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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello. It has been some time since I posted on these forums. You may remember I have a hedgehog named Tolstoy. He is the third I've owned...the previous two were Prof. Lupin, and then Pigwidgeon, both of whom I lost to cancer (and talked about it here).

Unfortunately, it looks like I may lose Tolstoy now. He is about 3 1/2 years old now, and a few weeks ago I noticed that he wasn't walking with his hind legs anymore. I discovered this literally two days before my wedding. I literally did not have time to do anything about it, as we left for our week-long honeymoon the day after the wedding.

Basically, he can weakly kick is back legs, but he can't support himself on them, and he can't walk on them. Also, from about mid-way down his back, he doesn't seem to be able to raise his spines. You can literally see the line of demarcation.

I feared WHS, or perhaps a back injury, though I couldn't imagine how he could have injured his back. His wheel is *very* large (he's a large male hog, with a target weight of about 620g according to the vet, so he needs a large wheel or he's all bunched up), so the arm doesn't move fast enough to smack him like that.

I got him to the vet within a few days of getting back. I was initially worried that this was WHS. The vet doesn't think so, and has basically diagnosed him with arthritis, but there's more. The X-rays showed degeneration of the cartilage in the sockets of his hips and his hind legs, as well as in the joints in the legs themselves. He also showed small spurs starting to grow on the underside of his vertebrae in his spinal column (where there is also some degeneration of the cartilage between the vertebrae). Basically, it would seem that the arthritis is paralyzing him. His blood work also showed elevated levels of calcium...that could explain the grown of the spurs on the vertebrae, but I can't imagine where it could be coming from. I feed him food specially designed for hedgehogs, and they've never had any worries or complaints (I'm hesitant to mention the name of the product, as they are good people and I don't want them blamed over nothing).

We put him on Myloxin (sp?), which seems to help a little...at least he doesn't seem to be in pain, and he's moving around a little more...but as before, he isn't going to where his wheel is to poo or pee...he's doing it where he sleeps. I use a cloth lining, and I'm using an extra cloth (a t-shirt) to make for easier clean up, but...it looks like he's losing some bladder control and sphincter control and/or bowel muscle tone. The vet said this is quite possible if the nerves in the spine are having problems, as they are the same ones that regulate the "muscle tone" of the internal organs, such as the bladder and intestines.

I apologize for rambling, but...I'm in a quandry. I love Tolstoy, but the simple fact of the matter is that he is awake in the evenings and at night, and I have to sleep sometime. I can't be with him every hour that he is awake, and I can't stand the thought of leaving him all night while I sleep, unable to move much (he can still get to his food and water bowls), laying in his own waste...

The vet says if the Myloxin doesn't work (he's been on it a week now) we can try Condroitin (sp?), which is supposed to help lubricate the joints...the same stuff used on humans...or another med that does the same thing, but I can't remember the name right now.

So...help! I'm turning to the hedgehog veterans and asking for advice. Has anything similar happened to any hog you own? Is this just an old age thing, or a disease thing? I know the vet is very good...she's an exotics specialist (the whole clinic is for exotics) and has taken a special interest in hedgehogs (goes to classes and seminars on topics about hedgies). Tolstoy is getting the best care he can get...but...what do I do? How long do I wait and how long do I give these medications a chance to work? I could accept that he can't run on his wheel again, that he's just getting old, but I don't know for certain. I'm getting torn up by the idea of leaving him to lay in his own waste and effectively paralyzed night after night, but also by the idea that I'm going to lose the third hedgehog I've owned out of three to yet *another* disease or illness.

Hedgehog veterans...please...I need wise words and advice. Consolation doesn't hurt either, but I need to know what to do, and I just can't figure it out. What is best for him? Is he suffering, does he have any quality of life? I just don't know, and I don't want to end his life over something that can be treated.

Help. :cry:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Dorasdaddy:

Thank you for the sanity check. I called the vet again (she took time to talk to me on the phone), and she explained more about the high calcium readings. She said that in some mammals, it can be a condition that is simply genetic. But she said it can also be a symptom of cancer, as can the spurs on his vertebrae.

She also said that after a week of the Myloxin, with no noticeable improvement, that adding additional drugs, at best, are going to give an additional improvement equal to what the Myloxin provided...in other words, not much at all.

Finally, she said that it is entirely possible that he has cancer. Cancer apparently fits all the symptoms we've seen so far, and would not show up on an X-ray if it was in an organ. I had a scare with him in July 2008 when he had a growth on his mouth that stopped him from eating. They removed the growth, stitched up the wound, and the biopsy came back negative for cancer...but his upper gums are swelling again as well (it was lower before), a sign of some kind of systemic distress going on in his body...and cancer fits the bill.

I have a decision to make...I will let you all know, but please, keep commenting if you have more to add.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Talked to the vet again, just to make sure I wasn't jumping the gun...and she thinks I'm not.

I'm taking him in on Saturday morning to be put to sleep. I get two more nights with him and I'm going to spoil him beyond belief.

And I'm going to get another after him. I have a wife and we have three cats...but it would be empty without a hedgehog too.
 
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