Didn't know whether to post this here or in special needs. Feel free to move it if needed.
In the time that I have had Jackie Chan, I have acquired a great deal of information about paralysis in gliders and the issues that come with it. My hope is that this thread will one day be a place for others with paralyzed gliders to learn, share and rejoice as I have!
So, the thoughts that are on my head now:HOPE
: There is hope for these gliders. Even in dire circumstances, improvement is possible. I had been told that Jackie Chan would never regain any sensation or use of his hind limbs/tail as the damage to his spine was too substantial. WELL, a good diet
, safe cage and plenty of love changed that. The swelling on his spine began to go down and he recovered a bit of movement. Granted, it is no where near normal movement, but to go from NONE to some is HUGE! THERE IS HOPE for these gliders. DO NOT ever let anyone talk you into having them put down. If you cannot handle your glider's physical needs or the financial obligations that come with owning a special needs glider, contact me. I am happy to take all the little "special needs" gliders at any time.VET CHECK
: It is IMPERATIVE that any paralyzed glider be checked by an experienced vet
ASAP and that x-rays be taken. There are essentially 3 reasons for paralysis in a glider, the most common being diet
. Most of us are familiar with HLP. This is why we are so paranoid about calcium and diet
and appropriate ratios and all. MY understanding is that with HLP, the problems slowly grow more severe. This thread is not so much about HLP, as this is not my experience. But, the recommendations are still the same.
When paralysis occurs suddenly, the most common cause is DISEASE (a parasite or bacterial infection). However, there are also those gliders who experience an injury leaving them paralyzed forever. This is my experience with Jackie Chan. The difference in these etiologies can only be determined by x-ray. Once you have a good x-ray, you have a starting point. It was from the x-ray that we located the point where Jackie's spine was separated and we were also able to observe bowel and bladder function. DON'T SKIP THE X-RAY! Also, you will know from there whether improvement is likely. Realize that many gliders improve significantly.HOUSING
: A paralyzed glider will require special housing and toys
. A truely paralyzed glider will not be able to monitor his/her back limbs for injury. They are at VERY HIGH risk of injury (esp. dislocation and abrasion) from dragging their legs around. A low profile cage is a MUST. A glider with loss of the use of even one limb is at risk for falls and further injury. With paralysis, this risk is even greater. A glider could fall, break a leg but be unable to feel it so show no signs/symptoms and then develop a life-threatening infection. So, the risk of falling MUST be minimized. I recommend a cage NO TALLER than 2 feet (18 inches is even better). It is best with paralyzed gliders to go OUT rather than UP. Still provide lots of space, just not vertical space. Also, cage bars, esp. at the bottom, should be covered to prevent legs falling through or getting hung up. Believe it or not, fleece has not proven to be the best here. When I was using fleece, Jackie's back legs go caught (even with clipped nails) FREQUENTLY and he would just drag the fleece with him, thereby exposing the bars again. You could anchor the fleece to the sides of the cage, but this will not eliminate the "getting caught." What I found works very well is VELUX. I bought a Velux blanket from Wal-Mart and cut it to fit. It works beautifully! I even made pouches
and some toys
As for toys
and sleeping pouches
, there are SO MANY toys
and things that can be modified for these guys. Remember, they are dragging their back side, so everything should be LOW. They should be able to just crawl/drag themself into the sleeping quarters. I have been experimenting with a wide variety of items for sleeping, but basically any thing that allows for them to feel secure, is indeed safe for them, and that they can just walk into is GREAT! Jackie is currently sleeping in a tee-pee/tent like pouch I made that is full of blankies. He loves it. WITH toys
you have to be sure that ANY toy that might catch a toe, a tail or a leg or tangle them up is used only under supervision. With Jackie, I leave in his cage only fleecy toys
and a few plastic toys
that have no holes or places to catch himself on.EXERCISE
: As with all gliders, daily exercise and socialization are imperative. I do NOT do tent time with Jackie because I don't want him to climb and our tent is so small that UP is about the only way to go. Plus, it is very tempting to him. Remember, a paralyzed glider still WANTS to climb, so they are counting on you to keep them safe. I do take Jackie in the bathroom and I provide TONS of toys
and foraging opportunities for him. We are slowly introducing a wheel (the silent spinner because it is solid and easy to enter) during supervised play. BUT, I would not leave a wheel in his cage. TOO MANY opportunities for injury there. These gliders still love to play and they are still very curious. BE CREATIVE. It is important that you treat them as normal as possible. ANy activity your other gliders do can probably be modified. But, your paralyzed glider's safety comes first.BONDING
: Not much difference in bonding
with a paralyzed glider. Follow the same steps. It is IMPORTANT, however, that these guys be thoroughly checked over daily for sores, SM and other injury they may have sustained. ALSO, when your glider is ready to begin climbing all over you as his/her "human tree" be VERY cautious. They may get themelves up OK, but once a paralyzed glider begins to climb down, his back side - which is not anchored or holding on - will likely flip over his front side causing him to fall. Don't want that. POTTY TIME:
A glider who is paralyzed from the waist down will likely have no bowel and bladder control. This means that they will just lose the overflow. Therefore, they will forever go potty in their pouches
and on you. Simply, when the bladder is full, any new urine added will spill out. Same with the bowel. It is the unfortunate, but essential, task of glider owners to examine poop and pee daily. These guys will FOREVER be at HIGH risk for UTI. And,since they don't feel anything, you cannot wait for hissing as a sign. Your first sign that there may be a problem will be a change in smell (so, yes, you have to smell the cage liner and pouches
- I know, YUCK. But, we do what we have to do for our suggies, don't we?). As in Jackie's case, you may find that you have to do rotations of antibiotics (we do two weeks off, one week on currently) to combat infection. Remember, urine is constantly sitting in the bladder. Not such a good thing. This also makes diet
very important (as it is with any glider). don't be afraid to give a little cranberry juice from time to time. I keep one water bottle with a mix of juice and water in the cage on the weeks we are off medication. Always keep fresh, purified water available.SOCIALIZATION:
With Any glider, there is a risk of rejection from peers. Gliders are like people - some just don't get along. BUT, as long as you treat your paralyzed glider as normally as possible, the chances are good that he/she will be accepted by another glider. I was lucky with Jackie Chan because my Sassy loved him from afar until she got the opportunity to run across the room to his cage. They have been together since and are a great, sweet couple. ABSOLUTELY your paralyzed glider can find a cage mate. TO NEUTER OR NOT TO NEUTER
: That is the question with your paralyzed boy. The best advice I can give is to follow your vet
's recommendation. For Jackie, it was felt that the surgery could cause him to begin SMing. It is true that even though they cannot engage in the physical act, they do have hormonal issues. So, keep this in mind when attempting to put them with another male. This did become a source of emergency treatment for Jackie because he began SMing on his pom-pom. So, it had to be removed. ALSO, paralyzed gliders STINK! Please have no delusions about this. The boys still have scent glands, and they mark a bit more than my other boys ever did. Also, they are constantly dragging themselves through urine and feces, so that smell is added to the musky smell. Jackie required a daily wipe down with warm water (if you do this, keep them NEXT TO YOU until he/she is COMPLETELY dry!). The smell was lessened with appropriate diet
and even further so with the neuter. However, Jackie still smells. He can't help it. This is a result of paralysis. Having a cage mate has helped some in that she does groom him for me.
Usually, these are the things we do to eliminate smell, but with the paralyzed glider, we cannot keep them out of their urine - not to mention that Jackie regularly drags himself through the food bowl or across food on the cage liner, etc. In the end, I would recommend neutering.
Anything else I am forgetting to mention?