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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A couple weeks ago I noticed a bulge on one side of our hedgehog, Percy's, jaw. On closer examination I could see that his lower jaw is actually mis-aligned now, pulling to the left. We took him to the vet and they said it's either an abscess tooth or jaw cancer. The vet can't determine which and can't remove the suspect tooth because Percy's jaw has deteriorated in that area and it would cause more damage to remove it than leave it. He started Percy on a 10 day course of antibiotics (which we finished Sunday) and an anti-inflamatory, which I'm still giving him. At our check up Saturday the vet said Percy was the same weight and the swelling was down significantly, though his jaw will now always be misaligned thanks to scar tissue & jaw deterioration. During those 10 days Percy was eating and drinking like normal (I've been putting water on his dry food so it's soft for him) and running in his wheel every night.

All of that changed yesterday. Percy didn't eat Sunday night and he didn't eat Monday night either. I didn't hear him running in his wheel either. Today I tried syringe feeding him a tiny bit of rescue hedgie food (a recipe I got from a member of this forum years ago), but he threw up a few minutes later. The vomit was bright green, which I'm assuming was mostly stomach bile.

He's listless, body temp feels a bit chill despite the heating pad I keep beneath his cage. I'm super, super worried but I know from past experience the emergency vet near us is USELESS when it comes to hedgehogs. I'm afraid we're going to lose him tonight.

Any advice? Is there anything I can give him that might help? A pure liquid like chicken broth or pedialyte or something? I don't know if he's listless because he hasn't eaten or if it's his time. He's 4 and that's the age we lost our previous seven hedgehogs around.

I appreciate any advice and prayers. There are a lot of tears in our house tonight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Phoenixjay, I appreciate the good thoughts.

Percy drank a bit of water a few minutes ago and his body temp is better. I had him in his hedgie sack and he was scritching around and exploring as he usually does. That made me feel a bit better. Maybe his listlessness and lower body temp were an aborted hibernation attempt. The not eating and vomiting still concern me though.

I'm really hoping someone can recommend a liquid I can give him a tiny bowl of. Like broth. Percy is a weird hedgie, he hates mealies, crickets and any sort of human food (over the years, I've tried ALL the ones you're allowed to give a hedgie). The absolute only thing he'll ever eat is his cat kibble.
 

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It's not a good idea to feed animals when they're cold - their body isn't working correctly due to not being warm enough, and if you add food into their stomach, all heat/energy automatically goes to digesting, which makes their overall situation worse. The first thing to do is always warm them up first.

Is there any way you can heat his entire cage to a warm temperature? Heating pads are okay for supplemental heat, but they're not ideal for keeping the whole cage warm. And if he was cool, he's not staying warm enough. A space heater or CHE would be a good idea to keep the cage to 75* or so (warmer if he needs it).

Now that he's warm, try syringe-feeding him again. There's more advice on doing so here if you need it - http://www.hedgehogcentral.com/foru...yringing-tutorial-syringe-feeding-sticky.html

I'd give your vet a call to let him know about the not eating & vomiting, just to get his opinion on it. It could've been due to a hibernation attempt, but with Percy's other problems, it'd be a good idea to check.

Good luck and let us know how he's doing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the advice Lilysmommy, your link to the syringe feeding sticky was EXACTLY what I needed.

Percy is doing a little better this morning. We've been syringe feeding him a few cc's of watered down Science Diet AD every couple hours and he's perked up and seems to like it. He hasn't thrown up since last night. Our hedgie vet doesn't work on Wednesdays so we have an appointment for first thing tomorrow morning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Percy is backsliding again. My mom was feeding him during the day and she was giving him approximately 1cc every few hours, not more as I'd assumed. He's not happy about being fed and turns his head away. He seems listless again, just lies by his water dish mostly and drinks fairly frequently. But what has me really worried is that he's had one bowel movement since we began syringe feeding him and it is like bloody jelly - dark red and super sticky. I shoved it in a plastic baggie to take to the vet tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Percy's vet visit was so-so this morning. He's lost more weight, 10% of his body weight since he was weighed at the vet on Saturday. They took an x-ray and there are no obvious masses or lumps but vet confirmed that there is blood in Percy's stool. Percy also appears to have a prolapse and part of his anus is sticking out and bloody looking. Vet recommended I put KY jelly on it tonight and gently massage to see if we can coax it back inside. Also recommended we continue to syringe feed Percy and give him a bit longer to see if he responds.

Overall, however, vet said things really aren't looking good right now. He suspects cancer but can't confirm. Percy is still responsive & moving around however, so the vet doesn't feel like we need to have Percy put to sleep just yet. There's still hope even if it's tiny.

I'm going to try giving Percy some vanilla Boost Plus tonight as well as various watered down baby foods to see if I can find something, anything he might be tempted to eat and if we can get his weight back up.
 

