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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

I would like information anyone is willing to share about liver problems they have encountered with hedgehogs. Here is what I would like to know:

-Symptoms your hedgehog displayed.

-What was the diet? Brand names + formula. Example: "Insert Name- Indoor", "Insert Name- Low Calorie".

-Approximately how long the hedgehog was on the food prior to developing the liver issue. If given a mix, which food/foods were the main part of the diet.

-Treats/extras fed.

-Weight of the hedgehog and if the hedgehog was considered overweight for his/her size.

-Age of the hedgehog at the time of developing the liver issues.

-Activity level of the hedgehog?

-Were there any events leading up to the liver issue as in hibernation attempts, not eating or not eating as much, any other illness or stressful event?

-Tests performed and the outcome.

-Medications or Herbal remedies administered.

-Vet advice given.

-Anything else you consider relevant.

Thank you!
 

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-Symptoms your hedgehog displayed.

*Sudden lack of energy. Extremely lethargic.
*Slight loss of appetite.
*Stopped all wheeling.
*Stopped "Whiffling".
*Skinny Poos
*Dark Tar-like poo.
*Shortness of breath

-What was the diet? Brand names + formula. Example: "Insert Name- Indoor", "Insert Name- Low Calorie".
*Wellness Weight Control; Royal Canin 27 ; Authority Heathly Weight

-Approximately how long the hedgehog was on the food prior to developing the liver issue. If given a mix, which food/foods were the main part of the diet.

For 6 months. Prior feed was Purina, Meow Mix... and some other junk.

-Treats/extras fed.
Mealworms. 1 a day.

-Weight of the hedgehog and if the hedgehog was considered overweight for his/her size.

She was 679 grams when we got her. Got up to 710 grams at her highest. At the time she passed she was at 656 grams.

-Age of the hedgehog at the time of developing the liver issues.

Diagnosed at age 2.1 years

-Activity level of the hedgehog?

Activity was great up until the last month. She stopped wheeling completely.

-Were there any events leading up to the liver issue as in hibernation attempts, not eating or not eating as much, any other illness or stressful event?

None. Never attempted hibernation, no change in food, environment, temperature.. etc.

-Tests performed and the outcome.
X-ray, Fecal smear. Showed she had an enlarged liver.. Fecal color/contents determined liver problems.

-Medications or Herbal remedies administered.
Thyroid medication 2 times daily for a 1.5 weeks
Clinicare (Ensure) liquid food for caloric intake 3 to 4 times a day.
Hill's Science Diet l/d formula syringed 4 times daily.

-Vet advice given.

Let her relax as much as possible. Syringe food numerous times a day. Slow weight loss implementation.

-Anything else you consider relevant.
She had her good days and her bad. Breathing became worse accompanied by extreme lethargy to the point of fighting to stand up and get water. That was the point where the decision was clear. The damage had been done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you Stephanie for responding. I know it's hard for you right now & I appreciate you coming forward with your story. Herisson (((HUGS))) you!

-Symptoms your hedgehog displayed.
Tired, quill loss, no wheeling, not wanting to be held, strange breathing sounds while sleeping.

-What was the diet? Brand names + formula. Example: "Insert Name- Indoor", "Insert Name- Low Calorie".
Wellness- Indoor, NB-Reduced Calorie, RC- Indoor 27.

-Approximately how long the hedgehog was on the food prior to developing the liver issue. If given a mix, which food/foods were the main part of the diet.
Wellness 1/2, NB 1/4, RC 1/4. Wellness & NB for about 1 year. RC since beginning of February.

-Treats/extras fed.
Canned crickets, mealworms. Alternate nights.

-Weight of the hedgehog and if the hedgehog was considered overweight for his/her size.
630 grams. He is a good weight now, but was not at 680 when I removed Wellness. He was too heavy.

-Age of the hedgehog at the time of developing the liver issues.
1.5 years.

-Activity level of the hedgehog?
Low at time of diagnosis.

-Were there any events leading up to the liver issue as in hibernation attempts, not eating or not eating as much, any other illness or stressful event?
UTI treated with Clavomox. Revolution due to new additions.

