, since I trimmed them just the other day and they're not that long. Aside from a couple of toes, they don't seem too swollen, and the swelling has gone down significantly in one particularly bad toe since I started her on the Metacam. They are also not red or inflamed-looking, and there is no discharge or any such thing leaking from the nail beds.

I'm at a loss to explain either the foot-chewing or the restlessness, so I'm hoping that someone here may know what's going on.
 

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First of all NEVER restrict food for a hedgehog they can easily develop fatty liver disease if they are being malnurished. If your hedgie is overweight add a reduced fat cat food to his/her diet and the weight loss will occur. This could be part of the reason she's so restless, she is starving.

Second, 5 or 6 pm is pretty early to be waking up a hedgie. They are nocturnal animals which means they sleep during the day and are awake at night. You're waking her up in the middle of her night time. Try waiting until about 9pm before waking her up.

The chewing on her feet is concerning and she can chew off her toes/feet if you aren't paying attention and she's that aggitated (this recently happened to someone on here and her hedgie ended up chewing off all her toes). Have you checked her feet carefully for any small cuts? Have you checked the rest of her body closely for any signs of injury or painful spots? Chewing is usually caused by pain or some irritant. Have you put anything on her feet? She may be chewing to get it off.

How are her bowls, urine, eating, and wheel use? Anything else abnormal?

If she is persistantly chewing at herself she needs to see a vet before she injures herself.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
She is eating a reduced fat cat food, that hasn't helped. She's been on it for years and is still fat. I'm also not really 'restricting' food, I'm cutting back on how much I put in her bowl every day. I tested for about a week before putting her on a diet by putting thirty kibbles into her bowl and seeing how many she ate, and she tended to eat as many as I'm giving her now; I'm just trying to keep her from overeating.

Quillamina has, for the three+ years I have had her, always gotten up at noon and stayed up until seven. She has never been bothered before, and spends all of her time out with me sleeping anyway. Nobody ever complained about it here before, and they knew about it. She works as a service animal, and adjusted her sleeping patterns by herself so that she could spend time with me when I need her.

I have checked her feet and there are no cuts, no bruises, and no external signs of damage. The instant I notice her chewing her feet - and since I'm hypersensitive to noise and exercise constant vigilance with my hedgehogs, I notice right away - I make her stop and check them to see if she has done any damage. She doesn't seem to have pain anywhere else, and I have put nothing on her feet that could cause her to be at them. There are also no loose threads or bits of fabric caught on them. As previously stated, she is on Metacam for pain and inflammation, but I'm starting to wonder if it's not helping the way it used to.

Her bathroom habits are the same as ever, she's eating fine, and as I already said, I took her wheel away because her feet had been swelling up after using it and I didn't want the problem to worsen. Everything else is exactly the same, aside from the two things I mentioned.

No offense, but I'm not that new to hedgehogs, and I'm certainly not new to this forum. I was here for a year and a half or so before life got too busy for me to log on frequently. People were well aware of Quillamina's odd sleeping patterns and nobody had any objections, especially since all she does when she's out with me anyway is sleep. I understand that you're trying to help, and I really do appreciate it, but I don't like being told 'You're getting your hedgie up too early' etcetera when it has never, ever been a problem before in the three years since I brought my hedgie home in the first place.
 

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No need to be snippy. If you're not new you know the general time for hedgies to be awake is night and there are always exceptions. If she's used to day hours great. I have one that's awake during the day and a grouch if woke up after 6pm.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm not being snippy, and I'm sorry you saw it that way. I'm very concerned about my girl and probably not handling it well; she's almost four, so she's getting up there, and every health problem looks worse to me than it probably is. She's had one very serious problem in the past, and now that she's getting older, I worry that every little thing is something more sinister than it appears to be.

I decided that you're probably right about not cutting back her food, though; I put more in her bowl and she seemed happy about it. She can still curl up pretty tightly, so maybe she's not as big as the vet thinks she is. She's always had a bit of a large frame anyway, so naturally she's going to carry more weight than a hedgehog whose body is smaller. Either way, it's not worth risking fatty liver disease, and although I didn't cut her food back by a tremendous amount, it's better to be safe than sorry.

