Sugar Glider Vet - The Veterinarian's Sugar Glider Resource
Common Treatment Protocols
The following are presented as basic guidelines to assist you with diagnosing and treating common ailments and injuries in sugar gliders. This is based upon best practices as established by the group of researchers and educators across 50+ years of combined experience.  This is not a definitive list
Due to their colony lifestyle, it is best to perform a fecal float and smear on the colony as a whole rather than on each individual.  Parasites are fairly common in sugar gliders and since they are only visible at certain times in the shed cycle, evaluating a larger fecal sample combined from different animals increases the chances of diagnosis.  If one colony member is positive for parasites, the entire colony MUST be treated to prevent reinfection.
Commonly seen parasites include:
Giardia spp.  (Giardia)
Eimeria spp  (Coccidia)
Parastrongyloides  (Strongyloides)
Paraustrostrongylus  (Strongyloides)
Athesmia (liver trematode)
It is important to determine if the owner feeds bee pollen in the diet as the pollen can mask the appearance of parasites and/or can result in a misdiagnosis of roundworm.  It may be recommended to stop feeding the pollen for a few days prior to the fecal test to increase test accuracy.
Treatment must include both medication and strict cage/environment disinfection/sterilization.  Cage and environment must be disinfected/sterilized DAILY throughout treatment.  All colony members must be treated concurrently.
  • Instruct pet parent to keep affected colony isolated from all other household animals and practice strict quarantine, including hand washing.
  • Provide pet parent with our "Instructions for Eliminating Parasites" handout (can be downloaded in our Pet Parent Information Sheets section).
  • Medications for 7-10 days  (common medications include Metronidazole or Panacur with either Baytril or Trimethoprim-Sulfa)
Perform repeat fecal float and smear at 30-45 days post-treatment
**** Please note that for Giardia, it is recommended to follow a treatment regime of medication for 3 days, then off 3 days then back on 3 days.
Broken Bone
Once you have established that there is a broken bone, establish if the bone can be pinned back together.  If so, discuss surgery with the pet parent.  If NOT, then the following are recommended:
  •    Oral calcium supplement for 30 days
  •    Provide pet parent with our "Broken Bone Aftercare Instructions" sheet (can be downloaded in our Pet Parent Information Sheets section)
  •    Instruct pet parent to maintain strict hospital cage for 14 days if broken bone is a leg - NO CLIMBING!
  •    IF broken bone is a foot or leg, ensure nails are well clipped and instruct pet parent to conduct nail clipping weekly.
  •    Provide pain management in the form of medication and/or laser therapy
  •    Re-check in 30 days.
Open Wound
In most cases, wounds in sugar gliders should heal through secondary intention.  Stitching or closing a wound is very irritating to a glider and often results in self mutilation to remove the stitching or glue.
  • Be SURE you leave a drain and instruct pet parent on its care
  • Provide pain medication for 3-7 days
  • Instruct pet parent to contact a glider owner experienced in wound rehabilitation from our contact list.
  • Oral or topical antibiotics should be prescribed (or both)
  • Instruct pet parent to keep wound clean and DRY - not covered in ointment all day.
  •  Instruct pet parent to keep cage and pouch clean and free of debris
  • Provide pain medication for 3-7 days
  • Oral or topical antibiotics should be prescribed (or both)
  • Instruct pet parent to keep wound clean and DRY - not covered in ointment all day
The MOST SUCCESSFUL treatment for open wounds is oral antibiotics (or Convenia shot) combined with Quickderm applied QD.  Wounds heal very quickly this way.
Other options for treating wounds include:
* QuickDerm
* Silvadine
* Zymox
* Malotic ointment
* Emu Oil
* Vitamin E
* Facilitator
* Neosporin/Polysporin
* Scarlet Oil
* Collasate
* Honey
* Granulex
* Trypzyme
Facial Abscess
Common signs of afacial abscess are:
  • Swelling of the face (may be slight or pronounced)
  • Appearance of the third eyelid
  • Protrusion of the eye
  • Ulceration of facial tissue
  • Discharge (may show as wet fur)
***It is important to r/o ear and dental infections as the source of symptoms. 
  • Incise and drain (drain may be placed to facilitate continued healing)
  • Collect exudate for culture
  • Debride necrotic/diseased tissue
  • Antibiotics for a minimum of 14 days
  • Pain medications for a minimum of 3 days
  • At home irrigation/cleaning with chlorhexidine or other topical medicament may be recommended; if so, proper technique should be demonstrated to pet parent
  • Pet parent should be instructed to keep area clean and dry
Follow up exams should be scheduled every 1-2 weeks until healing complete
Metabolic Bone Disease
Treatment for MBD in sugar gliders should seek to determine the underlying cause (bacterial infection, parasitic infection, malabsorbtion, hypervitaminosis A osteopathy, hyperparathyroidism) and treat the CAUSE at the same time as the symptoms.
  • Treatment should include increased calcium for a period of 3-6 weeks.  Calcium is best absorbed/processed by gliders when presented orally.  Consider a liquid calcium supplement.
  • Treatment should also include a discussion with the pet parent about overall diet and enrichment practices.  See our pet parent handouts for additonal information for pet parents.
Dental Abscess
Signs of a dental abscess in sugar gliders may include:
  • Excessive sneezing
  • Facial swelling
  • Changes in behavior, including increase in crabbing
  • Difficulty eating or refusal to eat harder foods
  • Displacement or mobility of teeth
  • bleeding of gums
  • Once dental abscess has been diagnosed, the glider will require extractions of the affected teeth
  • Whileunder anesthesia, a thorough dental exam should be done. 
  • Calculus may be present and can be removed with either an ultrasonic or hand scaler. 
  • Any mobile or infected teeth should be extracted to prevent future infection.
  • Irrigation with chlorhexidineis beneficial. 
  • Pain medications shouldbe prescribed for a minimum of 3 days
  • oral antibiotic (for minimum of 14 days) if slow release injectible one was not used. 
  • A culture of the extracted teeth and/or the exudate should be performed as multiple bacteria may be present which are not sensitive to the same antibiotic.
In some cases, the pet parent should be instructed to irrigate the mouth with chlorhexidine.  Proper technique should be demonstrated and the importance of preventing aspiration of the medicament stressed.  The pet parent should be instructed to offer softer foods for a few days.  In cases of multiple extractions, permanent modifications to the diet may be required. 
  • Treat the primary cause of the dehydration
  • Re-hydrate orally if not critical. 
  • For critical cases, administer sub-q fluids
  • Instruct pet parent how to administer sub-q fluids.  Provide pre-measured syringes of fluid and instruct pet parent to administer Q2-4 hours and to re-check hydration every hour.
  • Instruct pet parent to provide fluids orally in addition - preferably pedialyte or gatorade
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