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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone. I am very frustrated with my hedgehog, Annabelle. She will be turning a year old on May 1, but I feel like I am failing as an owner. :(

A little background (sorry if it's long):

I acquired Annabelle from a breeder last summer. I had done a lot of research prior to that and knew that I really wanted/would be able to care for a hedgehog. The food mix she came with from the breeder was a combo of Blue Buffalo and several Purina foods. I asked about the Purina, but the breeder assured me that she'd been feeding it from the beginning and that she'd never had a problem with it, so I decided to continue feeding it to her since that's what she was used to.

From the start, Annabelle was a picky eater. I tried adding Chicken Soup Lite to her food, but she wouldn't touch it. Eventually she stopped eating everything in the mix except for the Kitten formula. To this day, that's all she will eat. In the fall, I noticed that she was eating less and had stopped pooping. I thought that maybe she was constipated, so I brought her to the vet. The vet I use is known in the area as an exotic specialist, and sees a lot of hedgehogs, so I felt comfortable using her.

Anyway, the vet performed the same sort of exam that she had for Annabelle's baby check-up. Then she turned her over and noted that her belly was jaundiced. I felt horrible, but I hadn't noticed the yellow color before. She decided to keep Annabelle for a few hours to run some tests. Nearly $300 later, Annabelle was diagnosed with secondary liver disease. The vet explained that since Annabelle had gone off her food, toxins had built up in her liver and caused the jaundice/lack of energy. She prescribed medicine (which was a pain in the butt to administer orally!) and told me that secondary liver disease is common in hedgehogs and that some seem to live with it indefinitely. She also told me that Annabelle's kidneys appeared abnormal on ultrasound, and that she might have a congenital defect.

In February, Annabelle went off her food again and was very yellow, almost orange. I brought her to the vet again and she was diagnosed with a possible UTI; the vet theorized that the discomfort from the UTI had caused her to go off her food, and then the liver disease flared up as a result. She got put back on medicine and her color seemed to clear up a bit.

SO, that brings me to last night.

I decided to give Annabelle a bath because I noticed that the fur on her belly was a bit yellow, probably from urine. The yellow color washed off with the shampoo, but as I was parting the fur to make sure I'd gotten all then soap out, I noticed that she was yellow again.

I'm just frustrated because it seems like no matter what I do, she's still yellow! I cannot get her to eat any other food, so she is stuck on the Purina Kitten Chow. She has a healthy appetite and runs all night on her wheel, but I wish I could do something about her color. I did all the research I possibly could before getting a hedgehog, and I still feel like I've failed her in some way. It's a terrible feeling. :(

Has anyone dealt with secondary liver disease in their hedgehogs before? The vet assured me that it's common and from the reading I've done, it seems to be a different ailment than fatty liver disease. She said that liver problems are common in hedgies and that it's just something we'll have to deal with, but I hate seeing Annabelle all yellow; it makes me think that she's doing poorly.

Thanks everyone. I guess I mainly needed to vent. None of my friends really understand what I'm going through; they think that because Annabelle isn't a dog or cat, she's not worth all the time/energy/money I've spent trying to figure out her problems. But she's my responsibility, and I'm not just going to let her suffer is something can be done to help her. Maybe there's a treatment option I haven't found out about yet? Thanks again for reading all of this. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks so much for replying, Nancy. :)

Annabelle isn't overweight. Last time the vet weighed her she said she was right where she should be... but I have noticed that she's a bit more petite than most hedgehogs I've seen.

And thank you for the tips regarding switching picky eaters... I never would have thought of that. Hopefully it will be enough to trick her!

I keep Annabelle on pine bedding, which is actually yellow! I have resisted getting liners because I pay to do laundry and I figured it would be too expensive, and she's also not litter trained. But if it will keep her belly from being yellow, I'll do what I have to do!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the suggestions, guys. :) I am definitely going to switch to liners. I'm not crafty at ALL, but hopefully measuring and cutting fleece won't prove that difficult, haha. I'll try to post pictures of Annabelle's new digs soon. :)
 
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