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Thread: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

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    Exclamation Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    Hello! We rescued an Eastern Gray Squirrel last Spring...Bubsy ❤️ We instantly fell in love. He is our angel and a part of our family.

    Bubs has been coming back weekly for a treat ever since he went Ďwildí (walnuts are his favorite!). Itís been such a joy to watch him grow and thrive in his natural environment!

    About two weeks ago I noticed that when eating he would stand tall, look up, and tilt his head to the left... sometimes staring into space before regaining his balance.

    On Friday he stumbled when running down our porch stairs. My heart sank! On Saturday he willing went back into his old setup (stainless steel cage with a wooden squirrel house). Itís like he knows he will be protected, cared for and loved here!

    I currently volunteer at a local bird shelter and have access to an avian vet (she has not treated squirrels before). She recommended Piperazine to deworm. Iíve also been using food grade diatomaceous earth to get rid of any mites and/or fleas.

    Bubsy is drinking and eating. Heís active around the cage, but his balance is definitely off, especially when heís eating.

    It breaks our hearts to see him like this! I called local animal control and there have been zero cases of raccoon roundworm in our area and surrounding areas. There are no bite marks, no lesions, no scabs, and no rash. However, he is missing a patch of hair under his left eye and under his left armpit. The exposed skin looks healthy (itís not even red).

    I am aware this could be a million different things. The best case scenario would be an ear infection. We are willing to do anything at this point to help our little guy!!

    ANY & ALL ADVICE WILL BE MUCH APPRECIATED!! THANK YOU ❤️

    (I do have a video but Iím having trouble uploading it. Here is a picture taken yesterday. Isnít he darling?!?!)
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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    He is very cute and it is touching that he came back to his release cage to be safe and to get some help from you.

    I will just throw out a few things that you might consider:

    1)These symptoms could be from a head injury (fall). He might just improve with time. Lots of folks here have had success treating TBI with pred (even though this is not recommended in humans anymore).

    2)The Piperazine should allow elimination of any ascaris worms in the GI tract but I am not sure it would have any effect on worms that had migrated to the brain? But certainly worth a try. I would collect and inspect his poops for any dead worms, eggs etc. If there is any question, having your vet perform fecal test.

    3)Can you examine his ears for any discharge or unusual smell?

    Is he stable, getting worse or improving at all? Hopefully, others here might have some ideas as well.
    See my wild squirrel adventures in the thread "Squirtle's yard!":
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...quirtle-s-Yard!

    See the sisters Pip and Nip!
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...-(Pip-and-Nip)!

    Loving dad to Sir Max, 2017-2018. There is no foot so small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.

    "Once in a while you get shown the light, In the strangest of places if you look at it right."
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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    Thanks for the quick response!

    1)TBI with prednisone?
    Is there an exact dosage thatís best for a 1lb male?

    2)Iím not seeing any worms or eggs in his fecal matter. His droppings fall to a tray located under the grate on the bottom of his cage. But, they are so small I wasnít aware worms and eggs would be visible.

    3)His ears both look the same - dark pink, with no discharge. I canít smell anything - Iím probably not getting close enough to be able to, though

    Bubs seems to stable. Heís not getting better, but doesnít seem to be getting worse. He still losses his balance and tilts his head to the left a lot.

    Iíve been researching like crazy the past few days, desperate to find help and am having trouble coming across a similar case to ours. There is a lot about this ďRaccoon Roundworm.Ē I did come across something on this site that Iíll have to find again.

    Is there any way we can find anything more specific out through bloodwork (and/or fecal)?

    Iím willing to try anything to get Bubsy back on his feet and healthy again!! ❤️❤️❤️

    I have an 11sec video of Bubs eating, too but am having trouble uploading it :/

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    Raccoon roundworm is very deadly. Pretty quickly also. The fact that he hS not gotten worse is a positive. Tubedriver had an excellent writeup.

    Your boy is darling!
    redwuff
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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    Videos have to be uploaded to you tube or another site like it and the link posted on your thread. Do you have access to prednisone or dexamethasone? Someone on here can help you dose it if you do and can post the strength of the medicine.

    I had a release that suffered head trauma and a long course of prednisone made a huge difference. I hope your boy gets better quickly.

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    Thank you! Heís my first experience with a squirrel and I was hooked instantly!

    Bubsy has been like this for at least two weeks *that we noticed* ... we got him secure about four days ago and I first noticed the head tilt and balance issues about ten days before that. It doesnít seem to be getting worse or better at this moment. However, Iím sure neurological problems take time - if thatís his condition.

    Iíve read a ton of different articles on raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis). Some made me think every squirrel out there has it, while others said it wasnít common, etc.

