Image result for hedgehog in sackDon’t let your hedgie get cold!

Pet African pygmy hedgehogs need to be kept warm in the winter to prevent hibernation!  Hibernation is actually dangerous for African Pygmy hedgehogs.  It slows their metabolism down, leaving them susceptible to infections, dehydration and starvation.  It’s important to keep your hedgehog in an environment between 72 and 80 degrees.  This is not always comfortable for us humans.  We often keep our homes cooler in the winter than is healthy for our pet hedgies.

Click here for a great article on suggestions om providing your hedgie some supplemental heat from:

Signs of hedgehogs in danger of being too cold are decreased activity, decreased appetite, sneezing (as opposed to puffling).  So, if she’s not on her wheel and exploring at night, eating her food and turning down mealworms and other treats, check the temperature in her enclosure!  If that seems good, get her in to your local hedgehog vet!  (We see them here at Cimarron Animal Hospital!)

I’m a vet and I recently learned something about being a Pet Parent from my own terrifying experience with our beloved basset, Josie.  

Josie tangled with a Colorado River Toad a few weeks ago.  Nearly killed her.  She didn’t just lick it… she actually mauled it enough to kill it!  

Luckily, we were home.  It was 10 o’clock at night.  Luckily, she started seizuring, loudly, just outside my bedroom window.  Luckily, I was in there, reading a book.  Like a Mom who knows the difference between a “frustrated” cry and an “I’m hurt” cry from their child, I knew that this wasn’t just an “I’m excited” basset yelp!  I raced out to the back yard to find her on her chest, four legs splayed to the sides most alarmingly.  She was yelping senselessly, unresponsive to my voice and blind.  She was definitely blind– the veterinarian in me knew that.  The vet in my head starting cataloging symptoms (we didn’t know about the toad yet).  The basset mommy in my head went from freaking out to “what the he** do I do?” in a microsecond.  I knew she needed to get to a vet clinic.  This wasn’t something that the vet could take care of at home.  But which vet?!  My regular vet (“she’ll open up for this, at this time of night” right – cuz that’s me…) or the 24 hour emergency vet (“they’ll charge me an arm and a leg…” Yup, I thought that, right then.  “But maybe it’s worth it for a rational mind to be applied to this problem” “What’s wrong with my baby Josie!!!????  <freaking out again>). “Get a grip.  Get a catheter in. The clinic, then!”

All this while shouting for my 15 year old son to open the back door.  I set her on the kitchen floor, in the light, to evaluate. Still yelping mindlessly, still not standing, still blind.  Gums beet red. I remembered that I’m good in a crisis. “Son, put on a shirt and shoes, bring Josie to the car.”  

Now.  Add third factor:  15 year old son.  Who LOVES this dog.  It’s his self-proclaimed “emotional support basset”.  He’s never bonded with anything or anyone (pretty sure not even his parents!) like he has with this dog in the last 4 years.  Not given to emotional drama (thank the heavens), he starts asking the rational questions,

“What’s wrong with Josie?” 

“I don’t know”

“Can you fix it?”

“I don’t know”  (honest, but not very comforting, coming from your veterinarian Or your Mom!)

“Just get her in the car. Now!”  … No more questions.  He manned up, right then and there and picked up his baying, pooping, insensible baby girl and carried her to the car.

I made it to the clinic in 4 minutes ( a trip that usually takes 7– no traffic, didn’t care if police “escorted” me to the clinic– we could discuss it there- after I provided emergency care to my baby!) That was a long 4 minutes.  I had lots of time to try to figure out what was going on with our beloved basset.  Colorado River Toad.  It had to be.  Monsoon Season in Arizona. But this is the wackiest response I’d ever seen– not really seizuring- she’s still sitting up, she’s conscious- sort of– she’s vocal- a lot (basset hound, I guess)….

It happened that my husband had just deplaned after a trip out of town. “Call your Dad. Tell him to come directly to the clinic. Josie’s in trouble,” I told my son, tossing him my cell phone. 

My son has never expressed an interest or apptitude for veterinary medicine.  In fact, he gets a little grossed out when I start doing serious stuff involving blood, and he hates to see the animals scared, having to be restrained to help them…  But, again, he manned up. He restrained his baying, unresponsive puppy’s arm so I could place an IV catheter!  My son Rocked!

