Trying to Troubleshoot...

Posted By: GliderLuvr

Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/17/17 08:54 PM

Hi everyone,
My little boy of 6 years is having some issues, and after several inconclusive vet visits (2 different opinions, one of whom works at our local zoo), I'm still concerned and frustrated. I'd be grateful for any advice/ shared experiences that may help explain/ determine what's going on and what I should do from here...Here are the facts/ variables summarized:
Symptoms: Though he typically grunts a little when first waking and pottying, he has been making grunting (sometimes whining) sounds periodically during the day, followed by urine and/or feces + occassional hissing...all very subtle and generally hard to catch...urine volume may be tiny drop to a large volume, with or without over-grooming or cloacal discoloration...otherwise appears healthy, though he's never been a super active glider (searches for treats and runs a little on wheel when he first wakes, then sits on hammocks, grooms some, eats some, sleeps a fair amount, etc.)
Vet Trips: urinalysis x2 (about 2 weeks apart)...first urinalysis (couple weeks ago) = some inflammatory cells (prescribed Metacam 4-5 days as anti-inflammatory)...symptoms subsided then, about 1 week later (as of today),'s (2nd) urinalysis was completely clear...I collected both urine samples with sterile syringe (samples were fresh, beads of urine on fleece), refrigerated, and delivered to vet (packed in ice) within 1 hour for prompt analysis
History: Male, 6 years old, neutered as soon as of age, has had crystals in urine in the past (about 2 years ago)...suspected dominant glider ate first leaving him (imbalanced) leftovers
Socialization: formerly housed 6 years with female cage mate (same age), female passed away 3 months ago due to antibiotic resistant bladder infection (vet's hypothesis, no necroscopy, not believed to be contagious + not infection detected in his urinalyses since), female was dominant glider, male is closely bonded to me (worn regularly, with pouch massages, several days/week for an average of 2-3 hours per day @ minimum + interacted with most nights when emerging from pouch/eating for about an hour), I am unable to get another cage mate as this was predetermined to be my last pair worried , cage is about 9-10 feet from the television
Housing: large cage (5'tallx2'deepx4'wide), Stealth wheel, treat bowls @ different levels, toys, foraging cups, hammocks, bottom tray wiped every day/other day (Suncoast cleaner or lemon juice), a few tiny rust spots developing, deep cleaning (soap/vinegar) about 1x/month, cage interior rearranged weekly basis, foraging cup cleaned every few days (only frozen peas, corn, or fresh meal worms added)
Diet: BML (diluted with water due to his history of crystals in urine...suspected he wasn't drinking well, though this may be improving) juice (versus pieces of apple) provided every couple days in addition to his water (bottled) since he doesn't like apple bits, he doesn't eat cherries and rarely blueberries, green beans, and carrots but loves peas, corn, and eats melon (watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe) + the grapes pretty well (prefers juices to the pulp though), receives 4-5 meal worms (typically separate from meal time)...wondered if feeding meal worms during day caused larger, fatty and harder-to-pass stools to build up in his bowels while sleeping...
Whew! That's a lot, but you never know what might be important! thumb I'm wondering what more I should try to do at this point. Something is definitely causing him discomfort (not as much as in the past when he was trying to pass the crystals in his urine), but I am hesitant to give him more Metacam (to alleviate discomfort) if there aren't inflammatory cells in his urine (what the vets typically prescribe if uncertain). Thanks for your time and advice! Kris :dizzy:
Posted By: Feather

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/17/17 11:45 PM

I am concerned that your vet hasn't put him on antibiotics for a possible UTI. Have you discussed this with your vet?
Posted By: GliderLuvr

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/18/17 02:08 AM

My vet didn't want to go the antibiotic route since there were no white blood cells found in the urinalysis to indicate an infection. Good reasoning?
Posted By: the gliders angel

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/18/17 09:46 AM

it still don't hurt to put him on antubiotics did the vet run a culture and sensitivity on the urine that will ck if there are crystals and rods in the urine
Posted By: GliderLuvr

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/20/17 03:31 PM

My vet did a stick, gravity, and looked at the urine under the microscope...said a culture is highly invasive to get direct access to the bladder (their urethra is the diameter of human hair). Based on the urinalysis, no bacteria found in the urine and no crystals. Would he still have an infection if not present in the urine? I wonder about his anal glands, but wouldn't that infection be detectable in urine, since it flows past the glands during elimination?
Posted By: the gliders angel