I fully intend to watch her like a hawk to ensure that she doesn't damage her feet. If she persists, she's going straight to the vet, no questions asked. Maybe she needs a stronger dose of Metacam than she's getting, who knows. She does have these two toes, one on each foot, that seem to swell up more than the others; the first one I think may have been broken at some point before I got her, likely due to the god-awful wheel her last set of humans gave her, and the other one has just started swelling within the last few months. It's only within the last few days that she's started chewing, though.

I'll probably end up making an appointment with the vet for her on Monday, regardless; something tells me she isn't going to stop chewing, and even if she does, she may be doing it now to tip me off to something being up. Tomorrow is probably not enough notice, and I won't be able to go on Saturday at all, since our schedule is absolutely insane that day. (Vet's closed Sunday, and unfortunately, we found a couple of years back that our emergency vet is completely incompetent when it comes to hedgehogs; she's never gone back there because they have no clue what they're doing.)
 

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Often when animals are restless and chew at themselves it is a reaction to pain. I'd take her to the vet sooner rather than later. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Probably a good idea, Nancy. My father has to see a doctor about his eye today, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to get her there before they close, but I'm going to try. Her feet look worse today, they're pretty red, so it's probably a safe bet that she was at them overnight. She won't hold still long enough for me to check to see if they're swollen, but I'd imagine that they probably are. I'll try to get a look later when she's napping.

I'll be sure to keep you updated; you'll know what's happening as soon as I do.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Here's the update I promised.

I did manage to get Quillamina in to see the vet today, but they couldn't tell us anything conclusive. The vet confirmed that her feet are somewhat inflamed, although the redness has all but disappeared. I noticed today that she felt a bit warmer than usual, and she was a little dozy; it took her significantly less time to start to fall asleep, or at least have her eyelids drooping, than it usually does. I wouldn't say that she has crossed the line into lethargy, she's just a bit more tired than she normally is.

She tried to do a bit more foot-chewing today, but I quickly put a stop to that, and she seemed to get the message that it wasn't allowed, because she didn't try it again. She has lost a bit of weight since her last vet visit, I'm not entirely sure how much, but not enough that it would be a problem. She looks and feels exactly the same, weight-wise, so it can't have been a lot.

Unfortunately, their equipment is not wonderful for getting detailed information on bloodwork, so they didn't do any of that, but they are referring us to the specialists in Guelph, where they have more sophisticated equipment and people who know a lot more about hedgehogs than they do. (The vet I take her to is still knowledgeable about them, she just doesn't specialize in them and thinks it would be better if, for this, I took Quillamina to someone who does.) So she's going to get us an appointment for next week, and will call as soon as she has one booked.

For now, all I can really do is watch her to make sure she's not chewing too much, that she's getting enough to eat and drink, and that she doesn't get worse. She's still taking her Metacam, so hopefully that's helping with the pain.
 

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Hmm, going out on a stretch here but how clean are her feet? Has she had a bath lately? Some tub swimming could also help if you're still trying for weight loss. Do you keep a record of her weight gain/loss yourself?
 

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I wonder if you could keep her busy overnight when you aren't looking by putting a small amount of wet catfood in a small cat kong toy. It may keep her busy enough over the next little while and you can switch out different flavours or even use a small dab of peanut butter for something different.

Unfortunately, by the time you may feel or see a weight difference, it would be a significant change. Do you have a scale?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Silvercat: Her feet are quite clean, she never gets them filthy. I'm also not supposed to let her swim, she has this recurring bacterial thing that happens when her feet get wet too often. I can't remember the name of it, but it's nasty and makes her feet swollen and sore, so unfortunately, swimming is out of the question for her. I've always meant to keep a record of her weight, but I'm fairly scattered and can never remember to do it daily.

Immortalia: She actually seems to be leaving her feet alone now, thankfully. Hasn't been at them all day today, and didn't touch them yesterday, so I think the foot-chewing is no longer going to be an issue, although I still intend to watch her just in case she starts up again.

