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Possible Malabsorption? Un-Diagnosable, Please help.
Possible Malabsorption? Un-Diagnosable, Please help.
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Aug 16 2015
09:38:08 AM
This is going to be a long post, I'm sorry about that, but I am desperate for answers. One of my gliders is suffering from a condition that her vets have been unable to diagnose. After a lot of research I have found only one other person who seems to have experienced the same issues, however I am currently unable to contact her. Her gliders passed away due to the health issues that mine is currently experiencing and her passed away both only a few months younger than my girl is right now.
I'm going to give a rundown of my gliders symptoms and leave a link to the post. If you have experienced something similar please comment. I would like to know any treatments you have tried, even if they have failed. Please specify if the treatments have failed. Okay, without further ado, this is what my girl is currently facing.

She started off as a healthy active joey, able to climb, run, and jump far distances. However she was smaller than the average joey, and never gained much weight. As the months passed that I had her I noticed that she began falling short of long distance jumps. At the time I didn't think too much of it, and simply lowered the items that she attempted to jump to. Eventually however, she began to fall short of even those jumps and then stopped attempting long jumps all together. At this time she could still get around easily and was at a healthy weight.
When she stopped jumping large distances I chalked it up as inactiveness, not inability, and I realize now my mistake. But at the time I did my research and realized that a huge mistake I was making was that she didn't have a cage mate. Reading that this was a major factor of depression that could lead to being inactive, I went and rescued a male glider who was the same age of her. At this point I had her for about 5 months. When I got the glider I immediately thought I had been lied to because he was twice the size of my female. I also thought he was monstrous because his grip was so strong that it bunch up the fabric he walked on and his nails dig into my skin. Once again, I now realize that I was wrong. He was neutered only a few days after I rescued him, and while at the vet he went through a health exam. He was in fact the same age as my female and he actually had a normal, strong grip, it was Rabbit who was abnormal. She never grew and her grip was weaker than his, however they both seemed healthy so I simply thought it was just a difference between the gliders and that was it. At this time Rabbit did not see the vet, only my male did.
A few months passed and Rabbit stayed the same, not as strong and still not jumping far, but healthy and active. But it was around this time that I noticed her activity level was decreasing. She stopped jumping all together and would only climb around. She would climb up objects and wouldn't be able to climb back down. However she could keep up with my male for the most part though, although she didnt jump anymore she was still active, and fast in climbing. Around this time is when she started to look rather skinny, and I noticed her nails were catching on everything. I began trimming her nails so that she could get around easier, without the hassle of getting caught, and I realized two things: Her nails grew very, very fast, and they were thin, sharp, and brittle. So I took her into one of the only two exotic vets near be to be examined. The vet was very rough with her, and didn't take notice of a lot of the things I told her. I tried explaining her size and inactivity but the vet insisted that gliders were simply different from each other and that Rabbit was healthy, despite her weight, size, and the beginnings of weakening hind legs.
So I took her home and never took her back to that vet again. Rabbit continued to get worse. She was very skinny, and began to get around slowly. She was no longer able to keep up with my other glider, and she developed a weird gate. Her hind legs were thin, like there was no muscle or fat, and her legs stuck out like a frog when she got around. Kind of like they were turned outwards, rather than tucking underneath her. Her grip weakened and she stopped leaving the cage as often as she usually had. At this time she also still hadn't grown skeletal wise since I had her. Her face shape was still round and joey-like compared to my other glider.
At this time I began up-ing her calcium intake. I watched video after video about sugar gliders with HPL, and while her gait didn't quite look the same as the gliders in the videos it was the closest thing I could find matching her symptoms. Increasing calcium didn't help.
Months after her visit with the first exotic vet, I found another one in my area that was willing to handle her. The vet claimed experience with gliders, so I eagerly took her in. Immediately the vet said something was wrong with her, and I was relieved that someone was finally acknowledging something wasn't right. (I had been sending pictures of her to friends and family and any time someone would come over I'd take her out and show her to them. Always asking if 'something didn't seem right'.) At this point she weighed only 49 grams, and despite being full grown she was only one third the size of her healthy cage mate. Her vet didn't want to draw blood because Rabbit was so tiny. She also said that she believed she could feel a mass in her stomach. She ended up giving me pain medication with instructions to be back in two weeks to see if it made a difference. It didn't.
