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Thread: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

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    Default Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    Hello everyone, I apologize in advance for the lengthy post. First a little history on my girl... In April I got a blind baby squirrel (approximately 6 weeks) from a veterinary clinic when she was about to be euthanized since she would never be releasable. I was told she was found in a puddle and had been there for days because no one realized she was alive. Since the day I got her the pupils of her eyes have been solid white and she has had on and off nystagmus along with a slight right sided head tilt, mild head tremor, and an affinity for circling (both directions).

    About a month later, she began having sudden periods of extreme lethargy. One minute completely normal and then an hour later laying down breathing rapidly, blankly staring off into space, and borderline non responsive. Each time I have been sure she is dying but then as quickly as it started she seems back to normal. The first time lasted about a day and each consecutive time has been days longer than the last. After the first episode her back right leg started slipping out from under her and she has had a hard time sitting up. She can go weeks at a time being active and eating well and then suddenly horrible again. More recently I have noticed a very faint clicking noise during this period but it is coming from her skull not her lungs. Within the past couple months I have noticed her sneezing while drinking and seeming to accidentally inhale her formula (fox valley) even if I put down small amounts at a time. Syringe feeding extremely slowly does not seem to help. I have seen milk come out of her nose so I am concerned about aspiration. I have tried checking for a cleft palate but cannot see anything obvious. Both baytril and ciprofloxacin seem to help a bit initially but then make the neuro symptoms worse and she completely refuses food. I give SQ fluids as needed, heated rice bags for comfort, and use a humidifier in her room. With each period of sickness her hind end gets weaker and one time I believe she had a short (10 second) seizure.
    She is currently on smz/tmp and dexamethasone and has been for close to a week. I am also supplementing with calcium in case mbd is a factor. While I have seen some improvement, it is short lived. When I take her out to feed her she is fairly bright and hungry but after a few drops, her nose starts clicking and she acts like she is in a stupor, looks like she feels awful, and refuses all food. I have tried a bulb syringe with her nostrils to see if it helps.

    Current diet when she is feeling well:
    Henry's picky blocks 2 per day
    Free choice rodent block
    Variety of veggies (arugula, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots etc)
    Small bit of fruit per day (apple, banana, cherry)
    Tiny piece of walnut after breakfast and before bed
    Occasional formula though she has started refusing it

    The veterinarians in my area refuse to treat a squirrel since it is not legal to own them in my state. I am at my wits end trying to save my girl. I fear she is suffering and will continue to do so unless I figure out specifically what is wrong with her. Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions? I am willing to drive out of state to see someone knowledgeable but am afraid Florida is too far.

    Thank you very much for any input.

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    Just a word of caution, both baytril and ciprofloxacin will lower a seizure threshold.
    Since your little one has neuro symptoms, I would not use them.

    Hopefully someone can help you with a vet that is close by.

    Thank you for saving this little innocent life.

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    Quote Originally Posted by Nancy in New York View Post
    Just a word of caution, both baytril and ciprofloxacin will lower a seizure threshold.
    Since your little one has neuro symptoms, I would not use them.

    Hopefully someone can help you with a vet that is close by.

    Thank you for saving this little innocent life.
    Thank you, until recently I was not aware and that is why I switched to the smz/tmp. Do you by chance know if difficulty swallowing can potentially be linked with neuro symptoms? I'd like to find out why milk is coming out of her nose, I believe this is a main component of her not feeling well. Also, I have a few veterinary friends since I have worked in the field for many years, however unfortunately they do not have any squirrel experience.

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

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    Here is a picture of her white pupil, one vet who is a friend of a friend suggested that it is likely due to exposure to a common squirrel virus in utero. In case it's helpful to figuring out what may be wrong, does anyone know the cause of eyes like this?

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    What a beautiful and lucky girl! She has a human fighting for her. Could we get a full body pic of her? I just had one who had a cleft palate that was not visible due to how close it was to her top teeth. Try to get a look right behind her teeth if possible.
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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    I had a little one with congenital cateracts. His eyes looked like your baby's. He was also neuro. Duke had a short life but he lived it to the fullest. I hope your little one lives long and well.

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    While SMZ works, it is excruciatingly slow and for possible AP, slow is NOT good. The baytril and cipro are out due to her seizure issues. Have you tried clavamox? Stronger, faster acting than the SMZ without the issues of the other.

    Does she have problems after eating solids or is it just the fluid formula? Wondering if perhaps grinding blocks into a powder and mixing with the formula into a thick gruel like oatmeal might get the nutrition into her without aspirating it. Poor little baby. I hope someone here can perhaps hook you up with a vet.

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    Quote Originally Posted by CritterMom View Post
    While SMZ works, it is excruciatingly slow and for possible AP, slow is NOT good. The baytril and cipro are out due to her seizure issues. Have you tried clavamox? Stronger, faster acting than the SMZ without the issues of the other.

