Emergency Treatment for MBD
Get calcium into the squirrel IMMEDIATELY, not later, not tomorrow, NOW.
Delaying treatment can cause death or permanent paralysis.
You will need:
Tums, rolaids, or calcium supplement (any kind)
a syringe or spoon
Crush one pill and add a little water or fruit juice to make a paste. Use the syringe or spoon to force-feed the mixture, a little at a time, until it is all gone.
After you give the initial dose of calcium, give 100 mg calcium every 4 hours. If symptoms return or do not improve, try dosing more often: every 3 hours. Severe cases may need 50 mg calcium every 2 hours.
Your squirrel's symptoms should improve within a few hours; within 1-3 days your squirrel should be alert, active, and eating, with no seizures or paralysis. You should be giving 500-600 mg calcium per day. Keep track of how many doses you give so you can adjust the dosage if needed. You should work with TSB members to do this.
Any kind of calcium pill is okay for the initial dose. But you must use PLAIN calcium carbonate (without Vit D) from then on.
Many small doses of calcium throughout the day/night are best to keep blood calcium levels as steady as possible.
If symptoms worsen or return, give an emergency dose of 100 mg calcium, then consult with TSB members or a rehabber or veterinarian to adjust the dosing schedule. Relapses are very serious and often fatal.
White feces or a white film on dried urine may mean the dosage can be reduced, as this indicates not all of the calcium is being absorbed. It may also mean you need to give smaller doses more often.
The acute symptoms (weakness, lethargy, seizures, paralysis) will usually improve within a few hours, but this does not mean the squirrel is cured. It will take many months to rebuild the calcium in the bones. (See the "Long-Term Treatment for MBD" below.)
MBD causes brittle bones that break easily. You should pad the bottom of your squirrel's cage and keep him away from high places, where he might jump and break a bone.
Heat is very soothing for a squirrel with MBD. A heating pad turned to low and placed so they cannot chew the pad or cord, or a rice buddy (a sock filled with dry rice/beans and microwaved for about 20 seconds) will work. Squirrels with hind-end paralysis may benefit from gentle massage of the legs and hips.
Long-Term Treatment for MBD
The next step to curing MBD is to fix the diet.
1. Remove ALL seeds, nuts, corn, and treats, including stashes.
2. Follow the Healthy Diet For Pet Squirrels, which can be found here: http://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=32046 and on the Henry’s Healthy Pets website (http://www.henryspets.com/pages/Healthy-Diet.html). Your squirrel MUST eat rodent blocks or squirrel blocks every day (either 2 Henry's Healthy Squirrel Blocks per day, or a small handful of commercial rodent block per day). If you choose to feed commercial rodent blocks, which are extremely hard, you should crush them up with peanut butter, yogurt, fruit juice, avocado, baby food, etc., to make them easier to chew and improve the taste.
3. You will need to continue giving extra calcium every day for many weeks. You can use a syringe or spoon, or you can mix the calcium with a small amount of peanut butter, crushed nuts, yogurt, baby food, or any food the squirrel likes. An easy way to dose the calcium is to mix 500 mg of calcium powder with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or other tasty food and roll it into 5 little balls; each ball will contain 100 mg calcium.
Continue to give 500-600 mg calcium per day for 1 week. Then try reducing the total daily amount by 50 mg. If the squirrel remains stable for 1 week, reduce the daily amount by another 50 mg. Continue this weekly reduction until the squirrel is only getting around 100 mg of extra calcium per day. Continue this for at least another 2 weeks. If at any time symptoms return, give an emergency 100 mg dose, then go back to a higher dosage for 1-2 weeks.
The treatment for each squirrel may be slightly different and you should work with a rehabber or TSB members to tailor the treatment to your squirrel's needs. Depending on the age of the squirrel, severity of disease, and other factors, your squirrel may need extra calcium for many months, perhaps for life.
The MBD treatment is a "standardized" treatment that will get most cases on the road to recovery. But every case is different and the treatment should be customized to each squirrel. Severe cases sometimes need more aggressive treatment. There is a limit to how much calcium the body can absorb at one time, so lower doses of calcium given more often is the key with severe cases.
What is MBD?
Calcium is a very important nutrient. It strengthen the bones, but also plays a vital role in all body functions. Every cell in the body contains water plus small amounts of dissolved minerals such as calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium. These minerals allow the cells to transmit small electrical signals. Without this cell-to-cell communication, the organs can't function: your heart can't beat, your nerves can't transmit impulses; in fact, you would die.
When there isn't enough calcium in the diet, the body will dissolve the calcium from the bones and use that instead. This eventually causes the bones to become depleted of calcium. Eventually the bones become so depleted, there isn't enough calcium left to maintain sufficient calcium in the cellular fluids, and the organs can't function properly. This is what causes the symptoms of MBD: loss of appetite, lethargy, muscle pain, paralysis, seizures, and eventually death. Humans don't get this type of severe MBD, partly because our calcium requirement is lower and our bones are much bigger, allowing us to store more calcium.
By giving high doses of calcium orally, you are artificially maintaining your squirrel's blood calcium levels because his bones no longer contain enough calcium to maintain his calcium levels normally.
Once the emergency calcium is given, your squirrel's blood calcium levels should normalize fairly quickly. He should "bounce back" and act normal or almost normal. If you are still seeing symptoms such as seizures, loss of appetite, lethargy, or paralysis, the calcium levels may still be too low. This means the body will try to pull the remaining calcium from the bones, which means the MBD is actually getting worse. So stabilizing blood calcium levels is critical. The next step to actually curing the MBD is rebuilding bone. This is the part that takes a long time.
Stabilizing the blood calcium levels can and must be done quickly. In severe cases, calcium may be needed more often throughout the day and night, as often as every 2 hours.