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I'm sorry he's having more issues. :( I'm a bit surprised the vet didn't try to do something about the rectal prolapse himself...but I hope you can get it reversed. Good luck and keep us updated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Lilysmommy. I am really struggling. I don't want to give up on Percy too soon but I also don't want to make him suffer unnecessarily. That's the hardest part when hedgies get really sick (in my experience) - know when to keep fighting and when to let go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Percy is still hanging in there. He made up some of the weight he lost. I haven't been syringe feeding him for over a week and a half now. I feed him twice a day - watered down kibble and a bowl of Vanilla Boost Plus.

I think it's definitely cancer in his jaw and not an abscess. His lower jaw is more shifted to the left than it use to be, likely from bone deterioration. It breaks my heart. He doesn't run in his wheel anymore. However, he still eats and drinks on his own and he runs around and is good-tempered when I take him out to play each evening.

I don't want him to be in pain, but I don't want to give up too soon and miss a day with him. Is there any way I can tell if he's in pain? I'd assume he'd be more huffy than normal if he was. I also assume when it's time to let him go he'll stop eating and scampering about.

I'd appreciate any advice from owners who've had similar issues with their hedgies. Thanks for the previous advice, the Boost REALLY helped.
 

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I am very sorry you are going through this and I can only guess as to what is going on with Percy, but I had a hedgehog with an oral tumor who I had to put down the first day that you posted about your hedgie. You can read about her story here under health. It was titled "Help, I'm scared.". In any case, I think you know in your heart that the time is approaching when you should help Percy. If his jaw is dislocated and there is bone loss he is likely in pain. It is odd that the swelling went down temporarily when he was on anti-inflammatories before though.

I hope that you are still giving him some anti-inflammatory meds and pain medication. I cannot tell you when the right time to take him in would be, but you have to think if you are doing what is in Percy's best interest at this time. My Sola was running in her wheel and eating but she was definitely more lethargic. Her tumor had caused bone loss and it had grown by about 70% since I first noticed it. All told I kept her quality of life decent for a month. It was a horrible decision to be faced with, but in the end you have to do what is right for Percy and you already know it is not going to get any better, it will only get worse.
You want to give him some dignity and not wait until he is in terrible condition.

I wish you strength during this difficult time. I hope that your mother or a friend can go along and comfort you. Once again, I am sorry you have to go through this. It really is the worst thing we have to face as hedgie parents - but it is the only humane thing that you can do.

Much love,
Susan H.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you for replying Susan and for your good wishes. I will go read your post about Sola and I am so sorry you lost her.

Percy is on an anti-inflammatory right now. He was off it for a while, but a few days ago I noticed the swelling was back and started him back on it. I'm going to take him to the vet in the next few days and have the vet assess how Percy is doing and if he's in pain.
 

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That sounds like a good plan. Did his prolapse get better? Also, I was curious, where are you located. I re-read your post and I see that this is not your first hedgehog. Have you dealt with an oral mass before? This was the first time for me, although I understand it is sadly very common. The thing that is a little confusing to me about Percy is that his swelling seems to improve with the anti-inflammatories. Is it by chance Piroxiam you are using? That has actually been shown to help shrink some oral tumors. Anyway, I am sure your vet can help guide you in the right direction.:(
-Susan H.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Susan,
Percy is our 8th hedgehog. The first seven were all concurrent. That wasn't intentional, but our female hedgehog gave birth to five babies shortly after we got her. We said we'd adopt them out when they were old enough but by the time they were 6 weeks I was too in love to let any of them go. So for a little over 3 years we owned seven hedgehogs. And they all died within a year of each other. All but one from cancer. None had oral cancer, however.

His prolapse was better the next day and he hasn't had any issues since with it. He's peeing and pooping just fine and they're normal sized poops. I'm not sure what the anti-inflammatory is, but I was going to bring up Piroxiam at the vet appoint. We're scheduled to see the vet today at 5. I'm really hoping things go well, though I suspect otherwise.

I won't let Percy suffer needlessly if he's in pain. One of our previous 7 was sick and I took her to the vet (a different one than we see now) and they told me she wasn't ready to be put down even though I knew in my heart that she was. So I waited a day. And instead of dying peacefully she died in agony in my hands, making awful noises as I cried and held her and promised myself that never, ever would any animal of mine suffer like that again if I could prevent it. I feel like Percy is close to the time we'll need to let him go, but not quite there yet. I just want outside confirmation of that fact.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The vet confirmed that Percy has oral cancer. Percy probably has 2-6 weeks at most. He's on an anti-inflamatory/pain med and we're playing with him as much as possible and giving him extra cuddles and love. The vet felt now was too soon to put him down as he's still so active, eating, drinking and pooping well. I asked about Apocaps, Piroxicam & Benadryl. The anti-inflammatory he's on is in the same family as Piroxicam so should offer the same benefits. The vet felt Percy's particular cancer was unlikely to respond to Apocaps or Benadryl. He said when Percy stops eating again it's a sign he's ready to go, until then, love on him as much as we can and take it day by day.
 
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