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Thread: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

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    Default Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    Petey is a 5 year old ground squirrel. His back legs aren't working very great and he has started having spasms sometimes. He's eating fine and still mostly does okay climbing the sides of his cage.

    He isn't cleaning himself very well though, especially around his squirrel boy parts. I've been trying to clean him with water and a washcloth or qtips when he's asleep enough to let me. This morning I noticed his penis is inflamed and looks like it make have a sore on the side of it. I used a syringe with water to rinse it off since touching it kept getting a reaction from him.

    Any suggestions on how to help that heal?

    And also, just in general.... End of life advice is appreciated...when...how do I know... Etc. I know usually if they're still eating and drinking that's the most important sign. But I know he's getting exceptionally old for a male ground squirrel.

    Thanks!
    Jennifer

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    I was thinking that the other day when you resurfaced here and it hurt my heart.

    For his sore, and for cleaning him up, I would buy a bottle of Betadyne, or 10% povidone iodine as it is called generically. By all means get the cheaper generic. It will be with the wound care at any drug store. It is the red stuff that looks like blood. Dilute it for use - 20 drops in 1/4 cup water. It will become the color of iced tea - if you want to make up smaller amounts, that color is what you are looking for - and it is very forgiving. Just dab it on his sore 3 or 4 times a day - don't cover it or anything. It doesn't hurt or itch and it dries like water with no residue to make him want to fuss with the area. It is antibacterial and antifungal and it cures almost anything on the skin. It works for you, too, BTW!

    I would also use a bit more diluted mixture of it to wipe him down after you clean him.

    I would increase his calcium intake. How much does he get a day? The back end paralysis and spasms SCREAMS MBD. I would start getting calcium into him pronto. How much does he weigh? He is old but it is also possible that what you are seeing is something fixable...

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    Quote Originally Posted by CritterMom View Post
    I was thinking that the other day when you resurfaced here and it hurt my heart.

    For his sore, and for cleaning him up, I would buy a bottle of Betadyne, or 10% povidone iodine as it is called generically. By all means get the cheaper generic. It will be with the wound care at any drug store. It is the red stuff that looks like blood. Dilute it for use - 20 drops in 1/4 cup water. It will become the color of iced tea - if you want to make up smaller amounts, that color is what you are looking for - and it is very forgiving. Just dab it on his sore 3 or 4 times a day - don't cover it or anything. It doesn't hurt or itch and it dries like water with no residue to make him want to fuss with the area. It is antibacterial and antifungal and it cures almost anything on the skin. It works for you, too, BTW!

    I would also use a bit more diluted mixture of it to wipe him down after you clean him.

    I would increase his calcium intake. How much does he get a day? The back end paralysis and spasms SCREAMS MBD. I would start getting calcium into him pronto. How much does he weigh? He is old but it is also possible that what you are seeing is something fixable...
    Thanks for all this. I thought it was MBD and I still think it might have been when he came out of hibernation this year since it was so much longer. Ive been giving him a little extra calcium and I talked to Leigh about it too. He's eating two Henry's blocks a day plus a handful of dandelions and munching on rat blocks so if he was deficient it may just not be cleared up yet.

    I haven't weighed him in a bit and he's gained a lot in the last month since he woke up. I'd guess he's around 220g.

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    Actually 5 years is middle age; that said our veterinarian said the same, yet my fox squirrel lived to 11 and others I have know even longer.

    Question, has he been neutered, and if so was it before reaching sexual maturity at about a year of age?

    Paralysis can be from osteoporosis due to altering. For males it is an issue if they are neutered before reaching sexual maturity.

    For females it puts them into menopause. Our girl developed degenerative disc disease just 2 years after the procedure which resulted in back spasms.

    We treated it with methocarbomal twice daily. .

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    I would concur that this is MBD.


    In treating this, CCM (Calcium Citrate Malate) was found to better support bone mineralization and density than Calcium carbonate in rats.

    https://neulife.com/main/article/144...or-bone-health

    This source can be purchased on Amazon.com in powder form from NurtraBio. https://www.amazon.com/NutraBio-Calc.../dp/B00333HED2

    In using this source for MBD treatment since it is soluble in water, which makes this source easier to administer by syringe compared to the paste form of Calcium Carbonate.