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/21/17 09:47 AM

a urine culture and sensitivitl is done by you collecting the urine by setting the glider on top of cage after you clean the cage with alcohol on top and hold a sterile cup under glider usually when he wakes up they pee I like the plastic small cups at the salad bars used for dressing and after the urine is collected run it right to the vet and they send it off usually for a week you get the results as to what type of bacteria they find and what the correct antibiotic is you can do the same with the stool but must be collected separately the same way and you have to be quick as some gliders pee and poop right after then the test wont work you can also run a fecal float and smear they are non invasive tests
Posted By: GliderLuvr

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/21/17 04:35 PM

No culture yet, and I'm certainly curious what that might reveal...So, here's a new question in relation to the culture: Does it matter if no white blood cells have been found in the smear (indicating infection, my understanding)? Also, isn't the culture contaminated unless collected directly in the bladder? My vet said the culture can't be accurate if urine passes through the cloaca since the feces also pass through. dunno
Posted By: the gliders angel

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/21/17 07:38 PM

ive done it with glider s in the past if the culture shows e coli that can be contamination but then it also shows other bacteria usually a list of bacteria true the sterile way is to collect it direct but bacteria that's in stool you already no a bout you can rule out its worked for me a I had a glider in the past that had uti s and a urine test showed crystals and rods another alternative is to try different antibioics and see after 4 days if he is acting better and if you see no improvement try another one that's what I would do
Posted By: the gliders angel

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/21/17 07:44 PM

I had a glider hiss and make sounds for 11 yrs when she urinated after reading your post on the symptoms again maybe it could be constipation they make grunting sounds too when they are having a hard time going try encouraging a little apple juice from the cap of a bottle of the small baby apple juices before you try anything else and see if he improves even though you might see him poop he might have a hard time getting it out apple uice I heard works well try that a few times a day
Posted By: GliderLuvr

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/21/17 11:34 PM

My little guy's symptoms escalated today. He began to strain frequently from about 11:30 until an emergency vet appointment at 3:30. He has been passing feces but little to no urine (a couple smudges versus droplets in the pouch). His occasional grunts escalated to strained cries mixed with angry crabbing and irritability, along with squinting and bearing down while trying to relieve himself, to no avail. :hbreak:

Vet report: Urinalysis still clear (no inflammation, no infection/bacteria, no crystals, and no blood)...had to get a radiograph (+ anesthesia for a clear radiograph). My vet found stones in his urethra, usually accompanied by blood but not in this case. Fortunately, his urethra isn't completely blocked (which would require surgery and is highly invasive/risky, leaves scar tissue, etc.). He doesn't want to urinate on his own right now due to pain; the vet massaged his bladder for relief and to collect the urine for testing. Fingers crossed, a blockage doesn't occur while he passes the stones. I did ask again about culturing the urine, but my vet stands by it not being sterile/accurate enough and extracting a sample from the bladder directly risks tearing the urethra (even under anesthesia). With no white blood cells or bacteria apparent in his urinalysis, he wants to address the stones first.

Treatment: Since my vet believes he is producing the stones versus the stones being a product of infection, I am to administer valium (an opiate/muscle relaxer) to encourage passing of the stones, then more radiographs in 48 hours to make sure they are gone.

Please say prayers for my little guy. I hope he feels well enough to eat tonight and can pass the stones without blockage. We are not sure if this is a genetic predisposition or diet-related. He is on the BML diet, though he tends not to touch the carrots, green beans, cantaloupe, honeydew, cherries, or blueberries...only really eats ALL the BML, peas, corn, and a little watermelon and grapes...and loves his mealies (4-5), of course. I plan to withhold the BML (calcium-rich) tonight and offer lots of melon, grapes, and a "buffet" of different fruit juices to encourage hydration. I am beginning to look at other diets, though it has been 2.5 years since he had the issue with crystals in his urine. Anyone else have similar experience (bladder stones/crystals) with BML, with improved results on a different diet?
Thanks for the advice shared thus far...all very valuable knowledge! Keeping fingers crossed...I may need some valium myself. :dizzy:
Posted By: Feather

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/22/17 01:05 AM

BML is a great diet, but the fact that he isn't eating the stuff that is supposed to offset the high Calcium in the staple diet I suggest you try another diet.