-Tests performed and the outcome.
Lost quills checked under microscope for bacteria/fungus, in house fecal for parasites, blood panel & fecal sent to lab, x-ray.

*Results: Elevated liver enzyme, calcium and white blood cells. Anyone who can "read doctor", I will send you the lab results if you would like to see them.

-Medications or Herbal remedies administered.
Baytril, Milk Thistle Lactulose.

-Vet advice given.
Give Milk Thistle Lactulose nightly.
***Remove RC 27 due to high calcium. This is Herisson specific, his calcium was too high.

-Anything else you consider relevant.
I removed Wellness- Indoor three months ago & he lost some needed weight. Quillbert seems fine and is on the same diet. Wellness was removed shortly after Quillberts arrival and RC 27 was added.
 

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-Symptoms your hedgehog displayed.
Vomiting. Would not drink water. Loss of appetite. Stopped running on wheel.

-What was the diet? Brand names + formula. Example: "Insert Name- Indoor", "Insert Name- Low Calorie".
RoyalCanin Indoor Light + Pretty Pets (previous owner)
I took the Pretty Pets out after I got Bacon and read on this forum that it was crap.

-Approximately how long the hedgehog was on the food prior to developing the liver issue. If given a mix, which food/foods were the main part of the diet.
Bacon was given RoyalCanin Indoor Light + Pretty Pets by the previous owner for about a year (They said he was one year old but who knows.. The vet said he seemed older.)
For the 4months I had him I only gave him RoyalCanin Indoor Light.

-Treats/extras fed.
Hard-boiled eggs (he would eat only the yolk) and occasionally fruit (watermelon, melon, pear, apple) and baked unseasoned turkey.

-Weight of the hedgehog and if the hedgehog was considered overweight for his/her size.
Bacon was not overweight at all. He was very small in size (compared to Pineapple who was bigger than him at 8weeks old) and weighed 220 grams when he was healthy.
After he got sick he got very dehydrated and was weighed in at 180 grams at the vet. The vet said he did not seem malnourished though.

-Age of the hedgehog at the time of developing the liver issues.
Aprroximately 1.5 years but not sure since I was not the first owner.

-Activity level of the hedgehog?
Very high until the sudden crash. He was a super runner. After the got sick he barely had the strength to walk around but he still tried.

-Were there any events leading up to the liver issue as in hibernation attempts, not eating or not eating as much, any other illness or stressful event?
He was perfectly fine until I added Aspen pellets to his litter and he chewed on them. After 2 days he threw up (no blood) and stopped drinking and ate very little. We were worried that the aspen may have caused blockage but after running tests the vet ruled out blockage and said he did not think the Aspen had anything to do with it.

-Tests performed and the outcome.
X-ray showed gas in the intestines indicating blockage. Lead to surgery in which the surgeon went through Bacon's entire GI tract and found no blockage but found a very inflamed liver and kidneys.

-Medications or Herbal remedies administered.
Discussed steroids and antibiotic treatments but sadly Bacon passed away soon after the surgery..

-Vet advice given.
None since Bacon passed away and no advice was necessary after that. He did recommend in the beginning to feed a more insect-based diet.

-Anything else you consider relevant.
The only thing I can think of is that Bacon never drank much water. I didn't know at that time since he was my first hedgie, but after I got Pineapple I was amazed at the amount of water she drank. Bacon barely drank at all compared to her, and he never peed much. I don't know why he didn't drink, I always gave him fresh filtered water in his bottle and in a bowl, but I have learned that dehydration can lead to liver and kidney failure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Kurai18, I'm sorry to hear Bacon didn't survive. Thank you for taking the time to answer the many questions so thoroughly. Do you mind if share I the information with HWS? I have the same post on the HWS list and I'm going to see if anyone can find common links to why this is happening to our hogs.

*Did Bacon or Peqoup have any quill loss?

 

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I'll post about my Pixie but she developed FLD while nursing babies which does happen sometimes.

-Symptoms your hedgehog displayed.

