View Full Version : Possible MBD

10-29-2010, 09:08 AM
Hi all,
I recently had the opportunity to help a baby squirrel that had been orphaned. I started out to just raise Darcy until she was old enough to be re-released. However I have run into alot of complications in the past couple weeks. Up until recently she was a normal, strong, active squirrel, but recently she has lost her appetite and become very lethargic. Not to mention she has started having seizures (3 that I know of.) I have brought her to a vet that specialized in exotic/small animals since the beginning and have been following her direction as to what to feed her and so on. Now, since reading the information on this site, I am almost positive that she is suffering from MBD, even though the vet is hesitant to diagnose her (which in all honesty is making me extremely upset, my poor Darcy is in pain!) Her back right leg seems to be swollen and she can't walk on it properly, this happened yesterday morning. She also has lost her appetite. I can't get her to eat anything other than a grape here and there, but I have been able to get here to take some of the mothers milk I feed her when she was still a baby. I followed the directions on this site and gave her 500mg of calcium over the span of the day and night yesterday, and she seems to be coming out of the lethargic stage, but she still is off. Not to mention her leg! Since the beginning, the vet has said to keep the majority of her diet nuts and seeds. She said that Squirrel feed was fine, I have also been giving her fruits and veggies and she seems to like radishes, grapes, bell peppers and strawberries. My question is what can I do to help her? I am bringing her to the vet again this morning to look at her leg and to see what else the vet says. My faith in this vet is waning, but I don't know what else to do. There are no other vets in the area that I can find to treat poor Darcy.
She is about 12 weeks old and is a Eastern Grey Squirrel. Please help!

10-29-2010, 09:26 AM
Hello :Welcome
I believe you found TSB in the nick of time....There are lots of rehabbers and very knowledgeable members here and Im sure one will be with you shortly with information for you. As little as I do know, I think your vet is way off base and you are correct about MBD. What kind of formula has your baby been on and how old is he/she?
Hopefully one of the experts will be here soon to help you. Glad you found this sight, the people here are wonderful! Keep up the calcium!! Can you maybe post this in the Emergency section? MBD is very dangerous and help may be quicker if you post there.....:)

10-29-2010, 09:35 AM
Treatment of MBD is ongoing, so continue with the MBD treatment you are giving her. Make sure she is half on heat. Unfortunately, many still say 'nuts, seeds etc' when it comes to squirrels, which is so wrong. What type of formula did you feed her? Do you give her any type of rodent block? That should be part of her diet, as well. (Or even better, you can order HHB'S...look in the squirrel nutrition section). Offer her some full fat yogurt (vanilla seems to be a fav). I am sure others will chime in soon.

10-29-2010, 09:47 AM
I haven't given her any rodent block, but I am on my way out the door to get her some. The brand of milk replacement is KMR, by Pet AG. She is approximately 12 weeks old. I'm really worried about her leg, are there any squirrel rehabbers in the NOLA area that anyone knows of? I really appreciate you guys' help.

10-29-2010, 09:50 AM
I hate to be harsh but at least diet wise, your vet is completely wrong. That a single day of additional calcium has made some difference is pretty conclusive. The period after they begin to refuse formula is particularly dangerous for MBD if they are not eating a rat block of some kind to provide them with the calcium and magnesium they need to live.

You need to continue with the calcium treatment and there are multiple "stickies" - posts that stay at the top of the page - in the MBD forum and the nutritional forum that spell out how to do this. Don't give the calcium all at once; try to spread it out throughout the day so as to keep the level in the body somewhat even. I also very strongly suggest you provide a heating pad for your squirrel - this condition makes their bones ache and the heat if very soothing - almost all of them will seek it out to sleep on if it is made available.

In addition to the calcium treatment, your squirrel needs to get OOF of seeds completely and have nuts severely limited - a couple a day at most. She needs to eat a rat block of some kind. Some options:

Mazuri makes a rat block that is available online (google it) and is also carried by Petsmart.

Harlan Teklad makes a lab block sold through www.craftyrat.com.

www.henryspets.com makes Henry's Healthy Bites.

Regal Rat blocks are available from Drs. Foster & Smith, also online.

Having been fed a diet of nuts, suddenly being presented with healthy foods will be as popular as taking your kid off pizza and giving him brussels sprouts. Here is a way to get her eating a good diet without knowing it! Make Boo Balls. Grind up some of the rodent block of your choice. Mix equal parts of the ground rodent block and dry milk formula powder and add about 1/3 to 1/2 part ground nut of your choice (most use pecans; I prefer hazelnuts or almonds because they are healthier). Blend with enough fruity baby food, applesauce, or yogurt to turn it the consistency of cookie dough, and roll it into little balls about the size of a chick pea. Most squirrels LOVE these and they secretly have the things they need to survive in them. It also gets them used to the taste of rodent block so eventually they will eat them by themselves.