I myself use the Critterlove diets, check them out here:

Peggy will even send you out a sample of her diet. There are also fruit and vegetable "salad" mixtures that you feed with her staple.
Posted By: GliderLuvr

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/22/17 02:01 AM

Feather, how does the salad mixing #1-4 work? Do you find a mix they prefer and stick with it, or do you make all 4 at once and rotate them...or rotate with each new batch of the staple that's made (ie. every month or 2, depending on how long a package lasts per glider)? Do they not still just pick out what they like and leave the rest, throwing their diet off balance?
Posted By: Terry

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/22/17 02:09 AM

You can make any one of those salads. You can just make one and stick with it if they eat it well, I believe, they all provide variety. You can also make them up alternating between different mixtures, either mixing up one at a time or if you prefer, and have the storage to make up more than one at a time.
Posted By: the gliders angel

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/22/17 06:25 AM

if it were me I would try different antibiotics till one works try offering lots of liquids I had many yrs ago a deathly sick glider that I had to force feed only bml nothing else for a month and she recovered she ate no fruit or veggies just bml but she was on antibiotics tried 2 types till one of the 2 worked it takes 3 days to see improvement otherwise its the wrong one. any type of infection requires antibiotics I don't no why the vet said no to antibiotics if I had an infection my dr would give me an antibiotic if its really an infection valium is a relaxant it wont cure the infection. any abdominal surgery on these guys usually ends up that they lose too much blood and bleed out
Posted By: GliderLuvr

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/22/17 02:51 PM

Thanks, Terry and Feather! I will definitely consider the Critter Love diet. I just requested a free sample. The BML requires a few meal worms to balance it. How should meal worms be fed with the CritterLove...and apologies if we are shifting off the original topic. wink
Posted By: GliderLuvr

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/22/17 03:01 PM

Thanks, gliders angel, for the advice and concern. He was doing much better after the valium (urinating more freely, better flow, not nearly as uncomfortable, quite energetic, and had a good appetite for his favorite foods)... continuing to watch/listen to him closely for further strains or cries.
Regarding the antibiotics, there is no trace of infection (as of now), hence the doc's decision to avoid over-medicating, risking antibiotic resistance or potential drug side effects, and irritating his GI tract/intestinal flora at this time. There is evidence of kidney stones in his urethra, however, which is why valium was prescribed (to encourage those to pass through his system and not get trapped or held in if he is too uncomfortable to urinate). I believe stones are pretty common with ferrets as well. Stones are not always the product of an infection but can certainly cause infection if the bladder or urethra become blocked, among other complications (fortunately, he is urinating more freely now)...
This is my understanding of what my vet explained and what I have researched thus far. We may test him again for infection once the stones have passed, just to be sure nothing new has developed. He had a stone 2 years ago, which did present with crystals in his urine + bladder infection (blood and white blood cells), but this time, we needed an x-ray, since there were no traces of blood, infection, or crystals. Like people, some gliders apparently have the gentic predisposition for kidney stones. If this is the case, changing his diet may not help either, but I would certainly like to see him eating more variety for better balance. hug2
Posted By: Hutch

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/22/17 06:27 PM

You know, this makes me wonder about mine. I've had them checked a couple of times for consistently making noises while doing their businesses, but fecal & urine exams are clear. Hmmm...
Posted By: GliderLuvr

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/23/17 12:10 AM

X-rays aren't cheap (and often require anaesthesia for a clear image), but they are definitely a better assessment. You can also get a look at their bone density. I had an appointment already scheduled to see a different vet, when this vet's schedule opened sooner (and my little guy's condition quickly escalated from uncomfortable to emergency). I'm pretty sure my other vet would have used ultrasound to check his bladder for stones, which might have missed the stones in his urethra (tiny even on x-ray as their urethra is about the diameter of 2 human hairs and the stones are about the size of a sugar or salt granule) I'm definitely glad we got the x-ray and found something definitive.

Hutch, you might also want to ask about their anal/scent glands...just don't get them expressed as it could rupture them (as I have read elsewhere). Apparently, enlarged anal glands can present with similar symptoms as UTI and crystals. My little guy wasn't swollen, but I asked the vet to check in case.
Posted By: Feather

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/23/17 12:27 AM

As far as the salad mixtures go you pick one, feed it till it is gone then pick another salad mixture and do the same.

You may want to cut the recipes down as you don't have many to feed.
Posted By: the gliders angel

Re: Trying to Troubleshoot... - 06/23/17 06:34 AM

i hope this er vet sends you home with antibiotics keeo us updated I'm praying for the best
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