BUT THIS IS WHAT I LEARNED (besides how much it sucks to be the Pet Parent of a beloved baby and you have no clue what’s wrong, what you can do/ should do/ where to go– I’ve actually been here before…)

While I was working away at that catheter and taking 17 years to draw up a sedative — I’d figured out that my poor baby was having the worst “trip” ever– probably being chased through The Black Forest by giant Basset-Eating Pink  Food Crumbies– I listened to my son try to soothe his best friend and love-hound.  He did what every worried parent does. In clipped phases with the edge of panic on his voice,  “It’s OK, Josie.  Ssshh.  It’s OK.  It’ll be OK.  Hush Josie (for blessed sake, please hush with the baying….).  It’s OK Girl, It’s OK. Mommy will make it better (Oh, cr**, he had to say that?  No pressure, Dr. Mom…).  

HERE IS THE MOMENT OF BRILLIANT INSIGHT:

“Talk to her like you guys are at home snuggling on the couch.  Tell her she’s a good girl.  Call her “Balrog Jowl-rog”, like you do at home when you are both happy and having fun together.”

He paused, I think putting himself in the right frame of mind.  His tone of voice instantly changed to (something closer to) his happy, everything in life is wonderful, puppy play voice.  

And she instantly calmed down.  It wasn’t the sedative.  It was his tone of voice, the words he used and his entire manner.  He had to find the happy place in himself to say those words with a happy play voice.  He had to shed (or momentarily box away) his fear, to assume the calm needed to even remember happy play voice.  Whatever it was, Josie felt it.  She quieted.  She rested, just a little.  Her boy was at least with her, keeping her safe from those Pink Crumbies.

When Daddy arrived, Josie was quiet. The drugs had done their job.  But when they wore off, and Dad started with the Pet Parent Panic litany, my son told him, “talk to her like we’re all happy, snuggling on the couch, Dad.”  The two of them baby- love- puppy talked Josie through her next set of hallucinations til the new round of sedatives kicked in….  

After pulmonary edema secondary to the Colorado River Toad poison- induced shock was treated, Josie survived.  She doesn’t seem to have suffered any brain damage….  But, she doesn’t have to play Mozart, I guess….  And, she’s still eating her crumbies (you bet your sweet bippies!), so that must not have been what was chasing her through the Black Forest… 

LESSON:  When your pet is panicked, pretend your not.  Put your panic away and talk to them like you would if you were enjoying (whatever the two of you enjoy most together).  Say the goofy things to your pet in the face of panic that you do at home.  It is worth at least half a dose of injectable sedative.

I’ve used this calming technique twice with clients in the my exam room since Josie’s incident and it has worked beautifully.  It calmed both owner and pet….

Dr Deb Bohnke

Let’s talk Heartworms. Not a common problem in Arizona, but it is here. I’ve treated cases! Dogs most likely to be infected: Shelter adoptions/ Strays. Recommendation: every shelter adoption/ stray should be tested for Heartworm, Tick fever and Intestinal parasites upon adoption; investment of $ 87.00. (Most shelter don’t do these tests). Cool new drugs make the fight against these deadly parasites even easier/ better!

 

 

Microchips greatly increase the chance of getting your pet back if he/she is lost or stolen, … but a microchip only works if its registration information is accurate.  

Is your pet’s microchip up-to-date?

If you’ve ever moved, or changed phone numbers or other contact information, it’s more than worth the effort to make sure you’ve submitted updated information to your pet’s microchip registry. Even if your contact information hasn’t changed, it’s a good idea to double-check that your correct information is included in the microchip registry.

Checking a chip’s registration information is easy, and can mean the difference between heartbreak and a happy family reunion if you ever get separated from your pet. The American Veterinary Medical Association maintains a website with easy-to-follow instructions at AVMA.org/CheckTheChip.

To check and update a registration, you’ll need your pet’s microchip number. If you don’t have that easily accessible at home, we’ll be happy to scan your pet’s chip for you!  Not even sure if your pet is chipped?

Come to our ”Check your Chip and Dip Party” Saturday August 13th

between 1 and 4 pm.

