WHAT IS WHS?
AND HOW DOES IT EFFECT HEDGEHOGS?
This information is about Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS). WHS is when your hedgie starts to wobble a bit like it is drunk. As time goes by, the hedgie will start to fall over from time to time. As more time goes by, they get to the point where they are unable to walk at all.
I had one hedgie, Trooper, that had WHS. Now I have a second hedgie, Charlotte Mae, that has WHS too. There are a lot of things that you can do to help them with it, but sadly to say, there is no cure. Please have your vet check for inner ear infection first. Some times an inner infection can mimic WHS.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR HEDGEHOG WITH WHS
Please read DISCLAIMER.
I have noticed that, depending on what you do for your hedgie with WHS, it really matters how you care for them. If given the proper diet and exercise, they tend to live a little longer. It is a great deal of work, but it is well worth it!!!!!
Here is what I do for my Charlotte Mae, who now has WHS:
I feed her twice a day (three times if you see a weight loss) I grind up Brisky's hedgehog food
8 in 1 Hedgehog Food in a coffee bean grinder (please do not use cat food unless is it top quality like Wellness by Mother Hubbard). I add calcium (phos-free) and Missing Link. Both calcium and Missing Link can be found in your pet stores. The calcium is in the reptile section of the pet stores. I mix that with Ensure, or Boost will work too. I mix it into a cereal, like cream of wheat. Kind of thick, but not too thick. I feed one full *syringe of this to her. Then I also give her one full syringe of her favorite foods, like baby food applesauce, or baby food banana and "5" full *pipettes of water - no less!!!
*Ask your vet to give you a syringe w/a curve like spout on it. It is called a "monoject" syringe. Then cut the spout off at an "angle" and file down the rough edges with a nail buffer -BEFORE- using. Doing this makes for a great feeding syringe. You can also get pipettes at your vet's office for free most of the time. (See photo below).
The top picture is a "monoject syringe." The bottom picture is a "pipette".
After breakfast, I exercise her by rubbing her front paws from the top of her arms to the bottom of her paws a 100 times each, to increase the circulation. Then I do the same for her back legs. I rub the top of her thigh to the bottom of her toes a 100 times each. Then I take her front paws and do a "walking" motion with them 100 times each. I do the same thing for the back legs, 100 "walking" motions each too. Then I take her *after many kisses* :o] and bend her into a ball (actually a semi-ball since there are days she can make a ball and days where she can't) I ***carefully bend her halfway 50 times.
At lunchtime I give her some vitamins and holistic medicines that a holistic vet gave me along with Prednisolone. I potty her, that is what I call it. I hold her till she potties and poops since she can't stand. Then I give her "5" - no less - pipettes full of water. Then I exercise her like stated above.
Around mid day, I try and potty her again.
At diner time, I give her one syringe full of her hedgie cereal and one syringe of sweet potatoes and turkey mixed (I try and give her meat and veggies at night and some mealworms). Then "5" pipette of water - no less and exercise her again as stated above.
It is very important that your hedgie gets plenty of water!!!! Plenty, or they will dehydrate and then you will have to learn how to sub-Q them with lactated ringers. Sub-Qing is when you take an IV drip bag, which is called a lactated ringer, and fill a syringe w/needle up with the lactated ringer solution. You then "tent" the scruff. The scruff is located between the shoulder blades, like a mother cat who scruffs her babies to carry then. By tenting the skin, the needle will be placed -UNDER- the skin and NOT in the muscle, organs or other important tissues. Have your vet show you the proper procedure in doing this before you try this on your own. It is always best to place the lactate ringer bag on a heating pad to warm the fluids up to a "mild warm", not too hot. If the lactated ringer is too hot or cold it will only stress your hedgie out, make it very unpleasant for him, not to mention more difficult for you to inject the fluids. Another injection site is between the quill line and the skin on its side. (between shoulder blades is much safer). If your hedgie squirms while this is being done, using a "butterfly" needle is WONDERFUL (see below). It allows them to walk around while the fluids are being injected. Depending how dehydrated your hedgie is, some hedgies take 10cc's once a day to twice a day. Your vet can tell you how much and how many times a day to do this. Don't fear learning this, because this is very easy and can save a life. Once again, please don't ever do this with out your veterinarian’s recommendation. If you ever need to know how to do this procedure just e-mail me.
If you can think of more circulation exercises to do to your hedgie, the better off they will be.
Try and remember to rotate them often from their sleeping position during the day to avoid stiffness and bed sores.