    Assuming the worst, I was terrified that this is what he has. I wasnít aware it how quickly the disease would kill

    Does anyone have any recommendations on what medication (and proper dosage for 1lb) I could try? Prednisone?

    I truly appreciate your insight!!

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    *** YES, I can have access to both prednisone and/or dexamethasone ***

    I volunteer at a bird rescue so we actually have medication for tiny little finches all the way up to large hyacinth macaws. The weight of a squirrel fits right in

    Ideas on administering the drug(s), too would be great! Bubsy is sooo picky when it comes to food. He doesnít like peanut butter or honey. He flipped the water over (with the dewormer) multiple times whilst simultaneously giving me the stink eye, lol. His little antics make me just love him more!! But, of course, I also want him to get better.

    You all are wonderful!!

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    Hereís a video of Bubsy from yesterday. Today he was the same. He tilts to the left, back a little, then straightens out. Itís mostly evident when heís eating.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_Roe57O88Lk

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    I can help with dosing pred but I need 1) the strength/type of prednisone (pill or liquid and amount/strength), 2) how much you have and 3) an exact weight would be good. I can dose him at 1lb (454g) which would be ball park right but a real weight would be better.

    As far as raccoon worms are concerned, what can happen is that if they get in a human or squirrel host, they can't complete their lifecycle. So the larvae burrow around into organs, in some cases the brain. They sort of die and become encysted (encased) and our immune system attacks them as invaders which causes inflammation and surrounding tissue damage. The Piperazine will kill/paralyze any remaining worms so they can be excreted and preventing this process from continuing any further. I am not convinced he has round worms but it will not harm him to treat for them.

    He seems a little off in that video but certainly not severely compromised, I hope be will get better with time (and maybe a pred trial).
    See my wild squirrel adventures in the thread "Squirtle's yard!":
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...quirtle-s-Yard!

    See the sisters Pip and Nip!
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...-(Pip-and-Nip)!

    Loving dad to Sir Max, 2017-2018. There is no foot so small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.

    "Once in a while you get shown the light, In the strangest of places if you look at it right."
    -Grateful Dead

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    Wow, that is a great video. Bubsy is really enjoying his food.

    Hey, I’d like for you to check something. Check his teeth and the roof of his mouth. I have seen a squirrel lean backwards to eat when their lower incisors were overgrown. The overgrown bottom incisors would hit the roof of the mouth when they ate so they would lean backwards. Sometimes overgrown incisors will puncture the palate.

    This might not be the problem at all but you want to rule it out. The fact that you notice the problem more when he is eating is suspicious for a tooth issue.

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    Sounds like a good start! I will be in touch with the vet tomorrow about Prednisone AND I will also check his teeth
    What do you think is easier to administer- pills or liquid? I should have access to both.
    I do have a weight machine (in grams), too. I think I can get a semi-accurate or accurate weight depending on how long I can get Bubsy to stay still.

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    We always give meds in a liquid form. We compound the pills to make a liquid. With the weight of Bubsy and the mg of the pill we are able to accurately dose meds.

    We usually have access to pills but a liquid can be diluted as well.

    Earlier you asked how we give meds. We dose so that the volume is low. The appropriate dose is pulled up in a 1cc syringe and it is blasted in the corner of their mouth. It’s over before they know it. If the taste of the med is bland they don’t fight you BUT if it’s nasty they will fight you on subsequent doses.

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    Unhappy Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    Good morning,

    It seems as Bubsy has taken a turn for the worse overnight.

    Heís really, really wobbly - tilting not only on the left, but also to the right side as well (and falling backwards).

    When Bubs was eating breakfast he had to lean on something to stay balanced.

    My heart is breaking. I am still willing to get the liquid pred if anyone thinks it will help.

    As difficult as it is I do believe that there is no greater gift than for a pet parent to ensure that their babyís last days are comfortable.

    Does anyone have any suggestions in case Bubsyís suffering gets out of control? If I canít help or slow his illness I want to ensure a peaceful end-of-life experience. We are all devastated over here... writing this makes it really real

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please helpto s

    So sorry to hear this. I had a transient squirrel come through my yard a while back. He would sit on his hind legs and eat. While eating he would gradually fall backwards, not fighting while he felltill he met the ground. Have you seen Bubsy do this. In the video he looked really bright eyed, does he still today? I donít know what was wrong with that squirrel in my yard, but I will search other rehabbers to see if they have a clue.
    redwuff
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    Master Wildlife Rehabilitator

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubsy View Post
    Good morning,

    It seems as Bubsy has taken a turn for the worse overnight.