  •  Chip Check, Chip Database checks, Update your contact info
  • Microchipping for pets who aren’t already chipped.
    • The Home Again lifetime database registration costs $19.99
    • Microchips are only $15.00!
  • Pokemon themed Costume Contest for Pets (There happens to be a Gym right next door to us for those who are interested…)
  • Chips and Dips for Pet Parents
  • Treats for Pets
  • Special Appearance by FrankieZ, our family Hedgehog, between 2pm and 3pm

Microchips help reunite families. We hope to see you on the 13th!

 

This time of year can be terrifying for dogs and their owners.  sOwners are distraught as their usually happy-go-lucky canine companions cower under desks and in closets.  Stalwart furry friends try to climb into their owners’ laps at the first hint of a storm.  Owners lose nights of sleep trying to comfort their dogs, sleeping with them on the floor.  It’s a hard time for everyone!

Fortunately, there are some things that can help.  Finding the right trick(s) to help your anxious dog, and using them consistently, will not only help this year, but will help him to learn that storms and the sounds of distant fireworks are not actually as dangerous as he thinks.

  • Provide a quiet, dark place deep in your house where your dog can retreat when he is frightened. A dark closet with a blanket and a favorite toy may be all that some dogs need.
  • Try not to coddle your frightened dog. It’s very natural for us to want to hold and comfort our pets when they are afraid, but excessive “reassurance” only programs frightened animals that their fearful behavior gets rewarded by their owners.  Instead, try distracting your pet with a favorite game or toy in the early stages of anxiety, before panic sets in.

    Busy Buddy Twist and Treat

 My own Coonhound was terrified of the “Thunder God”.  She would run back and forth through our yard barking at the sky through the entire pre-storm, storm and after storm.  She would break out of the yard to chase down the Thunder God if she could.  She would exhaust herself, verging on heat stroke once!  But, if I gave her a cream cheese filled Twist and Treat at the first sign of her compulsive anxiety behavior, she settled right down!  She would spend 45 minutes working on her food toy, then sit contentedly in the family room throughout the rest of the storm!  I wish I’d found that “magic solution” earlier in her life!! ~ Dr. Deb Bohnke

  • Anxiety Wraps and Thundershirts™ are snug fitting coats that soothe many dogs through a swaddling effect.  You may not be there to hug your anxious dog, but his coat can!

 

  • Sileo® is a the only FDA approved medication for noise phobias in dogs.  It was just released in May, 2016.  It is a gel, delivered into a dog’s cheek pouch with a pre-measured pipette.  It causes relaxation and drowsiness within about 30 minutes.  The effects last several hours.  It is intended as an “on demand” medication, being administered (preferably) prior to an anxiety-provoking event.

Prescription Anxiolytics like Sileo® are not the same as tranquilizers (the most common of which is Acepromazine).  Anxiolyics are better!  Anxiolytics help prevent the chemical cascade in the brain that leads to fear, helping dogs learn that the “scary” noise is not so scary.  Tranquilizers do nothing to eliminate the fear. They just cause sleepiness, giving  owners a false sense of comfort.  While both types of medication may result in a pet that acts more relaxed, tranquilizers don’t help pets learn to cope with their anxiety.  The phobia still gets worse over time.

Ask your vet about Sileo® or other oral ‘Anxiolytic” medications that can be prescribed.  Not every medication works as well for every pet, so there may be a period of trial and error.  Don’t use human medications without consulting your vet as dogs require different doses than people for safety and effectiveness.  Inocrrect dosing of anxiety prevention medication can actually Increase anxiety in some pets, resulting a worse state of panic!

If your dog suffers from Thunderstorm Phobia or Fireworks Phobia, contact your vet now for help.  Don’t wait for the storms to start.  It makes a lot of sense to try an Anxiety Wrap or some medication before your pup goes into panic mode so you will now what will help when you need it!

o-BABY-HEDGEHOG-570

Behavior:

Hedgehogs tend to be shy, solitary creatures that are generally nocturnal (active at night). Many prefer quiet, dim environments and are frightened by loud noise and bright light. They like to hide and dig and have a well developed sense of smell. They try to “taste” new things in their environments by salivating and spitting onto themselves − a process called “anointing” or “anting.