She quit eating, green urine, slimey poop, green frothy vomit. She also drank frequently. She got to the point where I could not even syringe feed her. She would not swallow. She was also lethargic but was nursing babies so it isn't like she was wheeling or running around anyways.

-What was the diet? Brand names + formula. Example:

Chicken Soup for the cat lovers soul lite, Solid Gold Katz'n'floken, Royal Canin baby cat (because she was nursing)

-Approximately how long the hedgehog was on the food prior to developing the liver issue. If given a mix, which food/foods were the main part of the diet.

Chicken soup and Solid gold she was on her whole life. Baby Cat as a small part of her diet for 2-3 weeks. She was also given Esbilac puppy formula after the baby arrived to help with milk production. It was the only thing she would eat on her own for a few days prior to her refusing to eat anything at all.

-Treats/extras fed.

Lots of mealies.

-Weight of the hedgehog and if the hedgehog was considered overweight for his/her size.

Pixie was always a big girl but not obese.

-Age of the hedgehog at the time of developing the liver issues.

8 months

-Activity level of the hedgehog?

Until the baby was born she was very active then became a normal doting mother.

-Were there any events leading up to the liver issue as in hibernation attempts, not eating or not eating as much, any other illness or stressful event?

Pregnancy, birth, and she took on a foster from another mom. We also felt she had a uterine infection or some uterine issue going on.

-Tests performed and the outcome.

Xrays, spay and a feeding tube inserted to try and bring her liver back. During surgery her liver was white. She ended up passing.

FLD was possibly the result of her quitting eating from the uterine issue.
 

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SYMPTOMS:
In our Geoffrey's case, a gradual and steady decline in kibble consumption 4 months prior to his passing was the first sign. Then scratching started, followed by mild but continuous quill loss, occasional vomit, visible fatigue, yellowish skin, bruising, loss of appetite, green urine, and finally immobility.

DIET:
Geoffrey was a picky eater and never made a success transition from what his breeder had fed him to high-quality low-fat dry cat food. His staple food was always Techni-Cal Precision Adult Formula (approx. 95% of his meals), but he also ate Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Adult Formula (3%), Wysong Vitality (1%), and occasionally tried various other kibble including Wellness Complete Health Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal & Rice Recipe, Fromm Chicken A La Veg or Fromm Duck A La Veg, Newman's Own Organics Adult Cat Formula, Solid Gold Katz-n-Flocken, Eagle Pack Adult Cat Formula, etc. (1%).

TIME FRAME WHEN THE HEDGEHOG WAS ON THE FOOD:
All his life - from his estimated date of birth (June 6, 2005) till his passing (May 7, 2009).

TREATS:
Live mealworms in all forms (larvae, pupae, and beetles). He LOVED melted ice cream from time to time. G was offered but never ate any fresh fruit, cooked vegetable, canned cat food, baby food, scrambled eggs, steamed salmon, cooked chicken or turkey breast, shrimp, canned or freeze-dried insects, yogurt-covered insects, frozen pinky mice, etc.

WEIGHT:
G weighed about 300 grams all his adult life. He was an avid wheeler and never was overweight. He lost approx. 30 grams during the last few weeks in his life, but his weight was pretty consistent until then.

AGE WHEN THE SYMPTOMS STARTED:
We really don't know when his liver problem started, but he was 3-1/2 years old when we first noticed his kibble consumption receded.

ACTIVITY LEVEL:
G was an excellent wheeler and climber. His will to wheel didn't fade until about 3 weeks before his passing. He wheeled 2 to 4 miles every single night until then, even though he wheeled further in his younger age. During the final 3 weeks, he started to wheel less than 1 mile each night and the distance became shorter each night, until he completely stopped wheeling 9 days before he passed away.

ANY EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE LIVER ISSUE:
No. No hibernation attempt or major sickness/injury whatsoever.

TESTS PERFORMED & OUTCOMES:
G was taken to the vet for general examination after we observed a decline in his kibble consumption for 3 weeks and when G started to scratch himself (his quill loss didn't start another 3 or 4 weeks). Both a fecal test for worms and parasite as well as a skin scrape test for mites and fungal infection were conducted. The results were both negative.

