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Hedgehog Hospice

2652 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  shetland
Three years ago, my husband and I bought two hedgies from a pet store. Unintentionally we ended up with a girl and a boy. We named them Puck and Pinch. Puck was fixed after we got him, but not soon enough. Not long after, Pinch gave birth to five babies. We discussed finding homes for the babies but in the end were too much in love with them. So somehow we ended up with seven hedgehogs.

It was only after we got the two hedgies that I began to really research them and discovered that pet store hedgies come from hedgie farms and are born in appalling conditions and subject to tons of health issues. One of our babies, Patch, has been sick on and off since he was a year old but the rest were healthy and sweet. I hoped we'd be lucky.

A month ago we lost our first of the seven. My darling Puddlefoot. He was two-and-a-half years old. Somehow, despite the fact that we use vellux blankets as bedding and only recycled paper pellets as litter, Puddlefoot got a blockage in his penis and it ruptured. By the time the damage was visible, it was too late. He died of sepsis the next day. The vet said he only held on as long as he did to say goodbye to us. He died in her hands before she could euthanize him. My sweet little boy held out as long as he could so I could have extra cuddle time. I was devastated.

Now, a month later, my little Puck is sick. He stopped eating and drinking and had to be given IV fluids. His poops are forrest green and mushy and mucousy. He's so thin the vet was able to check him thoroughly for any suspicious masses or tumors - nothing. Blood-work shows his white blood cell count is completely normal, so he's not running an infection. Just in case he is taking .2 cc of Baytril twice a day. I am feeding him Science Diet AD by syringe and giving him water the same way several times a day. I clean the constant green poop slime off his tush every time I pick him up. His poor tail and tush are bloody and raw from the persistent green slime. Today I started putting plain Neosporin on his tush to try to get the hedgie diaper rash under control. And today I am also starting to give him a bit of plain yogurt to try to help his poops and switching from water to clear pedialyte.

Our vet says we're basically in hedgehog hospice mode at this point. She suspects his kidneys have failed and that's what is causing all his issues. She can't tell me how long he'll live. So I am going on faith, trying to keep him alive as long as I can, as long as he still has the will to fight. He's normally a cantankerous little fellow, loving and sweet but grumpy. Now he is calm in my hands, still lively and using his wheel a bit, but more loving than he used to be. I think he knows the end is near as well. His symptoms are the dark green poops, lack of appetite or thirst, weight loss, no parasites in his poop and normal blood cell count.

I guess I'm wondering if anyone has gone through something similar with their hedgies and also if there's anything else I can do for Puck besides loving on him and what we're already doing. I am praying for a miracle but preparing myself for losing him. Losing two so close together just seems so cruel and capricious. I was hoping they'd make it to 5 or even 7 - certainly never thought we'd start losing our herd at only 3. Thanks for any good thoughts, prayers, and advice.

Hedgie mum to Puck, Pinch, Pint, Patch, Pipsqueak, Peaseblossom and Puddlefoot
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I have no idea how hard this must be for you, but if his kidneys have failed it may be time to help him cross the rainbow bridge. It sounds as though his quality of life is all but gone and you have to ask if you are keeping him hanging on because you think he may get better, or is it because you can't let go? I am by no means trying to be harsh or mean, just trying to help you realize that he may simply be asking you to help him cross.
Thanks for the reply. I asked the vet if Puck should be put down. She said that he'll let me know when it's time and that he's still fighting, that he still has a lot of life in him. She's hoping just as much as I am that Puck proves her wrong and it isn't his kidney's or other organs, that he'll somehow get better.

I knew with Puddlefoot that it was time. He was listless and in obvious pain and there was absolutely no hope. Puck really is still fighting. Maybe part of it is that I'm not ready to let go, but I hope and pray I will know when it's time to give up and let him have a peaceful death. I can't say how he'll be tomorrow or even in a few hours, but right now, at this moment, I don't think he's ready to go.

The flip side of this is that Puck breaks all the hedgie rules. He's not solitary. He is very firmly bonded to Pinch, our original female hedgie and his cage mate. He gets frantic if he's away from her. I think he's fighting so hard and hanging in there because he doesn't want to leave her. He loves her so much. If there's any way he can beat this, he will. He's always been my fierce, stubborn little boy. He's just too active right now to give up on.

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Im so sorry, but i can't offer any advice as am pretty new to hedgies.

Just wanted to send love and am really hoping Puck pulls through. I can't imagine what your going through but do know what its like to lose a pet. I was crying reading your post.

Lots of hugs and love. Keep us posted on Puck.

I'm sorry you are going through this. It is heartbreaking to watch them and try and help when they are like this and we build such a bond with them during this time.

I suggest Vaseline for his little bum. It works great for preventing diaper rash and it keeps the poop from sticking to him. Many people do not like it because it is a petroleum based product but I have yet to find anything better for situations such as this. Use a very tiny amount of polysporin then rub on Vaseline. Make sure you use old liners though as it stains horribly.

I don't know how often you are syringing him but when they don't want to eat much, feeding frequently usually works better. You can also leave food in bed with him as often they will eat if they don't have to get up. You can also add carnivore care to his A/D.

The baytril is without a doubt adding to his intestinal issues. It is hard on the tummy and you can give him a probiotic in between doses of baytril. Perhaps when the baytril is done, he might show more improvement.

I know how difficult it is to them close together. We have lost 8 in the past 2 months. All were elderly except one but 3 times, two were making the final trip at the same time. :cry:

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Thank you so much for the suggestions Nancy. I am so sorry that you've been losing so many hedgies as well. It's hard to imagine how something so small can become such a huge part of our hearts and lives, and yet somehow they do. I could not have loved Puck more. I've spent a lot of time the past few days just holding him, knowing that we were running out of time.

Puck died just after 11am this morning. I was holding him in my hands as the vet put him to sleep for the last time. Last night Puck started bleeding from his nails on each foot and the blood refused to clot. It was clear that he was deteriorating fast and in pain. The vet says his liver must have failed as well, based on the lack of clotting.

I buried Puck beneath the willow tree in my back yard beside his son. Words can't express how much I miss him.


I'm so sorry for your loss. Puck knew you did absolutely everything in your power to make him comfortable.
I am so sorry he didn't make it. Poor little guy. You did the best you could and gave him a great life. I hope his beloved Pinch is doesn't miss him too much.

I cried when I read your post but it is people like you and Nancy, and HedgieMate and Melissa (Mommy to Aero) that keep me believing in the goodness of people. I can only say how lucky your hedgies are to have you and you them. Without you they might not have the love and care that they recieve every day of the year. Rest well as I am sure they know that they were loved and still are loved.
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