Respiratory infections attack the breathing passages of your hedgehog, from the lungs to the snout. They’re best treated when they have been identified early so you can pre-empt the worst symptoms of the infection.
To first treat any respiratory issues in your pet hedgehog, you need to find out what’s wrong. Respiratory infections can come from viruses or bacteria, which change the severity of the infection.
It could be a mild issue but it could also be laryngitis, rhinitis, tracheitis, or even pneumonia. Pneumonia is often caused by bacteria that hedgehogs catch from canines, so keep them separate and keep any dogs vaccinated against kennel cough.
As for what causes these infections:
- Unsanitary bedding.
- Lack of ventilation in the cage.
- A pre-existing oral infection has been aspirated.
- Environmental temperature.
You can identify a respiratory infection in your hedgehog through many different symptoms, the most common of which is sneezing and opaque mucus discharge from the nose. The discharge can accumulate on the front legs too.
Sneezing can also occur naturally, especially if their bedding is made from paper or is otherwise dusty. Some hedgehogs also have allergies that cause them to sneeze at seemingly random intervals.
Other symptoms include shortness of breath, labored breathing, and changes in the sounds that the hedgehog makes. They may also lose their appetite and their thirst for water and they may be lethargic, too.
If unnoticed or untreated, the problem may present itself when the hedgehog suddenly dies. This is why you must seek help as soon as you realize something is wrong with your hedgehog.
Even if the treatments don’t work and the hedgehog succumbs to the illness, you will at least have peace of mind and won’t wonder why the hedgehog suddenly died.
Diagnosis is simple and done by professional veterinarians who have access to X-ray and examination equipment.
As for treatment, they typically get antibiotics, primarily trimethoprim, Amoxycillin, penicillin, lincomycin, clavulanic acid, or oxytetracycline. Antibiotics can take multiple dose cycles to fully clear the infection.
Hedgehogs may not like receiving these medications, especially since they taste bad a lot of the time.
In those cases, antibiotic injections may be more suitable. In other cases, the hedgehog may be hospitalized at the vet so they can manage its needs properly by feeding and hydrating it and adding antibiotics during those treatments.
Subcutaneous fluids may also be needed if the hedgehog is dehydrated and a nebulizer or other forms of assisted breathing may be used. You can buy nebulizers and use them yourself at home but qualified professionals will always get the best results with specialized equipment like that.
As for what you can do to prevent these issues, you should keep hedgehogs isolated for two weeks when they are new to the household. Keep their area clean, free of dust, and well ventilated, too.
In getting ventilation, avoid drafts as these can also cause respiratory issues. The cage temperature for a hedgehog should be approximately 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit or 23 to 29 degrees Celsius.
Keep the cage warmer than colder if you can help it, it’s better for the hedgehog that way.
Can Hedgehogs Survive Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a serious condition for many mammals, including humans, so it’s concerning when a pet hedgehog develops this harmful disease.
With hedgehogs, it’s often contracted via a canine that has kennel cough or through having too many lungworms that restrict breeding and give rise to other infections that harm the critter.
Given its severity, pneumonia is very challenging to properly treat. You should know that, if they are suffering from pneumonia, then there is no guarantee the hedgehog will make a full recovery.
The likelihood of the hedgehog succumbing to the illness is still quite high, even with treatment, and should they survive they may have lung scarring that shortens their breaths and makes them vulnerable to future infections.
Like the other respiratory issues mentioned above, hedgehogs are primarily treated with antibiotics. The specific antibiotic that is chosen will depend on your hedgehog’s situation and the discretion of the veterinarian.
Since pneumonia is hard to treat, you’re better off seeking the help of your veterinarian and other qualified individuals who can accurately diagnose the illness and carry out the most effective treatments.
The surest way to ensure a hedgehog survives pneumonia is to stop them from contracting it in the first place.
Keep their dwellings clean and free of dust and isolate them from the rest of the household for two weeks to prevent the onset of respiratory issues, including pneumonia.