MEDS & HERBAL REMEDIES:
We decided to go ahead and apply Revolution without waiting for the test results. The vet probed G's belly thoroughly and found nothing amiss at this point. We discussed to have X-rays and blood work done if G's appetite continued to diminish.

VET ADVICE:
To keep a close eye on him and make sure he would put enough food to ward off Fatty Liver Disease (FLD). G's appetite bounced back somewhat after the vet visit even though he continued to scratch and started to lose one or two quills a day. We treated him with Revolution twice, 4 weeks apart, but his scratching intensified. Vomiting started. The second vet app was arranged for X-rays and blood work. However, the day we took him in, G looked fatigued and weak, so we, together with the vet, opted not to anesthetize him. He was sent home with a bag of Carnivore Care and we were told to "aggressively put more food into" G. Carnivore Care was to boost his calorie count and provide better nutrients for his recovery. At this point, the vet said the biggest fear was G was developing FLD. G was still eating some kibble and mealworm pupae on his own, so we were hopeful. Several days later G discharged green urine. I phoned the vet and I was told to syringe-feed Carnivore Care to him every 4 hours around the clock and try to make him as comfortable as possible. The vet said G was in his palliative care stage, I should cherish every moment I had left with G, and bring him in if he was in pain. Several days later G passed peacefully in his own hedgie bag at home while I worked right next to his cage.

The necropsy found a large tumour in G's spleen and his liver was enlarged and quite friable. The vet felt the direct cause of his death was the liver failure caused by FLD, but it was quite possible that there was originally a tumour in the liver as well. Three months earlier the vet probed G's underbelly and found no enlargement or lump in his spleen or liver, so the vet believed the tumours were very small and undetectable, perhaps even by X-rays at the time - G being a small hedgie wouldn't have been of much help either.

ANYTHING ELSE RELEVANT:
At the time I did not know many liver patients experience intense itchiness. I customarily put G on my chest and gave him a body massage in the evening. During his illness, G melted like butter when I rubbed his ears and face. I realize now that he was suffering from the symptom of liver disease and my rubbing his ears and face somewhat relieved the itchiness. I can't help but to think we could have saved him only if I had known his liver was failing.

All his life G's feces had a green tinge and it never went away. Our vet suggested G had some "underlying issues" with his liver and/or spleen and they became full-fledged problems when G got older for no longer being able to contain the issues under control. This is the only reasonable explanation I could find to date, so I believe his guess to be true.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm so sorry to hear about Geoffrey & Pixie. :(

I know this thread is depressing, but I hope it will contribute to finding a answer to this problem. Thank you Nancy, HedgieMate, Kurai18 and Stephanie76 for the information. I know it's hard to think about, write about, let alone relive.

(((hugs)))
Susan
 

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Pequop didn't have any abnormal quill loss. All of my hogs lose about 1-2 every day or so. Didn't see any itching for Pequ either.
 

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Yes.. it is very sad to think of Bacon but I hope this information can be collected and studied so that it can help other little hedgies to survive. Please do use this information.
Oh and Bacon did not have any quill loss.
I still blame myself for not knowing as much as I do now and not giving him the care he needed.
I'm trying to learn as much as I can and not overlook anything, however insignificant as it might seem, but it is difficult since there are so many conflicting opinions and not a long history of research conducted on our domesticated hedgies.
I want to take this opportunity to urge everyone who owns a hedgie to not take advice on this forum lightly. I'm sure not everyone here is correct all the time, but when someone warns you of something that could cause a health issue please don't ignore it because it sounds over-protective or insignificant. This is for the sake of your hedgie's health and also for your own peace of mind. When something goes wrong with your hedgie, every single thing comes back to haunt you, and if there was something you could've done better and didn't you'll never forgive yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
kurai18, please do not blame yourself or think you didn't do enough. I don't know what else you could have done. You are a wonderful hedgie mommy!
 

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I wanted to add a footnote to my reply in this thread.