Read the info on MBD and then come back for any questions. Keep up with the calcium and you should continue to see improvement.

10-29-2010, 05:06 PM
So I got the rodent block and made the Boo Boo Balls and she loved them! I'm now at the vet getting a tox screen to verify if indeed it's a calcium deficiancy...I'll keep u guys posted:) Thank you for all of you help!

10-29-2010, 05:54 PM
Keep us posted, prayers continue.

10-30-2010, 01:05 AM
So... according to the vet tox screen, she is a healthy little squirrel.... but i'm not convinced, she has a bum leg and now hasn't eaten since this morning and won't... not to mention she is just laying in her cage... is there anything else this could be? Her bowel movements are irregular, she just pooped for the first time since yesterday. And she just wants to sleep... I feel so bad knowing that she's feeling bad:( I'm going to continue to give her calcium, she seems to do well once she gets a dose or two in her, but i seem to have to force her to eat and drink... I don't know what to do...

10-30-2010, 05:43 AM
Continue with the calcium. I believe you would have to do x-ray or bone density testing to see it at a vets. Keep up the supplemental heat.

Will she take formula from a syringe like a baby? If so, that is wonderful - do that to give her both formula and liquids (you can add a bit of apple juice to her water to make it tastier). MBD makes you feel lousy. Vet visits are very traumatizing. Both will put them off food.

If she likes the boo balls, you can also do the same thing but make them soupy by adding water until the stuff is the texture of oatmeal and offer it to her on a spoon, warm. Warm up the boo balls, too - just pop them in the micro for 10 seconds or so before you give them to her. I think if you can support her with this type of feeding and do the calcium - and this will take MONTHS not days - they will start feeling better fairly quickly but you have to continue treatment for a long time - she will get better.

We have a member here named Gina who's squirrel was paralyzed - vet was treating for spine injury...it was MBD. Gina did the MBD treatment, and it took a while but he is a healthy, happy squirrel now.

Be patient and keep it up. You cannot do it for a day or two and stop.

10-30-2010, 08:23 AM
Good Morning DARCY, how is our little Furr-Ball this morning. Try offering small pieces of Cheese-for added calcium.
My guy, Rama Rota prefers Cheddar & Muenster

10-30-2010, 09:38 AM
On top of what is going on, she could be dehydrated, esp. if she is not intaking enough fluids. Anyway you can get some sub'q fluid in here? What kind of 'screen' did he do? Short of an xray, I can't imagine anything they could do to check it. Did he draw blood? Could she have actually fallen and injured her leg somehow w/o you knowing? Maybe adding some pain meds in, but you will need to make sure she is well hydrated. Metacam may help w/pain, but again, must be well hydrated to use that. Maybe an xray might not be a bad idea, if it seems to be predominantly her leg that is affecting her?

10-30-2010, 10:04 AM
So... according to the vet tox screen, she is a healthy little squirrel.... but i'm not convinced, she has a bum leg and now hasn't eaten since this morning and won't... not to mention she is just laying in her cage... is there anything else this could be? Her bowel movements are irregular, she just pooped for the first time since yesterday. And she just wants to sleep... I feel so bad knowing that she's feeling bad:( I'm going to continue to give her calcium, she seems to do well once she gets a dose or two in her, but i seem to have to force her to eat and drink... I don't know what to do...

With MBD, typically the blood work will be normal, i.e., normal calcium levels, sometimes slightly elevated phosphorus. The only way to diagnose is with x-rays compared with those of a normal animal.

Appetite is very depressed with MBD, so getting healthy foods, calcium, etc., into the squirrel is a battle at first. Keep it up and once she's feeling better, her appetite will improve and it will get easier. Make sure you read the Emergency Treatment for MBD and the Long-Term Treatment for MBD. The instructions are fairly detailed....

10-30-2010, 05:07 PM
Hi guys!
So she is doing better this morning. She actually is moving around much more than she was last night. She will still take the formula via syringe and thats the only thing she will eat for the most part, not even her favorite, grapes! I have been adding the calcium to her formula to get her to take it and that seems to be working pretty well. I'll keep you guys posted on how she is doing. Again thanks for all of your help and support!

10-30-2010, 05:22 PM
Well, you are very lucky - she is chosing to eat the perfect food for her problem. Do read the instructions on MBD treatment, and make sure you don't fall into the two most common traps:

"If a little is good a lot is better." No, it isn't. You must resist the almost overwhelming urge to start sprinkling tons of calcium on everything! Too much can also cause issues.

