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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is the happenings:

Both Puff & Chloe have not eaten any dry kibble since last Thursday evening. Chloe had been dropping a bit of weight but eating normal for the week leading up to it, but Puff had been perfectly healthy. Then last Friday night they ate nothing, and did not wheel. They haven't eaten dry kibble yet or touched their wheels since. We saw the vet Saturday and were sent home with antibiotics (oral clavamox) and an immune booster (heal-x/avi-x booster) for both Puff and Chloe. However the only things noticeably wrong according to my vet (who's amazing - I found a new super awesome one) were slight crackling sounds in Puff's lungs (she assumed URI) and some sounds in Chloe's lungs but nothing major. Otherwise they were both healthy minus the not eating thing.

They have been on the antibiotics now since Saturday night and the immune booster since Monday morning and haven't shown a whole lot of improvement. I've been syringe feeding every day but otherwise they will only eat bugs, some cottage cheese, and 1 or 2 kibbles a night on their own.

It is possible that Oakley (my new male, separate cage, far away but same room) was the stressor, but I got him two Saturdays ago, and the girls were perfectly fine the first 6 days with him (but a URI could have developed in that time). Another thing I just thought of today is that he has a red heat lamp (came with it, didn't wanna change it right away cause thats what he's used to). It doesnt shine on the girls' cages and like I said the first 6 nights they were fine with it. They still come out at night, eat mealies, run around their cages, poop and pee. They just won't use their wheels or eat their dry kibble. I am going to get another heat lamp tomorrow ( no red light) just in case. But what is the likelihood this is part of the issue?

Also both of their bowel movements seem to be disrupted. I'm assuming this is from syringe feeding them a/d, baby food and offering whatever they will eat (cottage cheese, chicken breast, spinach, pears, wet cat food - although they barely touch any of them). They don't have diarrhea, but they both only seem to be having a bowel movement every other day. Mind you it is quite large and relatively healthy looking (maybe a little mucousy here and there) when they do have it. I've mentioned this all to my vet and am starting to syringe feed some pumpkin as well to help with that.

The most concerning thing however is Puff. She has started to show an ever-so-slight head tilt since Monday morning. I called the vet right away and we discussed options but due to the fact that it wasn't tilted dramatically, she was still walking normally and it appears to come and go, she concluded I didn't have to bring her in right away and should give the antibiotic more time. We want to run blood on Puff (and possibly Chloe) to see if perhaps there is more than just an URI going on, but because theyre both still so sick with the URI's, the vet wants to wait till they're a little healthier and a little stronger for the anaesthetic.

She of course mentioned WHS as a possibility due to the slower onset of the tilt (I actually first noticed a slight tilt on Saturday morning but then it vanished completely so the vet told me to monitor and call back if it returned) and the fact that it comes and goes.

I guess our course of action from here on out is let the antibiotics do their job, test the bloodwork for any other causes, possibly xrays if needed and then if the tilt doesn't go away completely, assume WHS if everything else has been ruled out.

I guess the frustrating part for me is that both Puff and Chloe stopped eating the exact same night. Both appeared to have a URI, both still aren't eating or wheeling (possibly due to the antibiotics or just not feeling well from the URI - who knows for sure) yet Puff might have WHS.

Is it possible the head tilting is just a side effect from being sick? I guess it's also possible that she just has the very unfortunate timing of getting a URI and WHS early symptoms at the exact same time.

What the heck else could be causing all of this? I want to run blood work sooner rather than later, but since it doesn't appear life threatening as of now, we don't want to risk their lives with the anaesthetic when they're already sick, until we absolutely have to.

Any ideas? I just want my girls to get better :cry:
Not to mention the fact that this is all incredibly stressing me out!

And due to very unfortunate timing, I have to go away for 2 nights this weekend. I am training my mom how to syringe feed as well as administer medication and watch for signs of illness (weigh, count kibble etc.) and she is more than competent is caring for my babies while I am gone (I will give her vet #'s and emergency #'s and money too) but the fact that I have to leave is stressing me out even more. And to top it all off I have school finals starting next wednesday which I cannot do poorly on or I will lose my schoarlship (which unfortunately due to my own health issues I am very close to doing due to missing so much school lately) and I haven't had a chance to study amidst all the hedgie drama!

Ahhh! Any advice at all would be so very much greatly appreciated.

-Signed a very stressed out, very worried, very frustrated hedgie mom
 

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How much light are they getting? What is the temperature? Are they housed together? Are you handling him before you handle them? Did the vet do a fecal on them?