Rabbit was at a point now where, according to her vet, she had no lean muscle and zero percent body fat. Her grip had weakened more and when she attempted to climb up her cage she would slide slowly back down when she gripped the vertical straight bars. She didn't leave the cage at all and barely moved around inside the cage. When she sat her posture was off. She sits with her stomach and chest flat on the ground, and the forearm of her front legs lies completely flat against the ground up to her elbow. Her appetite worsened. Her poop is smaller, less often, and more compact than her cage mate, and the area around her eyes is often wet. And still her nails grew alarmingly fast and thin.
A month or so later I took her in again after a lot of research. I asked to have her checked for parasites. They checked her poop and it came back clean. Even though that was the case they put her on parasite medication and pain medication again. I gave her both and neither did anything. At this point the vet is telling me she believes that Rabbit has a genetic disease and wasn't curable.
To point out, even though she is inactive she is very mentally alert. She watches her surrounds actively and when I take her out of the cage she lifts herself up, so that her chest and stomach are off the ground (or in this case my hand) and eagerly looks and sniffs at her surroundings. However her grip is so weak that I often have to keep my other hand on the side of her or under her to keep her from sliding off. Shes bright eyed and curious, and if she hears me opening her yogurt drops (her favorite treat) she does her best to make her way excitedly towards me.
Last month I moved. I found a new vet that I began taking her to. I am NOT fond of this vet. Despite Rabbits obvious impairment he handled her roughly, at one point allowing her to hang by her tail, and I had to point out her physical state before he took notice of it. He talked over me a lot and didnt give me much of a chance to explain her history and current condition. He wants to do blood work on her, but I am weary about letting him. Right now she has an appointment to allow it, but I am still debating whether or not I will go through with it. In total Rabbit saw three different vets before her current one and each one refused to do blood work on her because of her size and weight. I dont understand that effect size and weight has on drawing blood, but I assume that they didnt use an opportunity to diagnose Rabbit because it was risk full towards her health. (If anyone know anything about this please comment). So it worried me that he jumped to doing blood work when her previous vets flat out refused. He also didnt ask me about her care, and didnt ask to have Rabbits folders faxed to him from her previous vets. Hes the only vet near me that would handle her, and hes over an hour away.
Sorry I didnt post this to talk about my concern about the vet, I meant to stay focused on her condition.
So as a general round up, here is a list of her symptoms. I dont know what is important and whats not, so Ill list everything:
- Weak, very little muscle mass. Especially in the hind leg area
- Skinny, little to no body fat. Appears malnourished.
- Weak grip
- Bad appetite
- Nails grow very fast and very brittle/thin. They get caught on everything and she struggles to get them free.
- Area around eyes always wet
- Her poop is small and compact, doesn't poop as much as Thumper.
- Vet said she felt a possible mass in her stomach
- Has an odd gait, walks with her legs turned outwards like a frog.
- When sitting, she lays flat on her stomach with her entire forearm lying flat as well. The posture is odd
- Slow progression, as a Joey she was healthy and active although never very big, as she grew older she digressed.
- However she seems mentally active and can be stimulated. When taken out of her cage she is eager to look at what's going on around her, although she doesn't attempt to leave me.
- Loves yogurt drops and almonds
I think thats everything. As something I may get asked, yes the question of x-rays has been mentioned, but I am regretfully unable to afford them. I am a college student and to be honest I am lucky when I make rent. But please leave any information you have about this. If something youve read sounds familiar please leave a link, if you know someone whos had a glider thats suffered similarly please leave contact info. Anything, absolutely anything, will be beneficial. Currently my plan is to call Rabbits old vet and ask them to see her again and give them the information Ive uncovered about her condition. Theyre the ones who have treated her best, and although the drive is long I think I am going to return to them..
Here is a link to the post that someone who owned gliders with the same symptoms as Rabbit posted, (if you know of a way for me to contact the author please do say!). Unlike myself the author of this post was able to afford quite extensive testing, which she writes about. Open her post to read about it. Unfortunately it seemed for her that while the test were telling that werent conclusive in a diagnostic.
I am going to make a post right under this showing current pictures of rabbit.
Thank you for taking the time to read this !
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Aug 16 2015
10:02:39 AM
Rabbithole Starting Member Visit Rabbithole's Photo Album 4 Posts


