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Milk coming out of squirrel's nose.

Species: Other
Breed: Squirrel
Age: Less than 3 mon
I have an orphaned squirrel that doesn't have his eyes open yet. He has aspirated some milk formula. I have information that says this will lead to pneomonia. There is no vets open today to get an antibiotic. What do I do?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh my, this is a tough question. If the squirrel has truly aspirated some milk forumla this means that he has breathed the milk into his lungs. If this is the case then there are several possible outcomes:

1. It may be a small enough amount that it won't affect him at all.

2. It could be a large enough amount the he could possibly drown. Unfortunately there isn't much you can do to prevent that without veterinary care.

3. It could be that a small amount of milk got into the airways and over the next few days this can cause some infection. Infection is what leads to aspiration pneumonia.

If this were a dog or cat then my treatment would depend on how the animal were doing. (The treatment is likely the same for squirrel, but I'll be honest with you - I don't do much squirrel medicine!) If the animal was struggling to breathe then I would administer oxygen and possibly sedate the animal and put in an endotracheal tube to help me to administer oxygen effectively.

If the animal seemed fine then if I would monitor him over the next few days. If he was coughing or lethargic then I'd likely take an xray to see the extent of the damage and then probably start antibiotics.

Orphaned wildlife care can be difficult. I wish I could give you better advice but I can't see that there is a whole lot that you can do.

Is the squirrel having obvious problems?


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

He is not lethargic. I can hear a slight wheezing sound, and when he tries to eat a small amount of milk comes from his nose.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hmm...what you are seeing doesn't sound like aspiration pneumonia. If there was enough milk in his lungs that it is coming out his nose he would really really be struggling to breathe.

I'm wondering if he could have been born with a cleft palate. If he allows you to look at him, have a good look at the roof of his mouth. If there is a severe cleft palate then you may see that there is a space that extends down the middle of the roof of his mouth. Sometimes it's not that obvious though.

When an animal with a cleft palate tries to drink, the tongue pushes the milk up through the hole in the palate and it can go into the nasal cavity.

Unfortunately if there is a cleft palate there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes with dogs and cats if the palate is not too severe you can still manage to get enough food in for them to survive and then when they are big enough they can have surgery to fit the hole.

If this is a cleft palate (which really is the most likely explanation for milk to be coming out of the squirrel's nose) then this could be the reason that the squirrel was orphaned. Often when an animal is born with a deformity, the mom will abandon the animal rather than spending energy on an animal that is not likely to survive.

There still is a chance for the little guy, but there's not a whole lot more that you can be doing for him unfortunately.



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.