If she potties on herself I wash her ASAP. This prevents any rashes and burns from the acid in her urine. Try and use a soap that doesn't dry out their skin. Twice a week or more check under each limb, like armpit. You are checking for little sores that might develop due to potty accidents. If you see any little red spots starting to develop, put some Bag A Balm on them. This seems to heal them right up
Since my Charlotte Mae is unable to get around any more I lay her on 1/2 of a diaper. All I do is buy a pack of diapers and cut them in 1/2. I then lay the diaper under her. The diapers are a great help in case she ends up potting at night before I can get to her. This way she stays fairly dry till I can tend to her needs again. If your hedgie is not potting enough, you may have to help them. A few ways are: run their hinny under warm water for a bit. NOT hot or cold water, just warm. If that doesn't work you will need to stimulate them. You can do this by wetting a paper towel, cotton ball, or dishtowel and "gently" start to stroke their private area. Start form mid belly and gently apply pressure stroking downwards to the end of the tail. Keep doing this several times and this should help them go. I suggest you do this over the sink.
If your hedgie is still able to get around a bit, this is a great exercise for them to do. Take two blankets and roll them up tight on the long side. Place the blankets next to each other and put your hedgie in the middle of the two blankets. This will allow your hedgie to walk between the blankets without falling over. Do this several times a day to help slow down the WHS progress. Look at my example:
My poor Charlotte is on Prednisolone and a ton of holistic medications, I think this all helps her a bit, but there is no cure as yet. A few things you can get at a vitamin or herbal store is EFA (essential fatty acids), vitamin C, E, A, and B1 in liquid form. If your hedgie starts to turn a little orange/yellowish then start using milk thistle in a non-alcohol form. I have noticed that with lack of movement they tend to start getting what looks like FLD (fatty liver disease). This milk thistle seems to clear it up pretty well. I give her 2 drops a day. Stop the use of milk thistle after you see the orange/yellow tint of the skin going away. **Please get the exact dose of each item from your vet**
A new piece of information has just come out, but not confirmed a 100%. Giving vitamin B1 and Selenium in the early stages of WHS "may" significantly help to slow down the WHS process. Vitamin B1 and Selenium given in moderate dosage has helped a few hedgehogs that were displaying WHS symptoms. If given in a moderate dosage, it would be worth a try. Please remember with vitamins and minerals, if given at a higher dosage then recommended, it can cause medical problems or harm. Please seek Veterinarian advice and dosage recommendation before administering any treatment to your hedgehog. You can buy Vitamin B1 in a capsule form. I believe Selenium can be bought in the same form as well. If not, then crush the tablet up into a fine powder. Pour both powders into a 1-oz. bottle and mix it w/bottled water. Once again, ask your vet on proper dosage per day (drops per day per hedgehog's weight).
I have spoken w/my holistic vet and he is willing to help other hedgies with WHS. He is willing to ship holistic remedies to others in need. If you would like more details please go to Holistic Animal Center of Arizona.
There is a research committee going on to find a cure and cause for WHS. This research, as you know now, is very important to all hedgehogs. If you have a hedgie that has WHS or know of someone that does, we ask, if at all possible, could you please help in this research? All we ask is that you fill out a form regarding your hedgehog’s WHS symptoms. Another thing we ask, and this is a very hard thing to ask, but when the time comes that your little hedgie passes away we ask if there can be a necropsy (autopsy) done on the hedgie. This information is extremely valuable in helping to find a cause and cure to this horrid illness that affects a lot of hedgehogs. I myself have had a necropsy done on one of mine that had passed away from WHS. I felt if he had to die of this horrid illness, then I wanted something good to come from this and try to help others. I realize that this is a tough decision to make, but please think about it. The research committee will pay for the necropsy. If this makes you feel a little better, after I had the necropsy done on my Trooper, I had him cremated so that he would always be with me. I had a few of his quills put in a vial that fits on a necklace that my friend Laura made for me, to keep him close to my heart.
If you would like a WHS form to fill out, drop me an E-mail with your snail mail address. Remember, this helps in our research to find a cause and cure of WHS.
The WHS research is being done by Dr. Donnasue Graesser:
Dr. Donnasue Graesser, Ph.D.
P.O. Box 242
Chaplin, CT 06235
E-Mail Dr. Graesser
If you have any questions on WHS, please drop me an E-mail. I will be more than willing to answer any questions that I can.
Click on here to visit the Official WHS Website and learn how you can help battle this horrible disease. To stop WHS in it's tracks - DO NOT breed related hedgehogs EVER!!!!! To know what hedgehog is related to another hedgehog please go to the International Hedgehog Registry
It is best NEVER to breed until there are none to adopt or rescue. There are way too many animals in this world that need good homes. If you are looking for a hedgehog to rescue or adopt, please e-mail me.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION
REGARDING MEDICAL CARE FOR YOUR HEDGEHOG
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