Sorry for the bad quality, but this photo shows one of her odd postures.




These two photo's show the same position. This is not the only way she sits, this is only how she sits is she is attempting to keep her chest lifted off the ground. Fully resting she sits in the manner that I described in the post above.



In this photo you can see her lack of fat and muscle pretty clearly.



Her nails had just been trimmed, but here's the best photo I had of them



Rabbit is the one of the right, you can see the difference in the development of their skulls.



Their general difference in size. In this photo Rabbit weighs 50 grams. Keep in mind her cage mate is healthy and normal.





This photo is from the day I bought her. I don't know if it's just me, but it looks like her hind legs already look abnormal.
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Aug 16 2015
10:09:37 AM
Candy Cuddle Bear Visit Candy's Photo Album FL, USA 8110 Posts
I am sorry you and Rabbit are going through all this.

I did not see the link to a previous post on a glider with a similar condition.

There was a discussion several years ago on Glider Central (another forum) about several gliders that appeared to have a malabsorption problem. These gliders were all related, sharing a great grand parent to it was believed to have been an inherited issue.

quote:
I dont understand that effect size and weight has on drawing blood


The danger in drawing blood or doing xrays is that the glider must be sedated to do either procedure. The smaller the animal the more difficult it is to sedated them safely. Xrays would probably tell you more about her condition than drawing blood.

You may want to visit the Sweet Spot Forum and post your information there. That forum has a number of glider owners that have extensive experience with rescue gliders and with working with gliders with medical issues. The Forum owner Val Betts runs a glider rescue in Texas and was the owner of some of the gliders that were believed to have malabsorption issues. Her screen name is SomethingToBelieveIn. She might be able to give you more suggestions on care and can help put your vet in contact with other vets that have cared for gliders in similar situations.

http://thesweetspot.forumotion.net/


Your description and the photos make me think of the human Brittle Bone Disease which is an inherited condition that includes frequently easily broken bones but also growth failure. It may or may not be related to her ability to absorb nutrients but is most likely a genetic issue.

Where did you purchase her? You might also contact the breeder if known and find out if there have been other related gliders with similar problems.

Edited by - Candy on Aug 16 2015 10:17:16 AM
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Aug 16 2015
10:19:21 AM
Rabbithole Starting Member Visit Rabbithole's Photo Album 4 Posts
quote:
Originally posted by Candy

I am sorry you and Rabbit are going through all this.

I did not see the link to a previous post on a glider with a similar condition.

There was a discussion several years ago on Glider Central (another forum) about several gliders that appeared to have a malabsorption problem. These gliders were all related, sharing a great grand parent to it was believed to have been an inherited issue.

quote:
I dont understand that effect size and weight has on drawing blood


The danger in drawing blood or doing xrays is that the glider must be sedated to do either procedure. The smaller the animal the more difficult it is to sedated them safely. Xrays would probably tell you more about her condition than drawing blood.

You may want to visit the Sweet Spot Forum and post your information there. That forum has a number of glider owners that have extensive experience with rescue gliders and with working with gliders with medical issues. The Forum owner Val Betts runs a glider rescue in Texas and was the owner of some of the gliders that were believed to have malabsorption issues. Her screen name is SomethingToBelieveIn. She might be able to give you more suggestions on care and can help put your vet in contact with other vets that have cared for gliders in similar situations.

http://thesweetspot.forumotion.net/




thank you for pointing that out, the link to the post is thesweetspot.forumotion.net/t1542-possible-genetic-metabolic-malabsorbtion-disorder

It's actually the same website you recommended, and the post is by soemthing_to_believe_in. Seems it's the one you were talking about. I am waiting to be approved by an administrator so that I can post on the website. I really hope I can some how contact her.

She was a gift to me, and I believe she was bought as a store called A-Z animals. It's just some small shop that has a lot of exotic breeds, but they weren't bread there unfortunately. Thank you for your information.

Edited by - Rabbithole on Aug 16 2015 10:21:16 AM
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Aug 16 2015
02:27:21 PM
Vicki2015 Glider Visit Vicki2015's Photo Album 68 Posts
In my opinion I think that for drawing blood it's not only the issue of anestia but could also be because she's so tiny she doesn't have that much blood which would make her a little weaker depending on how much blood they need. (Unfortunately I know this because I'm really tiny and have passed out from getting small amounts of blood drawn) but anestia is defiantly and issue for her size
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Aug 16 2015
06:29:20 PM
GLIDEIT Super Glider Visit GLIDEIT's Photo Album Canada 330 Posts
Sorry to hear about your troubles with your little girl. It's hard when you're trying your best to get answers but even the vets are stumped. She is lucky she has such a persistent mom.

I would suggest finding the vet consult list, and bringing it in to your vet. He can call more experienced glider vets (if I'm not mistaken I believe Dr Walsh, the one that was treating the gliders in the post you linked) is on that list as open to consulting with other vets. He might have more ideas now
based on his previous experience with those other gliders.

Other than that, I didn't see in your post if you mentioned what you're feeding them? Have you tried altering their diets at all? If it is a problem with absorption, it could be exacerbated by, or related to a food allrrgy/intolerance that's irritating the stomach or digestive system. Regardless of whether this is a genetic issue or not, you're going to want her on the best possible diet that will allow her the highest amount of useable nutrients/protein in the smallest amount. Maybe try handfeeding her bits of her dinner portion as treats to encourage her to eat more too.

You might want to try offering her some easy to digest, higher fat items such as avocado or coconut oil to help her maintain weight. I know coconut oil in particular can be absorbed in the mouth so it might help get some nutrients and calories in her despite any digestive or intestinal absorption issues.

Good luck to you and Rabbit, she looks like such a sweetheart.
Possible Malabsorption? Un-Diagnosable, Please help.

GliderGossip GliderGossip
Sugar Gliders
Possible Malabsorption? Un-Diagnosable, Please help.