Message Number: YG5467 | New FHL Archives Search
From: katharine
Date: 2001-07-13 18:26:00 UTC
Subject: Re: hind limb weakness

Regina wrote:
<I ask because I wonder if there's any kind of
physical therapy that
can help hold the weakness at bay. I know that
because it is a
symptom of other things, it can't be "cured." I'm
just hoping
there's a way to help preserve Amelia's mobility
as her insulinoma

I love Ulrike's terminology of "off their legs".
I call it "down in the rear".

I had an opossum develop Metabolic Bone Disease
last fall and one of the first symptoms is that
they go "down in the rear", i.e. lose the use of
their rear legs. The veterinarian in California
that I consulted with gave me a series of
exercises for Caleb. Along with a very specific
diet (improper diet is what causes MBD), he was
good as new after a period of time and was
released back into the wild (well, actually into
someone's wooded back yard so he could be

1. Swimming. I put Caleb into a little harness
(one of those you can get for iguanas), filled the
garage sink with warm water just deep enough that
he couldn't touch bottom and put him in, forcing
him to work his legs to stay afloat. He
absolutely hated it and pooped all in the water
but I made him do it for 5-10 minutes every day.
I actually kept my hand under his belly to give
him some security but he instinctively worked
those little legs, mostly trying to figure out how
to get out!

2. Range of Motion. I would put him in my lap
2-3 times a day and work his legs in their natural
movements. You need to carefully watch your other
ferrets to see just how they do move their legs,
including the range, and move Amelia's the same
way. I usually did several repetitions. You need
to go forward, backward, upward, downward, inward
and outward (did I leave any out?). It is very
important that you don't force anything and follow
the natural movements.

3. Climbing. I got a cushion from a lawn chair
that has a seat and back and folds in the middle.
I put it in an upside down "v" shape and put Caleb
at the bottom. I then proceeded to pinch his
little behind to make him climb. He would climb
to the top, survey his kingdom, then I would make
him climb down. My husband keeps trying to throw
out my treasured cushion and I won't let him!
Never know when I might need it again.

I think we started with the range of motion, added
the swimming after a few days, and then graduated
to climbing.

I have no idea if any of these would work with a
ferret or for this type of problem but I don't
think it would hurt.