Using a nebuliser to treat a hedgehog with pneumonia

Standard

Like humans, hedgehogs can contract pneumonia. Often it is linked to having a high lungworm burden. As the name suggests, this parasite lives in the lungs and can cause severe breathing problems and secondary infections.

Pneumonia can be incredibly challenging to treat. Not all hedgehogs that are treated will make a full recovery. Pneumonia can leave hedgehogs with short or long term scarring of the lungs. Some will always be weaker as a result and more prone to future infections.

Last year I was kindly donated a nebuliser. It helps to treat breathing problems, including those linked to pneumonia. It is an ordinary human nebuliser but I have built a plastic tank to hold the hedgehog and into which the nebuliser tubes are inserted.

IMG_2674

The nebuliser (right) and plastic chamber (left). It is a bird food container into which a hole has been cut for the nebuliser tube and a couple of small holes for the vapour to escape

The hedgehog will spend a few minutes receiving the nebuliser treatment, several times each day. I use an antiseptic treatment in the nebuliser called F10.

IMG_2675

Hedgehog inside the nebuliser chamber

Alongside the nebuliser treatment, the hedgehog will also receive a number of other medications and treatments depending upon the nature of its breathing problems. If it has a high burden of lung parasites, those will be treated. A long course of antibiotics may be required for pneumonia and other infections. Decongestant/expectorant drugs may also be used to help the hedgehog breathe more easily, along with pain relief.

A few drops of olbas oil on bedding can also help hedgehogs with minor breathing problems.

Sadly the hedgehog in this video did not survive but I have successfully rehabilitated another hedgehog with pneumonia. Following a very long course of treatment, she was eventually released to a secure garden (due to having suffered a number of other issues and therefore being very vulnerable if released fully to the wild) where she has thrived.

If you find a hedgehog that is having breathing problems, it is vital to get it to a vet or hedgehog rescue urgently. Breathing problems can be caused by a range of things including lungworm, pneumonia and also injuries, such as punctured/collapsed lungs. Urgent medication and pain relief is vital along with x-rays to check for injuries.

I run a hedgehog hospital in York. Equipment like this nebuliser is vital to help sick and injured hedgehogs but can be very costly. You can find out more about what running a hedgehog rescue involves and how to support my work here.

Harry hedgehog – media star!

Hoglet
Standard

Harry the hedgehog was a media star this morning when we were interviewed by BBC Radio York.

William2

You can listen to the interview via the following link – scroll to 1.50 and 2.44 for my interviews. I’d love to know what you think.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05r2p2w

I run a  hedgehog rescue in York. My work is entirely self funded and you can find out more about how to support my work here.

Hedgehog wound treatment

Hoglet with facial injury
Standard

Octavia is being treated for a nasty facial wound that has sadly become infected. I’m sorry for the graphic nature of these pictures but this is the kind of reality that wildlife rescues face on a daily basis.

I wish hedgehogs could talk and that I knew the cause of the wound. This one is possibly a strimmer or bite wound. Sadly, the wound has got infected and the skin underneath is dying (necrotic). She has an abscess in the neck area on the same side that you can’t see in this picture.

IMG_2926

Octavia when she arrived and prior to any treatment

Upon arrival, hedgehogs are checked to assess the nature of their wounds. They will also go through a range of other checks to assess their size, weight, general health and whether they have internal or external parasites.

Some hedgehogs will immediately be taken to a vet for treatment if the wound is very severe. Many will require x-ray to ascertain the extent of any damage and infection. With any wound, it is possible that an impact may have caused bones to break. Abscesses can also track deep into the bone. Many of these things are beyond the skills of a hedgehog rescue, who must always work closely with a vet.

Depending on the nature of the wound, it may also require draining. This is done by a vet using a syringe/scalpel to draw out the infected pus. The hedgehog is usually ‘gassed down’ for this procedure.

IMG_2932

Octavia after 5 days of treatment

I clean wounds using a mix of hibiscrub (an antibacterial fluid used in surgery) in a warm saline solution. This softens the scabs and aids their removal. It also cleans and sterilises the wound. Hedgehogs are obviously wild creatures and wounds may have picked up all kinds of dirt and debris.

IMG_2948

Some of the wound treatments I use

The treatment for wounds like this takes a long time. This wound is being cleaned regularly to soften the scabs and to keep it sterile. I alternate the application of various different topical treatments to the area beneath the scabs. In this case, I am alternating between a wound gel and veterinary grade manuka honey. These help to clear the infection and to promote healing.

Depending on the nature of the injury, pain relief may also be required as well as antibiotics. Octavia is receiving a special antibiotic that is very good at treating open wounds and abscesses. She will receive this for at least 7 days.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York. My work is entirely self funded. You can find out more about how to support my work here.