    Does she have problems after eating solids or is it just the fluid formula? Wondering if perhaps grinding blocks into a powder and mixing with the formula into a thick gruel like oatmeal might get the nutrition into her without aspirating it. Poor little baby. I hope someone here can perhaps hook you up with a vet.
    CritterMom, I should be able to get just about any antibiotic I need. Do you think clavamox would be the best? I have read about good results with doxycline but worry about how harsh it will be on her tummy. I currently have amoxicillin, questionable doxy (due to storage temperature) and piperacillin tazobactam. Do you have any experience with piperacillin tazobactam? I have been unable to figure out if it is safe to give orally or SQ. During one episode months ago I gave a few doses IM (which is very scary in such a small creature) when I was waiting for other antibiotics to arrive. I would like to use the antibiotic that will give her the absolute best chance!
    Puddles seems to only have trouble with liquids. I have not tried making a paste, I'll give it a try for her breakfast this morning. Thank you!

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    Quote Originally Posted by SammysMom View Post
    What a beautiful and lucky girl! She has a human fighting for her. Could we get a full body pic of her? I just had one who had a cleft palate that was not visible due to how close it was to her top teeth. Try to get a look right behind her teeth if possible.
    SammysMom, would any particular angle be most helpful? Here are a couple from this weekend, I was trying to let her enjoy some sunshine and vitamin D.

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    Thank you to everyone for the advice and well wishes! I was able to locate and speak with a veterinarian who also happens to be a rehabber and has been caring for squirrels for 30+ years. She believes it sounds like Puddles is having mini seizures so we are going to start her on phenobarb and see if there is any improvement. I'll keep her on antibiotics for any possible upper respiratory infection/pneumonia and when and if she is stable enough, potentially anesthetize her to check for a cleft palate. Until then it is SQ fluids to keep her hydrated, daily chest coupages, antibiotics, steroids, calcium with D3, and lots of love. I will try and keep everyone updated. Thank you again.

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    Hey all, thought I’d stop in and give a quick update on my girl. Puddles is still not normal but is doing much better on her seizure medication. Has anyone seen blue eyes like this in a squirrel? The vet and I both find it peculiar and I am curious if anyone knows what condition can cause this.

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    I’ve never seen it before. Is Puddles an inside squirrel? I ask because it looks like she’s sitting outside in the yard.

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    She is most definitely an inside squirrel. I take her outside on occasion for vitamin d from the sun and to help enrich her life since she seems to really enjoy sniffing around. She is completely blind and neurologic so she could never survive out there!

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    I noticed that you said you're giving calcium and D3. You don't want to give the calcium/D3 for humans. The ratio isn't right for squirrels and D3 can be quite harmful. Better to give veggies and rodent block for the vitamin D she needs.
    She is really very beautiful...
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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    Betsy (Milo's Mom) has a little guy with blue eyes. As I recall his sight is fine and he's releasable. Odd genetics I guess.

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    When they are blue like that, they are severely dehydrated. They will return to normal once why get rehydrated. How long have they been like this?
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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    Quote Originally Posted by Duckman View Post
    When they are blue like that, they are severely dehydrated. They will return to normal once why get rehydrated. How long have they been like this?
    Duckman, it is difficult to recall exactly when they started turning blue, I suppose it has been gradual over maybe 4-5 months. She has always been blind (pupils are solid white) so I thought maybe the change in color had something to do with the blindness. In this case I doubt dehydration is the cause.

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    Quote Originally Posted by Chickenlegs View Post
    Betsy (Milo's Mom) has a little guy with blue eyes. As I recall his sight is fine and he's releasable. Odd genetics I guess.
    Chickenlegs, do you know if his eyes have always been blue? Puddles were normal in color when I got her as a baby (except for the white pupils) and have gradually changed to this strange bluish gray.

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    Quote Originally Posted by SammysMom View Post
    I noticed that you said you're giving calcium and D3. You don't want to give the calcium/D3 for humans. The ratio isn't right for squirrels and D3 can be quite harmful. Better to give veggies and rodent block for the vitamin D she needs.
    She is really very beautiful...
    SammysMom, she is getting a very small amount of liquid calcium with d3 (given to me by a squirrel rehabber who also happens to be a Vet). She also gets Henry’s picky blocks and veggies but to be honest she is a pretty poor eater. With all of her neurological issues, I believe it affects her ability to eat. Sometimes she eats pretty well and other times gets pieces of food stuck in her mouth and I have to help her get it out. Do you think the small amount of liquid calcium is harmful? Her eyes have been this color for months before starting the supplement.

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    Default Re: Desperate, please help. Neuro squirrel

    Quote Originally Posted by 4Puddles View Post
    Chickenlegs, do you know if his eyes have always been blue? Puddles were normal in color when I got her as a baby (except for the white pupils) and have gradually changed to this strange bluish gray.
    As far as I know his eyes are and have always been blue. Apparently no sight issues and at this point he'll be released in the spring

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