    And though somewhat greater in volume measure to equal the same elemental amount, due to its solubility in water this is not a factor.

    It can be added to any water based liquid or wet food source, or just to water, not requiring food to well uptake into the bloodstream.

    Adding a small measure of apple juice to purified water (filtered but with the minerals left intact) better supports it's uptake into the bones, while making it appealing to a squirrel.

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    Quote Originally Posted by Diggie's Friend View Post
    Actually 5 years is middle age; that said our veterinarian said the same, yet my fox squirrel lived to 11 and others I have know even longer.

    Question, has he been neutered, and if so was it before reaching sexual maturity at about a year of age?

    Paralysis can be from osteoporosis due to altering. For males it is an issue if they are neutered before reaching sexual maturity.

    For females it puts them into menopause. Our girl developed degenerative disc disease just 2 years after the procedure which resulted in back spasms.

    We treated it with methocarbomal twice daily. .
    Petey is a Piute ground squirrel. The oldest females from his type are around 6-7 years and he's one of the oldest known males. I've been working with the biologist who studies them.
    And he was not neutered.

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    WhistlingPete wrote:

    Petey is a Piute ground squirrel. The oldest females from his type are around 6-7 years and he's one of the oldest known males. I've been working with the biologist who studies them.
    And he was not neutered.
    Glad to hear that he is intact. It makes sense about him being elderly as this species is smaller than the Rock and Calif. ground squirrel. I would love to see photos of your boy.

    There is a nerve junction degeneration that is common in elderly rodents, this could be the cause of the paralysis. If he has degenerative disc disease it won't repair it.

    As for treatment for MBD, start with whatever form of calcium you can get today, as prompt treatment is needful.

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    When osteoarthritis occurs in the lumbar spine (spondylosis), degeneration of the intervertebral discs, and narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis) result. This degeneration and narrowing can cause nerve root (radiculopathy) and spinal cord compression resulting in weakness of the hind limbs progressing to hind limb paralysis. This condition is seen mainly in male rats.
    For more info read: http://ratguide.com/health/musculosk...oarthritis.php

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    Quote Originally Posted by Diggie's Friend View Post

    Thanks for this. It sounds exactly like what's happening. As far as calcium goes, I've already been giving it to him for a few weeks and he eats 2 Henry's blocks a day and dandelions. And nothing that's "bad" for him. I'm not sure there's much else to do nutrition wise.

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    The Piute Ground squirrel (Urocitellus mollis) is similar to the CGS (Spermophilus beecheyi) and the 13 lined GS (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus) in taxonomy. I think when we chatted you said he won't eat timothy hay that is normally a Prairie Dog base diet and I believe the Piute is more of a seed eater. Contact Dr. Gena Seaburg kato@spro.net or 425-870-1729 and ask her about the correct Piute diet to prevent MBD. She is THE go-to expert on Prairie Dog nutrition and consults with zoos, vets and PD owners around the world. I learned everything I know about Prairie Dogs from Gena and Lynda Watson. She would also know about Piute's. Ask your biologist friend if he/she knows Gena.

    You don't feed him any dried corn, right? That will damage his gall bladder.
    Sophie Squirrel
    Long Term Squirrel Care & Prairie Dog Behaviorist


    This is the only recommended diet for captive squirrels. Link: https://www.henryspets.com/healthy-d...pet-squirrels/

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    Petey is such an interesting and cool little fellow. I almost hope it is MBD because prompt treatment can reverse the symptoms and cure the syndrome.

    Petey
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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    Quote Originally Posted by SophieSquirrel View Post
    The Piute Ground squirrel (Urocitellus mollis) is similar to the CGS (Spermophilus beecheyi) and the 13 lined GS (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus) in taxonomy. I think when we chatted you said he won't eat timothy hay that is normally a Prairie Dog base diet and I believe the Piute is more of a seed eater. Contact Dr. Gena Seaburg kato@spro.net or 425-870-1729 and ask her about the correct Piute diet to prevent MBD. She is THE go-to expert on Prairie Dog nutrition and consults with zoos, vets and PD owners around the world. I learned everything I know about Prairie Dogs from Gena and Lynda Watson. She would also know about Piute's. Ask your biologist friend if he/she knows Gena.