 

Hedgehog with foot injuries

Hedgehog with foot injuries
Standard

Meet Legolas. He looks gorgeous and bright eyed but this was not the case when he arrived into my hedgehog rescue.

Sadly, I am seeing an increasing number of hedgehogs coming into rescue with foot and leg injuries. If only hedgehogs could talk and then I would know for sure what had caused them. I do know that they face many dangers out there in the wild. They can get attacked by foxes or dogs. They can get their feet trapped in things including the log edging that is popular for use around borders. Road traffic accidents can cause broken legs.

 

IMG_7246

Legolas arrived with both feet badly swollen and infected. He also had a large wound on his left hand side. He smelt strongly of infection.

Legolas injured feet on arrival

On arrival, I washed his wounds with antibacterial agent mixed with saline solution. Legolas was then treated over many weeks with antibiotics, pain relief (with added anti-infammatory ingredient) and daily topical would treatments.

Legolas with feet almost healed

It took months but you will see above that his feet eventually started to fully heal. He lost a few nails during the treatment but most eventually regrew. On release, he was only missing one nail – where the nail bed had been destroyed.

Legolas was lucky and he managed to keep his legs. Others are not so lucky. This is Rupert. He arrived with half a leg missing and just a stump left behind. He could not be left like this. The stump would drag on the ground and keep opening up the wound. He would be at risk of constant pain and infection. The only option for Rupert was amputation of the remainder of the stump.

Stump leg

It is hard to prevent these injuries but you can do your bit by keeping your dog under control in areas where there are hedgehogs and not letting them out at night. Take a close look at your garden and check for potential hazards, such as gaps between log roll edging or holes that a hedgehog could fall into and get injured.

If you do spot a limping hedgehog, seek urgent help. Fresh injuries are easier to treat before they become infected.

Leg injuries are also amongst the most expensive things for a hedgehog rescue to treat. They require many weeks of drugs and wound treatment. Amputations also have to be paid for, along with antibiotics to prevent infection. You can support my work here or by purchasing my handmade silver jewellery.

Please join me in wishing Legolas a safe return to the wild.

Thank you for reading!

Hedgehog leg amputation – three legged hedgehog

Standard

Meet Rupert. He arrived with me a couple of months ago as a small hoglet. He was only 300g. When I inspected him I could smell that something wasn’t right. Wildlife rescuers go a lot by smell – you get to know the smell of infection and poo that is not normal. I often know something is wrong before I see it. On closer inspection I could see that Rupert was missing half of his rear back leg and it was infected.

15419763_1147191685318530_4833852908880234391_o

Gorgeous Rupert has such a lovely nature despite the challenges posed by his stump leg

I’ll never know what caused Rupert to lose his leg but it is possible that it was a fox or dog attack. I have been caring for him for several months to get him fit and healthy. As well as a stump leg, he was also full of internal parasites, like many Autumn juvenile hedgehogs.

Despite intensive treatment, Rupert’s stump did not heal fully (although the infection cleared) and it opened up whenever he tried to walk any distance. It was impossible for him to return to the wild in this state. The stump would get infected and cause pain and suffering.

Once he got to a good weight and parasite free, I took him for an amputation to remove the remaining stump.

15697586_10154819598074859_9021487673157341979_n-1

The stump has never fully healed and opens up when he walks any distance

Rupert is now on bed rest whilst he recovers from the operation and will return in two weeks to have the stitches removed.

What next for Rupert? Well, assuming there are no complications, the next stage will be the difficult bit. There are mixed views about returning 3 legged hedgehogs to the wild. Some say they can survive okay. They can certainly still move fast with 3 legs. Others say that they cannot groom properly and will be more susceptible to things like ticks. So…. next for me will be to find my personal resolution for the dilemma of whether to release him fully back to the wild or to an enclosed garden where he will be safe but will not be able to contribute towards maintaining the hedgehog population.

What would you do?

My work is entirely self-funded and I have to pay for operations like amputations as well as antibiotics and pain relief post operation. I will also have to pay again for him to have the stitches removed. I believe it is worth it to give him a second chance of life. You can support my work at www.littlesilverhedgehog.etsy.com.

You can also make a donation here.

I’ll share more news about Rupert as he hopefully recovers….

Update May 2017

Rupert’s wound got infected not long after his operation. After a course of antibiotics, he was eventually well enough to return to nature. Due to the amount of intensive care during his rehabilitation, I decided to release him to an enclosed garden. He is now safe in a half acre garden where he can be monitored.

Rupert.JPG

Rupert on his release day

Save