My thoughts are: He brought something into the house to make them sick! He should have been in "quarantine". Preferably in a different room, but at the least, you should be handling him last or be changing clothes and washing hands before handling the girls. Al new hedgies should be in quarantine for 30 days.
 

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I could be wrong but it does seem like they caught something from your new one. I wonder if Puffs head tilt could be an ear infection or if mites have gotten into her ear canal. I know the WHS may be a possiblity but with the timing off it all it almost seems like it would be a side effect to something contagious. When trying to think of things an ear problem is what came to mind because ear infections or other ear problems can cause balance issues or head tilting in other animals. One of my dogs a long time ago had an ear infection which caused him to tilt his head. The vet said that most likely the ear felt wet inside to him or that it was draining and itching him. It's hard to tell but just an idea that I had when reading it. Im not an expert in anyway but wanted to share as something thats a possibilty.

Hope the gang feels better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hedgiepets said:
How much light are they getting? What is the temperature? Are they housed together? Are you handling him before you handle them? Did the vet do a fecal on them?

My thoughts are: He brought something into the house to make them sick! He should have been in "quarantine". Preferably in a different room, but at the least, you should be handling him last or be changing clothes and washing hands before handling the girls. Al new hedgies should be in quarantine for 30 days.
The temperature right now is at a constant 79F. It was at a constant 76-78F but I've turned it up since they've been sick and are giving them extra heating as well (hand warmers in covers in their igloos). I have a light on a timer that is set so that there is 14 hours of light a day. I am going to turn an extra light on just in case too.

Unfortunately due to having other predatory animals in the house (3 dogs, 2 cats) I only have one room I am able to shut the hedgehogs in where they are safe. He is as far away from the girls' cages as possible in this room and I have been handling him very last every night (after I handle and feed the girls) and I wash my hands between each hedgehogs as well as spray down the scale with disinfectant. I haven't been holding them in my laps either so they're not touching any clothing.

All that being said, it's totally possible he brought something in and I unknowingly passed it on to my girls despite the precautions I've been taking.

The weird thing is he's perfectly healthy and checked out at the vet 100% except for maybe mites, which he has been treated for. That being said he could be asymptomatic.

Unfortunately I was unable to get a fecal sample from any of my hedgies that was fresh enough to be tested on Saturday. I will definitely bring some in tomorrow or the next day though if you think that will show anything we may have missed.

Thank you for your help. I really wish I could have kept him in a different room. Although due to my girl's histories of URI's, my vet says she thinks that one of them may be a carrier for a viral infection, that flares up whenever a new stressor appears, and that the bacterial URI is a secondary infection that occurs.

Not sure how likely this is though?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hedgieonboard said:
I could be wrong but it does seem like they caught something from your new one. I wonder if Puffs head tilt could be an ear infection or if mites have gotten into her ear canal. I know the WHS may be a possiblity but with the timing off it all it almost seems like it would be a side effect to something contagious. When trying to think of things an ear problem is what came to mind because ear infections or other ear problems can cause balance issues or head tilting in other animals. One of my dogs a long time ago had an ear infection which caused him to tilt his head. The vet said that most likely the ear felt wet inside to him or that it was draining and itching him. It's hard to tell but just an idea that I had when reading it. Im not an expert in anyway but wanted to share as something thats a possibilty.

Hope the gang feels better.
Sigh, yes that's what I'm thinking now too. I feel like an awful owner, but I tried so hard to keep them separated. It was hard because it wasn't safe to keep the hedgie anywhere else because of my other animals.

I suggested an ear infection to my vet, she said it was possible but unlikely, but maybe it was caused by mites? Especially since she's shaking her head occasionally too. Theoretically the antibiotics should clear up an ear infection shouldn't they? but I'm wondering if it's deeper like inner ear or something, if Puff would need actual ear drops as well? Does anyone know of hedgies that have gotten ear infections and if ear drops were used and what kind? I have Surolan ear drops in my cupboard from when my dog had an ear infection. If this is safe for hedgies I could ask my vet if I could use that too just to see if it helps?

I'm gonna call my vet tomorrow and ask about that.

Oakley might have had mites so I treated him as a preventative, but I've been holding off on treating the girls with revolution because you're really not suppose to use it on sick animals and my vet said not to do anything until they're better. It wouldn't clear up an ear infection anyways, she'd need something else for that...but it could explain what caused it. I know cats get ear infections from mites all the time, now that I think about it.

Ohhh I really hope that's all it is!
 