Hedgehogs are covered by short, pointy spines. While young hedgehogs usually do not mind being held, adults often roll up into tight balls as a defense if they have not been well- socialized. Adults may also make a hissing sound when they are afraid. With quiet stroking of the spines over the back in dim light, a curled up hedgehog may uncurl. The more a hedgehog is handled, the tamer it is likely to become.

  •    Hedgehogs live 6-10 years in captivity with proper nutrition and wellness care!
  •    They can be fertile by 2 months of age, but females should not be bred until they are 6 months. For more on breeding go to http://www.hedgehogclub.com/breeding.html .

Housing:

Hedgehogs can be housed in smooth-walled enclosures (such as aquariums, 20 gallon capacity or greater) with sides high enough to prevent escape. They can also be housed in plastic bottom enclosures with coated wire sides and top, such as those made for rabbits or guinea pigs. Cages with wire sides and tops have much better ventilation than aquariums and are therefore healthier for hedgehog’s respiratory systems. Do not house hedgehogs in cages with wire floor or with wire “ladders” as their feet could easily become trapped and and injured in the wire.  Click Here for more suggestions.

Hedgehogs are not good climbers and care should be taken to ensure they live in a one level environment. Exercise wheels should be provided.  They should be completely solid to prevent feet and spines getting caught in wires or holes. Hedgehogs are prone to obesity in captivity and providing them with a safe method to exercise is critical.

A recycled paper product such as Care Fresh(R) is a good bedding. Bedding should be several inches thick to enable digging and should be kept clean and dry.  You can also use fleece or flannel squares that can be changed out and washed daily.  Wood shavings and soil are not recommended, as they are dusty, indigestible, and may contain parasites. They are also dangerous to hedgie eyes and respiratory systems.

Hedgehogs should be provided with a hide box, a shallow water pan for bathing and a litter box with pelleted paper product for litter.  Tubes may be used to enrich their environment and provide varied resting places.  For more on housing needs Click Here.

In the wild, hedgehogs do not hibernate. However, in captivity they may hibernate if their environmental temperature falls below 65 degrees.  As hedgehogs do not appear to have a need to hibernate, and hibernating may be detrimental to them, it is ideal to keep them at a constant temperature throughout the year of approximately 70-80°F, as well as to keep them on a 12 hour light cycle.

Handling:

    Hedgehogs are, by nature, curious, active foragers.  They should be taken out of their enclosures every day for exercise and social interaction. They should never be left unsupervised, as they may chew on toxic substances or be attacked by other predatory pets, such as cats and dogs, or injured by small children.

Watch this Video of Hedgehog playing with a kitty jingle ball!

 

Nutrition:

Hedgehogs are in the insectivore family; however in the wild their diet includes insects, snails, worms, as well as occasional small vertebrates (like mice) and plants. They should be fed once daily in the evening from heavy dishes that do not tip over easily. A good quality commercial pelleted hedgehog diet or low-fat dry cat food (Royal Canin(R) Lite Indoor food for Cats) make a good base for their diet. Each day, an adult hedgehog can be fed 2 tablespoons of a hedgehog diet or cat food, along with 1-2 tablespoons of fresh vegetables. They also require a few insects (mealworms, crickets, snails, other invertebrates) 3-4 times a week. Since hedgehogs are very prone to obesity, feeding unlimited quantities of food or feeding high fat foods (such as seeds and nuts, or waxworms) is highly discouraged. Fresh water from a bowl should be offered every day.  Some hedgies will use a bottle, but not all.

Healthcare:

Newly purchased hedgies should visit to an exotic animal veterinarian for a good over-all well-health check and a  dose of mite medication, as mite infestations are common.  Take a fresh sample of stool (poop) to your vet for an intestinal parasite check, as well.

Hedgehogs should be examined once a year by your veterinarian. Diet and environment should be reviewed. Hedgehogs should be weighed at least annually to ensure they are not becoming obese. They should receive a complete physical examination, including a thorough check of their teeth, as they are prone to dental disease. It is best if your veterinarian briefly anesthetizes your hedgie for a complete oral exam.  Dental scaling may be necessary if they have excessive tartar.  Hedgehogs can also be prone to hepatic lipidosis (fatty infiltration of the liver), cancer (especially oral cancer), respiratory infections, and certain neurologic conditions (Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome).