Our vet stated that your hedgehog doesn't have to stop eating completely to develop Fatty Liver Disease (FLD). The vet has seen a number of cases where the calorie intake in cats, rats, hedgehogs, etc. dropped "significantly" for different reasons triggering FLD. [To view a video clip describing FLD in cats, click HERE]

In Geoffrey's case, his appetite receded gradually over 3 weeks and the drop in his food consumption was quite insignificant from one day to the next. This is why our vet believed that the original cause of G's ailing health was a tumour either in his liver or spleen or both. It's most likely that the tumour(s) eventually led to malfunction of G's liver triggering FLD in the end.

FLD alone is reversible if caught in time. To quote from About.com:Cats,
...The treatment for Fatty Liver Disease is dietary, and works quite well in reversing the condition if diagnosed early. The idea is to force feed the cat enough nutrients to reverse the metabolic malfunction that caused the condition in the first place. This is usually done with a feeding tube which is inserted into the esophogas or stomach by a veterinarian. The cat's caretaker then mixes a formula in a blender and using a syringe, feeds a small amount down the tube several times daily. After a few weeks of the forced diet, the cat can be offered food normally, to test his appetite, although the tubal feeding may need to be continued for up to six or eight weeks, until the cat's appetite has fully returned to normal.

I would like to point out that a crash diet of any kind is extremely dangerous for hedgehogs because of the risk of FLD. It's true obesity may lead to liver disease among other health issues, but if your hedgehog is overweight or obese, please make sure to reduce his/her calorie intake very gradually and over a long period of time. Do not put your hedgie on any kind of crash diet because it could trigger FLD in a matter of a couple of days in the worst case.

Even if your hedgie is not overweight, FDL can kick in if for any reason at all your hedgie's calorie intakes drops significantly (e.g. inaccessibility to food, immobility due to an injury, etc.). So please make sure to check your hedgie's food consumption daily. Preferably by counting the kibble or weighing each serving.

FYI: There are other causes of liver disease besides FLD including: genetics, copper storage diseases, drug induced diseases, poisons, pancreatitis, malnutrition, parasites, environmental stresses, cancer, trauma and infectious diseases (bacterial, viral, fungal), just to name a few. :(
 

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Thank you Stephanie for responding. I know it's hard for you right now & I appreciate you coming forward with your story. Herisson (((HUGS))) you!

-Symptoms your hedgehog displayed.
Tired, quill loss, no wheeling, not wanting to be held, strange breathing sounds while sleeping.

-What was the diet? Brand names + formula. Example: "Insert Name- Indoor", "Insert Name- Low Calorie".
Wellness- Indoor, NB-Reduced Calorie, RC- Indoor 27.

-Approximately how long the hedgehog was on the food prior to developing the liver issue. If given a mix, which food/foods were the main part of the diet.
Wellness 1/2, NB 1/4, RC 1/4. Wellness & NB for about 1 year. RC since beginning of February.

-Treats/extras fed.
Canned crickets, mealworms. Alternate nights.

-Weight of the hedgehog and if the hedgehog was considered overweight for his/her size.
630 grams. He is a good weight now, but was not at 680 when I removed Wellness. He was too heavy.

-Age of the hedgehog at the time of developing the liver issues.
1.5 years.

-Activity level of the hedgehog?
Low at time of diagnosis.

-Were there any events leading up to the liver issue as in hibernation attempts, not eating or not eating as much, any other illness or stressful event?
UTI treated with Clavomox. Revolution due to new additions.

-Tests performed and the outcome.
Lost quills checked under microscope for bacteria/fungus, in house fecal for parasites, blood panel & fecal sent to lab, x-ray.

*Results: Elevated liver enzyme, calcium and white blood cells. Anyone who can "read doctor", I will send you the lab results if you would like to see them.

-Medications or Herbal remedies administered.
Baytril, Milk Thistle Lactulose.

-Vet advice given.
Give Milk Thistle Lactulose nightly.
***Remove RC 27 due to high calcium. This is Herisson specific, his calcium was too high.

-Anything else you consider relevant.
I removed Wellness- Indoor three months ago & he lost some needed weight. Quillbert seems fine and is on the same diet. Wellness was removed shortly after Quillberts arrival and RC 27 was added.
What food does he eat now? My Lily is having this problem too
 
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