    You don't feed him any dried corn, right? That will damage his gall bladder.
    Thanks I'll contact her also. And nope to dried corn!

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    Do you feed grubworms?

    Camilles Vita-Mealies offers both live and dried mealworms raised on an vitamin-nutrient enriched diet.

    Here is the link. https://vita-mealie.weebly.com/

    Another plant belonging to the same group as Dandelions is Chicory; both the leaf and the root contain a good array of nutrients.

    Baby chicory leaves are low in calcium robbing oxalates, which makes the diet more supportive calcium wise. Arugula, Escarole are also good sources.

    Seeds is the hard part as most are high in phosphorus to calcium, still for the diet to be supported in a healthy ratio there needs to be sources higher in phosphorus,

    so don't be afraid to offer him Oats for example. If he will eat them hydrated that is easier on his digestion. Organic oat groats are available online from Bob's Red Mill.

    With this source I have soaked them over night to saturate them. If you don't soak them chopping them up is recommended as they swell up in the body.

    Then again with ground squirrels this may not be needful. I would inquire of Gena Seaberg on that account.

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    https://www.amazon.com/Bobs-Red-Mill...%2Bgroats&th=1

    https://www.amazon.com/Bobs-Red-Mill...004VLVB5C?th=1

    Edit: 'If you don't soak the groats then chop the grains into a few pieces, as they swell up in the body.

    Then again with ground squirrels this may not be needful. or perhaps feeding the roll oats to feed raw may be a better choice?'

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    Yesterday and today petey seems to be doing better in terms of energy and running in his wheel. Tonight when I checked on him though he had a little blood on him. He was cleaning himself which he hasnt done well in awhile but his penis was bleeding a little. I don't think it was bloody urine but I can't be sure. I rinsed off the blood from the penis and disinfected it but i couldn't see a source for the blood. Any thoughts?

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    He could have a UTI. Do you have any antibiotics? If so which ones?

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    Quote Originally Posted by Mel1959 View Post
    He could have a UTI. Do you have any antibiotics? If so which ones?
    I don't have any antibiotics. I just posted on fb asking if anyone has any cipro lying around.

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    I realized I do have an antibiotic cream that was for a bunny. It is Silvadene.

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    I've been applying the silvadene which seems like it is helping. I removed his digging dirt and his litter box so he wouldn't be getting those stuck in that area. I think that's all helping. He seems cleaner at least but i worry since that's his main exercise

    Yesterday he fell a couple times while climbing. Everything is well padded now but still. I tried blocking off part of the cage wall so he had to pass through levels but he would push through my barrier enough to get stuck which was much worse than falling.

    This morning as i cuddled him he yawned and i realized he only has one top tooth now. When did that happen, Petey?! I tried to get some pictures....do i do anything about that? Petey dentures?

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    Default Re: Elderly squirrel issues and possible infection

    Check the length of his bottom teeth. Without a top tooth to help wear the bottom tooth, the remaining tooth can overgrow. If they become overgrown, he will need regular trimmings. Perhaps the missing tooth will grow back in?

    I think You might try some different things in his diet? I am not at all familiar with ground squirrels so take this with a grain of salt. Some people have reported good results with Harlan Teklid blocks. Henries blocks are great and I would continue to give them to him but the HK can be had with higher protein formulations (they have a 14% thru 19% protein versions) and are a complete dietary package. Maybe try 1 HK and 1 Henries per day in addition to whatever else you normally provide? I would bump up Calcium intake too, as we age our bodies process nutrients less effeciently so a diet that was sufficient during our youth may not be sufficient as we enter our twilight years.

    The Silvadene cream is very good stuff (not a typical AB but does have AB effects). The trick is to use the absolute minimum to cover the area, a very light film will work.

    Seeing little Petey sleeping there and knowing how old he is is really sad. They have such short lives compared to us.

    You asked about end of life decisions, when is right? Only you will know when the time is right for Petey. He still sounds like he has some good days ahead of him but there will come a time when a gentle, pain free passing over will be the greatest gift you can give him. If you have a vet that will see Petey, you can talk to them to about painless end-of-life options. Breaks my heart a little to even type this, Petey is such a cool, little fellow. Petey
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