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Help! my hedgehog was gagging/gasping!

12335 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  ZoodsnGngr
Help! My Hedgehog just passed away and we are not sure of the reason...

My Hedgie was almost 3 years old and I have owned him since he was a few months old. There have been no changes in his environment except that it has gotten colder but that is all. He was kept with extra bedding, a heat lamp, and handwarmers in socks under his cage. He also had a towel and a piece of fleece fabric that he would crawl under directly over the hand warmers to keep warm.

About 2 months ago, he stopped running in his wheel completely. We thought that maybe he was just bored...And then he became quite lethargic and he tried to hibernate. I took him to my room, kept him in a blanket and had a heating pad set on low until he came out of it and was poking his little nose out to see what was going on. He also had mites pretty bad but was treated by our vet with Revolution. A few days later, I gave him an oatmeal bath to help with his skin and he was doing so well. He was eating properly, drinking quite a bit, and was more active and back to his self.
But then the other night, he didn't eat or drink and my mom went to check on him and came and got me. He was laying on his side, his body 90% limp, and he was gasping/gagging with huge amounts of saliva coming from his mouth. Not just a little - enough that I stayed with him for a few hours simply to wipe his mouth and look after him. It would soak his bedding and I placed him on top of a towel in my lap and he would soak the part of the towel his head was at in minutes. Sometimes he would put his head back and gag/gasp really hard. We thought he was choking but he wasn't. I had checked the roof of his mouth and he had never had any problems with eating before. He passed away about 2 hours later. It was too late at night to get my vet...
I know hibernation could also be caused by a tumor. Could this be what was wrong with him? He was just fine the other day and spiraled the next...

His weight was just fine - he wasn't too fat or too skinny and had a nice soft tummy. His poop and pee were just fine as well. His cage was cleaned and spot-cleaned regularly.

He has never EVER had problems breathing until this just happened...The most I could say he had was a slightly wet nose. Like stated before, he was eating and drinking regularly after his hibernation ordeal.
He also got this sore on his...manhood and had one of his face and a couple on his back but I thought it was from him scratching from when he had mites and they were healing really well.

I am so confused and just want any ideas of what might have caused this...Age? Hibernation attempt? The mites? A tumor?? I know no one is a vet but he was my very first hedgehog and I did everything I could for him.
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I'm so sorry for your loss.

How long was it between receiving his mite treatment and his death?
You could ask your vet for an autopsy.

I really can't say anything.
So sorry to hear about your boy. :( Ditto Kam, if you still have his body and you haven't put it in the freezer, put it in the fridge and you can ask your vet to do a necropsy and determine his cause of death. Definitely helps for peace of mind.

The gasping/drooling is something a lot of animals do while they're dying. Morbid, heartbreaking, but common. Usually hibernating hogs will pass in their sleep, so I don't think that was the cause, though him being too cold may have made him susceptible to other things. A tumor is possible, especially internally since they aren't easy to catch early on. Sorry I can't be of more help, but your vet might. (hugs)
LizardGirl said:
The gasping/drooling is something a lot of animals do while they're dying. Morbid, heartbreaking, but common.
I'm sorry to be a littl OT but you don't know this just gave me peace of mind.

When Tangelo died (a Friday morning), the night before he was gasping, breathing heavily. I called the vet and got an appointment for Saturday. When I found him dead, I beat myself for not going to the vet hospital 1 hour away (it was 10 pm, I was really tired). Now I know he was probably dying when I saw him gasping and I couldn't have prevented his death. thanks.

ItsaHedgieThing, I'm really sorry for your lost. If you can, you can have a necropsy done to ease my mind (I wish I had the money, but with 2 hedgies passing away the same week, I spent all my momey on the vet already)
Thank you, guys, I really appreciate your advice and imput. I was going to get an autopsy/necropsy done today but I have a 9 hour shift at work and my mom is taking Hedgie to get cremated. I'm glad to know that the gasping was just because he was passing and not something I could have helped.

And he just had his mite treatment with Revolution MAYBE 2 weeks ago, if not less. It is just very upsetting because he was getting so much better until he tried to hibernate. But even after that and I pulled him out of it he was still eating and drinking just fine and back to his old self. It's just kind of like he got better and then escaleded with the snap of the fingers. We didn't use Ivermectine because 1) I have been a horse owner for 11 years now and I know that Ivermectine isn't any good and 2) I have read several bad things about it with hedgehogs and deaths.
You did the right thing by using Revolution. Maybe (and probably) the death has nothing to do with this.
I'm so sorry for your loss. Our sweet hedgie had the same thing happen. She passed this evening after we took her to be put down at an emergency vet. We are fairly certain she had wobbly hedgehog syndrome that spiraled very suddenly. She was a bit uncertain on her feet for about a month and had lost weight suddenly despite eating normal amounts. Out of the blue she was on her side, panting, gagging, cold (despite cage temps of 83 degrees), and she wasn't moving. The vet confirmed it was heart failure likely due to WHS as we suspected. We are thankful we noticed and took her in when we did to be sedated so she wasn't in any more pain, she was struggling.
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