Recognizing and Treating Hind-Leg Paralysis in Sugar Gliders

Posted on: 6 July 2016


One of the more common medical problems associated with sugar gliders is hind-leg paralysis, or HLP, which is typically easily recognized by a loss of function in your pet's back legs. Whenever you notice your sugar glider dragging its hind legs like this, you must act immediately to get your pet to an exotic animal hospital and under the care of an experienced veterinarian. This condition is not only often treatable if acted upon quickly enough but also may be pointing to a less obvious medical issue that could pose a more significant risk to your glider. 

Understanding Why HLP Occurs

Hind-leg paralysis is caused by a lack of calcium being supplied to your sugar glider's bones, either due to a poor diet or because its body is channeling resources elsewhere. Weakened bones, muscles, and joints make it difficult for your glider to move around as usual, eventually causing it to drag itself by its front limbs. The sooner you recognize this disorder, the better the odds that it can be treated and reversed. 

Treating HLP with Calcium Shots

Once a veterinarian has confirmed that your sugar glider is suffering from HLP and not a broken bone or other issue, the next step is to begin supplementing its calcium intake. The fastest and most efficient way to do this is to take your glider in for regular injections, which are relatively inexpensive and will allow your veterinarian to track progress and monitor for setbacks. Your veterinarian may also recommend dietary changes for long-term management of this condition. 

Administering Calcium Drops at Home

If your glider's case of HLP is caught early enough, or if you feel that repeated trips to an exotic animal hospital may be too stressful for your pet, you may also have the option of administering calcium drops from home. This method is less effective and more prone to human error, but it can keep your glider in the safety of its home and could be all you need to get your furry friend back on its feet. When in doubt, follow the advice of your veterinarian. 

Finding the Larger Problem

When you bring your glider in to have its HLP diagnosed, your veterinarian may also recommend a small battery of other tests, depending on the prognosis. This is because HLP is often indicative of an underlying problem that your sugar glider might have an easier time hiding. If your glider is receiving all of its necessary calcium and other nutrients from its diet, where are these nutrients going? Discovering the answer to that question may be just as important as treating the HLP itself, and your local exotic animal veterinarian will be most likely to be able to pinpoint the larger issue and begin coming up with possible solutions. 

Visit a facility like TLC First Animal Hospital or talk with your veterinarian for more information.