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The important thing is you reacted quickly when you realized there was a problem and tried to correct it, I don't think you are a bad owner :)
 

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There are so many things that can cause a head tilt, ear infection, vestibular syndrome, mites and yes, WHS. Don't worry about WHS at the moment because it would not cause the respiratory issues or loss of appetite. WHS hogs usually continue to have a good appetite.

Vestibular syndrome can cause the head tilt and loss of appetite as because they are dizzy, they don't feel like eating. Usually with it, they have difficulty walking or don't want to walk because they are so dizzy.

Ear infections can come from a drop of water in the ear during the bath, or if they scratch their ears, think poopy foot scratching an ear. Usually they scratch at their ears if they have an ear infection, they also shake their head. When my Roll had the ear infection, he was on drops as well as antibiotic. The drops were just ordinary polysporin ear drops. With an ear infection their appetite can go because it hurts to chew. The chance of both of them getting an ear infection at the same time would be unlikely.

If he is not showing respiratory symptoms and was checked out okay by the vet then he did not pass anything to the girls except for possibly mites.

Hedgehogs can come down with URI's from stress but it is highly doubtful that the addition of your new boy to their room would cause a URI and especially not both of them. If that were the case, my gang would be sick all the time as I'm constantly taking in rescues and rehomes. I really don't think they even notice a newcomer to their room. Usually URI's don't cause loss of appetite until it has progressed quite far and for both of them to quit eating at the same time is really odd.

By chance did you get a new bag of food? I've had it happen that the formula of a food changed without notice and suddenly everyone decided they didn't like it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you for the insight, I read up on vestibular sydrome and that does sound like a possibility, as well as the ear infection. Do you think it would be ok if I picked up some polysporin drops and treated just in case? I'm assuming its one drop per ear for the dosing?

You're right the whole timing of everything seems really odd. I think maybe
it's possible Puff has an ear issue and Chloe has something else?

I just can't think of anythig I've changed that would add enough stress to cause a URI

I haven't added any new bags of food all that recently. A few months ago I got some new bags and I know the NB green pea and duck changed cause the kibbles are bigger but they were eating everything up until last week.

The vet suggested that maybe changing their diet like
I did a few months ago removing some of te higher fat foods was the stressor? She thought Chloe was maybe just being fussy all of a sudden. So I've offered her some higher fat foods but she doesn't seen to want those either. I have yet to offer 2 of the foods I took out (innova sr and solid gold) but those were never favourite foods of the girls to begin with. I dunno should I add them back and see?

They did eat a little bit more on their own yesterday. Puff ate about 7 kibbles and Chloe ate 2 or 3 plus some scrambled egg. Chloe still didn't have
a bowel movement tho, and Puffs looks kinda dark and mucousy. Do you think crushing their kibble and syringing that instead of the a/d will help them get a taste for it again? I think I might anyways to help stabilize the bowel movements.

Is there anything else I can do for them? Or do I just continue supporting with syringe feeding and wait it out?

Do you think it'd be safe to treat them with revolution to stop the mites from causing
more ear damage on puff just in case they're
the problem?
 

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Whether to treat for mites or not is a difficult decision especially while they are sick and not eating on their own. Revolution is processed through the liver and I guess I would be hesitant to use it right now especially not knowing for certain if they even have mites.

I would think using the polysporin ear drops would be fine but I think it would be best to ask your vet.

Usually it takes something really stressful like surgery, hibernation attempt, going to another house while owner is on vacation etc. A new food or removal of a food is unlikely to cause it and especially not to both girls at the exact same time. It is so weird that they both stopped eating the same day.

How long have you had Oakley and how long after did the girls get sick?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You're right, the revolution is just not worth the risk at this point.
I picked up some polysporin antibiotic ear/eye drops but I will call my ve before I use them.

I've had Oakley since 2 Saturdays ago. Chloe had been dropping weight before I got him but both Puff and Chloe appeared healthy and were eating normal the Saturday I got him, the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wenesday. Last Thursday night they both ate
less food than normal and then the Friday night they are none and I noticed congested sounds in both of them Friday morning.

It is so strange how exactly the same they are!

I hadn't noticed any hibernation attempts prior, and I just don't know how the URI's could be so advance that that's what's causing the loss in appetite when I hadn't noticed any symptoms before and the vet says the lungs sounds dont even sound that bad. In fact she was hesitant thr Chloe needed the antibiotics at all, but what would be causing her lack of eating then?

And Oakley is as healthy as can be! Eating tons, gaining weight (he's still a little skinny), wheeling and having perfecty healthy stools. I haven't heard him sneeze and no other signs of a URI.

This whole situation is just so very strange.
 