Don't assume you can stop treatment when she begins to act normally. Prey animals are hard wired to act healthy when they aren't, and once they start getting the calcium they need, the start to feel pretty good. If you do, she will relapse. Eventually you CAN stop - her bones will have caught back up and her diet will be supplying all that she needs, but that will take a while.

Please keep us posted - if you keep letting us know how she is acting, many of the people on here can spot things before they become a problem. I am so glad she is feeling better!

10-30-2010, 05:24 PM
It would be even better if you could order some fox valley formula and mix that in with the KMR (KMR doesnt provide the right nutrition for squirrels, though its a bit late to be doing a full change-over now as she should be weaned sometime soon). The fox valley works wonders and is so good for them! (Not to mention tasty!) You can find it at: http://foxvalleynutrition.com/main/home.asp

Of course, thats in addition to any recommended courses of treatments, not in place of, but Im sure it will help as it is much better for her!

Im glad shes improving! Keep us updated and never stop asking questions! The people here are amazing, knowledgeable and sooooo helpful :Love_Icon

11-01-2010, 07:11 PM
Ok so an update on my little Darcy (aka Pooper she has been pooping up a storm:) ) anyhow she is still pretty larthargic but she will walk around even run a little, but not for long and not for distances. I'm ordering the fox valley as soon as I get home. She will eat the formula, a few almonds and some cereal (special k) so I'm optimistic about her feeling a little better... But I know we have a long way to go:/ the vet thinks that she has a neuriogocal problem and that is what has caused the seizures, so she prescribed phenibarbitol... I'm not sure how I feel about feeding this medicine to her when I've seen the way she has been lately with the increased calcium in her diet.

island rehabber
11-01-2010, 07:31 PM
I would not give her something as strong as pheno until you watch to see what the right diet will do for her! Pheno is a last resort for severe seizures and neurological damage.....if her seizures were from MBD they will not return so long as her calcium continues to improve.


11-01-2010, 07:41 PM
Has she had seizures since you started calcium treatment? If that answer is no, hold on the pheno. Seizures are one of the MBD symptoms...

11-02-2010, 12:20 PM
That's what I was thinking... She hasn't had a seizure since I started the calcium regiment... I'm still worried about her appitite... I can't get her to eat much of anything... She's even getting tired of the formula... Trying to find food she will eat is really hard. I've introduced her to almond butter and have been putting her calcium in the almond butter and slathering it on the rodent block but she just eats around the block as much as she can... As for veggies, forget it she's done with them. Even fruit! I think I will make another trip to the farmers market to see what yummy treat they have that she might like:)

11-02-2010, 01:41 PM
At this point, it is more important to get the calcium and minerals into her than it is to fix her diet - that needs to be done, but the MBD is retarding her appetite right now. If she is starting to reject the FV, spiff it up a little. Stoneyfield makes a full fat yogurt for infants called Tobaby - my squirrel loves the vanilla and banana flavors. You can mix some into her formula. If her weight is dropping from this, get a container of Ensure from the drug or grocery store and mix some of that into the formula - they actually make a pecan flavor.

11-03-2010, 02:21 AM
Another thing that I am worried about is her tail... it doesn't move like it used to and she still has the bum leg. Are these things that may be fixed over time, or is it something that she will have to deal with forever? She can still move around and is starting to hang from her good leg again, but she still favors the bum one. It even looks a bit swollen... the vet said she "didn't feel any broken bones" and she didn't want to do X-rays. I'm thinking I need to find another vet, so far this vet seems to go on what she 'thinks' and she isn't too keen on actually doing the work it takes to find out what is wrong with Darcy. I wish I knew of any other vet in the New Orleans area that could help. So far out of all the vet clinics I have called, all have referred me to this lady. Any suggestions? :/

11-03-2010, 04:21 PM
I can't suggest vets, but I do know that Gina's squirrel (I can't ever remember whether it was Wayne or Garth who had the MBD) was completely paralyzed - dragging himself around from this - she posted pics of him today on their thread and you can't tell there was ever anything wrong with him.

I am not sure about the swelling. MBD makes their bones very weak and brittle, so a break is not out of the question. They usually have to anesthetize them to x-ray them, which is a strain on a system already stressed with the MBD. I would probably keep her in a small cage or carrier to restrict her movement and keep her on the supplemental heat and of course continue with the calcium. If you can get her to take formula, it will provide the additional nutrients she needs.

Bach's Rescue Remedy, available at health food stores, is excellent to calm them and keep stress levels low. A drop on their gums,lips, tongue, and then continue the applications topically in areas without fur - paw pads, ears, under their little arms - there is no worry of overdose, BTW, and it really does work. If she has a broken bone, keeping her as calm and quiet as possible is the answer, and this stuff is GREAT! Get the human RR - they make one for animals that is not as good - and you can use it yourself!