I went away for the Easter long weekend and came back to to a sick hedgehog.
My brother reported that Poggles had not been eating and that he refused to go back to his bed, preferring to hide under the wheel instead. When I took a closer look at Poggy, I found that his chin was covered in drool and his stomach was all wet and slimy as well. I also found what looked like a large patch of dried blood. I was horrified.
I put Poggy in the bath and washed away all of the sticky drool and I washed his house and all his linens. Then I went online to do research on what could possibly be causing this illness.
I found some forum threads about aging hedgehogs having teeth problems and super salivating in order to moisten and eat hard kibble, or drooling a lot while trying to eat. I suspected that Poggy was having teeth problems. However, it didn't explain the patch of blood. Also, Poggy was not eating softer foods like softened kibble or even cheese (and you know how much he loves cheese!). The only thing I managed to get him to eat was Ensure and to drink water.
Of course I started to worry. I imagined that he might have some kind of mouth or throat cancer, that he had a urinary tract infection since he was sucking on his penis a lot (maybe it hurt?), that he was impacted (since he wasn't pooping), or that he had kidney failure (he was drinking a lot of water), etc. Meanwhile, Poggy started pushing his face along the ground in his clean litter pan around and around (Why is he doing that!?).
The next day, I called the vet. It was the only way to really know what was wrong.
The vet shone a light on Poggy's face and noticed a little bit of blood in the saliva under his chin. He couldn't tell if the blood was from Poggy's chin or his mouth so he put Poggy under anesthetic to take a look inside his mouth.
I waited anxiously in the waiting room, trying to remember to breathe. I couldn't believe how worked up I was getting, but I guess that's what happens when you love your pets.
Finally, the vet came back and invited me to come take a look at Poggy in the operating area. The vet told me that Poggy had "a necrotic tongue". That brought up images in my head of a blackened, rotting tongue, but it was not as bad as I thought (but still bad). About 1/3 of his tongue was all red and raw with bits of dead tissue all over it. The vet suspects that Poggy either bit an electric cord and got an electric burn, licked some corrosive chemical, or licked something very hot. Other potential causes are a string or hair wrapped around his tongue accidentally or a tumor preventing proper blood flow to the tip of his tongue.
The vet cut off all the dead bits of tissue, painted antiseptic all over Poggy's tongue and gave him an antibiotic injection and a pain medication injection. He didn't find any tumors anywhere on Poggy's body (which is a relief!). Poggy was missing a few teeth in the front right side, but his other teeth looked healthy.
The vet gave me some antiseptic solution to put on Poggy's tongue twice a day. He also gave me some little syringes and powdered food to mix with water into a custard consistency. The vet says to make sure Poggy eats, even if it's just Ensure (which isn't really meant for hedgehogs). I'm supposed to bring Poggy back for another antibiotic shot in a couple weeks.
I have been feeding Poggy sips of cold Ensure throughout the day so that he has nutrition and water. I'm hoping the cold will help soothe his tongue. I also soaked and mashed up two of his kibble so that it became a thin soup. He sipped the water off, but I think the grittier bits need to be strained out next time since he looked uncomfortable after a few sips.
It's evening now so I drew up about 0.2 ml of the antiseptic rinse and gave it to Poggles while he was rolled up on his back. He actually ate the solution, but he didn't like it. He started running in the air making it very difficult to give him the rest of the solution. He started to annoint when he got back to his litter pan, but he changed his mind very quickly. Poor fellow.
I hope he gets better soon.
Have a great week and don't forget to hug your pets :)