    Heís really, really wobbly - tilting not only on the left, but also to the right side as well (and falling backwards).

    When Bubs was eating breakfast he had to lean on something to stay balanced.

    My heart is breaking. I am still willing to get the liquid pred if anyone thinks it will help.

    As difficult as it is I do believe that there is no greater gift than for a pet parent to ensure that their babyís last days are comfortable.

    Does anyone have any suggestions in case Bubsyís suffering gets out of control? If I canít help or slow his illness I want to ensure a peaceful end-of-life experience. We are all devastated over here... writing this makes it really real
    Most vets will do a humane euthanasia for wildlife. So hard to think about this...
    redwuff
    State Licensed
    Master Wildlife Rehabilitator

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    Thank you, redwuff.
    He WAS bright eyed yesterday and heís still active today. Just really, really off balance. My husband and I both left in tears today. It was just difficult to see the change. Maybe he will stabilize. Oh I hope so!!
    Iíve contacted the vet this morning for prednisone.
    I also have another video, but I need to wait until my step daughter is home from school so she can put it on YouTube.
    I really appreciate the support from TSB! Not many people that I know understand our love for Bubsy ♥️

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    couple of things:

    1) have you been able to check out his dental situation?

    2) have we completely ruled out ear infection?

    the fact that he's still wanting to eat makes me not believe it's yet time for euthanasia~~ he clearly still wants to live.

    is he dehydrated?
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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    ☑️Ears look clean
    ☑️Teeth look normal (not overgrown)
    ☑️Heís drinking water consistently... not too much & not too little. Iím home most of the time so Iím able to monitor him.
    ☑️Heís eating well, too

    My plan is to try everything I can and hopefully not euthanize ♥️

    Iím waiting on the vet for the prednisone. Any additional advice is much appreciated!!

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    This is just my opinion, but there is NO way I would euthanize that squirrel with those mild balance issue symptoms. He might be able to make it out there even with some slight deficits and as long as he gets no worse, even a slight improvement would probably be enough IMHO. Give him more time to heal and to adapt and lets see how he responds to treatment. Remember, some head trauma due to a fall is probably more likely than Baylis Ascaris.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bubsy View Post
    ☑️Ears look clean
    ☑️Teeth look normal (not overgrown)
    ☑️Heís drinking water consistently... not too much & not too little. Iím home most of the time so Iím able to monitor him.
    ☑️Heís eating well, too

    My plan is to try everything I can and hopefully not euthanize ♥️

    Iím waiting on the vet for the prednisone. Any additional advice is much appreciated!!
    See my wild squirrel adventures in the thread "Squirtle's yard!":
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...quirtle-s-Yard!

    See the sisters Pip and Nip!
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...-(Pip-and-Nip)!

    Loving dad to Sir Max, 2017-2018. There is no foot so small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.

    "Once in a while you get shown the light, In the strangest of places if you look at it right."
    -Grateful Dead

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    Default Re: Rehabbed squirrel came home with head tilt, loss of balance, etc. Please help

    Although the paper I attached here is 6 years old since it was issued, it comes full of correct information about Baylisascariasis procyonis 'round worm' or 'raccoon round worm' disease.

    I researched this parasite for two reasons:

    First, I get daily visits 24/7 and 365 days of the year from raccoons singletons, elderly and complete families. Luckily they have not made any parts of my property their latrine, which is where this disease really starts full force.

    Second, I have had 4 wild squirrels which we called "Neuros" in the beginning, because we thought they had some sort of neurological disorder, injury from fall or fight, etc. The symptoms were all too close to each other to consider falls, as every fall would be different and one would expect different neurological behavior afterwards.

    But all my Neuros behaved the same way, running on grass or flat surfaces on a sideways, arched path, similar to a crab walking in the sand sideways; looking up and into sky with wobbly head movements, missing target when jumping or overshooting a destination point when trying to stop. These are the more marked visible behaviors.

    Since I called and got assigned a specialist from the CDC (Center for Disease Controls), I received several papers and notices about how to prevent, clean, kill these special roundworms, which apparently not even bleach can do. The recommended CDC method to sanitize a place where there is a raccoon latrine is digging soil 12 inches deep, remove in sealed bags and torch with propane flames the leftover soil to kill any left eggs. There is no chemical disinfectant, sterilizer, oxidizer known to health officials that can kill or dislodge these sticky eggs.

    The attached is a very condensed report on baylisascariasis, endorsed by the Center for Food Security & Public Health, the Institute for International Cooperation in Animal Biologics, Iowa State University, OiE and the USDA.

    Trooper's dad
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