Proper preventative medicine can help avoid the development of disease and ensure the lifelong health of your hedgehog.

Another great Hedgie Care link

 

IHA Logo

 

Dr. Debra  is now a member of the International Hedgehog Association!

“The IHA is a registered charitable non-profit organization established with the purpose of educating the public in the care and betterment of hedgehogs and to facilitate the rescue, welfare, promotion and care of hedgehogs everywhere.IHReg logo

The International Hedgehog Registry is now a part of the IHA.  We encourage Owners to register their Hedgehogs to help us better track health trends and hereditary traits.  It is our hope that over time this will aid breeders in improving the quality of the species, and provide owners and breeders with lineage information.

Hedgehog ShowsThe IHA is active in the promotion of hedgehog shows and educational seminars as a means of bringing together and educating hedgehog lovers and fanciers.  The IHA sanctions shows across the United States and Canada every year, bringing hedgehogs and fanciers together in a friendly spirit of competition and friendship

 

 

We encourage and support rescue through our rescue licensing program, ensuring quality care and placement of rescues throughout North America and Europe.  As well, IHA sponsored funding campaigns help to keep hedgehog rescues running.

The IHA Vet ForumThe IHA’s research activities have included studies on diet, nutrition and appropriate medication.”

We’ve just installed our new Digital Radiology system!

Digital Radiograph (top) vs "Regular" Radiograph (bottom)

Digital Radiograph (top) vs “Regular” Radiograph (bottom)

Now we can take better radiographs, providing more accurate in-house diagnoses!  If our Doctors see something suspicious, digital radiographs can be sent, electronically, to a Board Certified Radiologist for consultation with a click or the keyboard!  This makes Radiology second opinions faster and easier than every before!

All at no additional cost to our clients!

Cimarron Animal Hospital – continuously improving to provide better, safer, more compassionate medicine for pets who are people too!

 

 

“…oral administration of live nonpathogenic organisms can result in improved GI health and immune system function, and growing evidence supports potential therapeutic benefits in diverse disease conditions (eg, chronic GI abnormalities, allergic disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity, liver disease, mood and behavior disorders).”  Clinician’s Brief- Marcella D. Ridgway, VMD, MS, DACVIM University of Illinois.

Probiotics are “happy gut bacteria”.  They have traditionally been used for pets with gastrointestinal diseases causing chronic diarrhea.  New studies indicate that daily probiotics help over-all immune system function, decrease inflammation, even stabilize metabolism.   This makes sense since 75% of the immune system lines our guts!

New Uses for Probiotics

  • Reduce inflammatory marker levels in dogs with allergies.    (This is a very active area of study in the human arena!)
  • Improve growth rates and vaccine responses in puppies.
  • Lower cholesterol in normal dogs and dogs with intestinal disease.
  • Reduce numbers of diarrhea-causing bacteria in the feces of dogs.
  • Reduce symptoms of Feline Herpes Virus-1 infection.
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Obesity
  • Liver disease
  • Mood and behavior disorders (another very active area in human medicine!)

Criteria for a “Good” Probiotic product for pets

Probiotics for pets are available through veterinarians.  It’s IMPORTANT to use pet probiotic isolates as they are different from the “happy gut bacteria” in humans.   Additionally,  an appropriate Probiotic product meets the following criteria:

  • Nonpathogenic ( will not cause disease on its own)
  • Remains viable during large-scale production and storage
  • Survives transit through the GI tract (exposure to gastric acid, bile)
  • Adheres to and colonizes gut epithelium
  • Shows a beneficial effect on host

There are 3 veterinary products that meet label claims :

Products Meeting Label Claims

  • Proviable-DC (nutramaxlabs.com), synbiotic ( contains both beneficial strains of probiotics AND prebiotics- nutrition to feed the happy bacteria!)
  • FortiFlora (purina.com), Enterococcus faecium SF68
  • Prostora (iams.com), Bifidobacterium animalis

If your pet suffers from recurrent or chronic diarrhea, chronic infection (Valley Fever?), or any of the conditions listed above, ask your veterinarian for one of the probiotic products above.