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Im not sure if these were asked but Ive been thinking hard on this. These might be out on a limb but I thought I'd throw them out there since its still a mystery. Is it possible you used a different detergent on the girls bedding? Did you clean the girls cages out with a different cleaner? Is there an air freshner near the girls cage? Did you have a spill or something on that side of your room and used a cleaner to clean it up? These wouldn't explain the ear tilt Puff has but it might they might be a reason that both girls would have similiar ailments and also explain why they might show a symptom more at home but when they got to the vets that the vet didn't think it sounded bad.

I'll keep trying to think of possibilities just because I know it helps me if I hear different suggestions when trying to figure something out. Hope they feel better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you for throwing things out there, at this point I am considering anything and everything. I wash their liners with tide free ( scent free dye free ) and even the bounche sheet I use in the dryer is scent free and dye free. The only thing I use
to clean otherwise is vinegar or chlorhexidine. I did put them on some white liners which were I just bought the other day but they were clean and I can't imagine baby receiving blankets being made with harsh chemicals or anything like that. Plus that was after they were already sick. I am going to wash their liners tonight so I'll do a vinegar rinse just to be sure.

Thank you everyone for putting the time into thinking about solutions to this medical mystery. My vet isn't back until Friday so I'm holding off on the ear drops for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Update:

*Knock on wood* but I think my girls may finally be getting better. Puff ate 13 kibbles last night along with a lot of bugs and Chloe ate 8 kibbles along with a lot of bugs. I am still syringe feeding but I'm finding if I give them a little bit less right before bed they have more of an appetite to eat their dry kibble. They both lost a bit of weight since getting sick, but I've got them both at a stable weight now and have started giving them some wax worms to help put back on some weight.

Chloe finally had a bowel movement last night too. Puff didn't, but she had a big one the night before. I think as long as they are having one at least every second night at this point I can chalk it up to constipation, rather than something more serious like a blockage.

I heard Oakley sneeze once this morning but his zoo zone cage doesn't let a lot of air circulation in and he made quite the mess on his liner last night so I'm hoping that's what's causing the sneezing. His new cage arrived this morning, so he'll be moving into that tonight and I'll continue monitoring closely for signs of a URI.

Puff still has the head tilt, but I think it may be going away too. Hard to say at this point but let's hope! Our vet will call me back tomorrow and then I will be making an appointment for Monday (they get their last antibiotic dose Monday morning) to make sure Puff and Chloe's lungs sounds are gone away and to make sure Oakley isnt starting to develop a URI. That way I won't interupt the antibiotic dosing, if they need more. Oakley's been getting the immune booster too, which the vet said should help prevent him from getting a URI (he didnt have one last week at the vet and I dont think he has one yet).

After all this is finally taken care of I will restart Oakley's quarantine. Still can't put him in another room unfortunately, but I'm going to try make a physical barrier between him and the other girls and be extra zealous about hand washing, clothe changing and disinfecting everything.

I'm getting my carpets cleaned and disinfected this morning to kill off anything that may be lurking in them (don't worry I won't be letting my hedgies directly on the carpet after this, and the company isn't using any highly scented products) and I'm doing a complete wash down of everything this afternoon - cages, liners, toys, etc. That way any bacteria or mites lurking about will be taken care of.

*fingers crossed* I really reallly hope it's downhill from here and that everyone gets 100% healthy and reamins that way!
 

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Glad it's sounding like they're all continuing to improve. Eating... pooping... yippee!

I was wondering, now that they've already been exposed to one another, do you need to re-start a quarantine for Oakley? Practicing good cleaning and disinfecting I totally understand, but I'm thinking strict quarantine might be like continuing to bail water after your boat's already submerged. I could be wrong here though... and hoping a long-time hedgiexpert can chime in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
smhufflepuff said:
Glad it's sounding like they're all continuing to improve. Eating... pooping... yippee!

I was wondering, now that they've already been exposed to one another, do you need to re-start a quarantine for Oakley? Practicing good cleaning and disinfecting I totally understand, but I'm thinking strict quarantine might be like continuing to bail water after your boat's already submerged. I could be wrong here though... and hoping a long-time hedgiexpert can chime in.
I think you are probably right, at this point there's not much point to it. This is what Nancy said in response to me asking if I could quarentine him in my bathroom:

Nancy said:
Since Oakley got a clean bill of health from the vet and the girls had URI's when there, there is more chance that Oakley got his URI from them. If he'ed had it first, he would have shown symptoms sooner.

Personally, I wouldn't bother with moving him to another spot to quarantine. It might just cause him stress and since they are all sick, it won't make much difference anyway.
 
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