I do have a scale, it's a little kitchen one, but she refuses to stay on it. I've even tried sticking her in a tupperware container on her back so that she's less likely to get away, but that doesn't work too well since she struggles enough to knock it over and then scurries away from the scale as fast as her little legs will carry her. I can never get an accurate weight on her because of that, and as I told Silvercat, my memory is so bad that I have never managed to keep up with weighing her every day, and it wasn't for lack of trying.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Another update:

Quillamina saw the vet at the college in Guelph today, and the news is confusing and possibly not good. They took x-rays and blood, and the x-rays showed enlarged kidneys and an enlarged bladder. After pointing these out, I was told by the vet that when cancer is removed, there is always a chance of something being left behind, and as many of you may remember, Quillamina did have cancer two years ago, and it was removed when my own vet performed an emergency spay operation on her. He also said that these tumours may take years to grow. He did not say that she definitely has cancer, did not say anything conclusive because the results of the bloodwork will not be back until tomorrow, and a few enlarged organs aren't enough to go on by themselves. He will call with the results tomorrow, and Quillamina will probably have to go back for ultrasounds, and possibly some other tests.

In the meantime, all I can really do is keep her comfortable, make sure she's eating, and worry.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I hope so too, but I'm absolutely terrified. She's almost four, and from what I've gathered from here and other places where I have had the chance to interact with other hedgehog people, four is about the age when they usually start to decline. And since she's already had cancer once, there's always been the worry of recurrence.

I'm desperately hoping that it's only a UTI or something else that is easily fixed with antibiotics, but I'm not sure how likely that is, given her age and all.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
So the college in Guelph was supposed to call with the results of Quilly's bloods today. Didn't happen. I'm not sure whether I should be more anxious because this means something's wrong and they need to examine it further, or if they simply forgot. Either way, I'm really not very happy right now; Quillamina was drowsy all day today, again, not quite lethargic, but more tired than usual, and I'm not taking it as a good sign. I saw some evidence that she ate a few kibbles overnight, but not very many, and she wouldn't take any when I tried to offer her some from my hand throughout the day. She still ate the three waxworms I offered her with gusto, though, so obviously she hasn't gone off her treats. I also syringe-fed her some Hills AD, which she hated, but I managed to get her to swallow most of it this time.

Going to call the college tomorrow to ask about the tests. Will let everyone know what they say.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The results of Quillamina's bloodwork came back normal. She's going back on Tuesday morning for ultrasounds and a urine test, and meanwhile, I'm still going to be consumed with worry. I would have thought that normal bloods would have meant that it was something other than cancer, since the last time she had it, her white cell count was somewhat high, but according to my doctor mother, this is not always the case.

We were also told that while she was there, they gave her some Marshall's ferret food pellets, and she was quite happy to eat all of it. This has made me wonder if she has simply decided to become picky in her old age and no longer likes the taste of her own cat food. It also occurred to me this morning that she is missing a lot of teeth on one side of her upper jaw, and maybe the kibbles are too big or too hard for her to chew. Either way, we'll be getting her some of that ferret food for now, since we know she'll eat it. I know it isn't the best solution, but it's better than having her continue to refuse to eat at all. (That is, refusing to eat anything that isn't a bug. She still devours mealworms and waxworms as though they were candy.)

Because I have to drop her off relatively early, we are probably going to book a hotel and stay overnight on Monday.

Still hoping for the best, but not feeling particularly optimistic. Too terrified of what they're going to find.
 

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Hope she is okay.

Just a thought, but how old is your bag of food? Sometimes a bag will go bad without realizing it or you can accidentally get a bad bag from the store and they will refuse to eat it. Won't hurt anything to pick up a new bag to try with her to see if she will eat that.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I'm not entirely sure how old it is, but I think it may very well be the fact that she's missing a lot of teeth and therefore can't chew as well as she used to. She gobbled the ferret food when it was offered to her, and the pellets are much softer than her cat kibbles.

Loki, my boy, is also still eating the food and showing no adverse effects, so I don't think the food has gone off. I'm sure it's just Quilly having trouble with it. It was a good thought, though.
 
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