What are Hind Leg Weakness?

If you notice your ferret having trouble standing on his back legs or dragging his legs as he walks, this indicates he is experiencing hind leg weakness. This condition can also be accompanied by loss of control over urination and defecation. If you spot these symptoms, it’s important to take your ferret to a veterinarian for treatment as soon as possible. 

Posterior paresis is the term used to describe weakness in the rear legs. This is fairly common in ferrets, and it can be caused by a number of different conditions that range in severity. Some causes, such as obesity and bacterial or fungal infections, can be easily treated by a veterinarian. But others such as heart disease or metabolic disease are more difficult to treat. It’s possible that the condition causing your ferret’s hind leg weakness is fatal, which is the case with canine distemper virus.

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Symptoms of Hind Leg Weakness in Ferrets

The most common symptom of posterior paresis is weakness in the ferret’s back legs. Your ferret may begin to drag his hind legs while walking or have difficulty standing up altogether. If he does stand up, it may only be for a short period of time. Ferrets with hind leg weakness may also be unable to control urination and defecation.

Causes of Hind Leg Weakness in Ferrets

There are several causes of hind leg weakness that ferret owners should know about. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Bacterial or fungal infections
  • Metabolic disease
  • Heart disease
  • Canine distemper virus
  • Abdominal tumors
  • Neurological disease
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Anemia
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Obesity

Diagnosis of Hind Leg Weakness in Ferrets

If your ferret begins to exhibit signs of hind leg weakness, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Describe the symptoms you have observed to the vet. You should also mention when you first began to notice your ferret experiencing hind leg weakness. 

Because there are so many causes of hind leg weakness, the vet will need to perform various tests to determine the underlying condition. First, a complete blood count, blood chemistry profile, and urinalysis test will help the vet look for signs of infections, hypoglycemia, or anemia. 

X-rays and ultrasounds can also be performed to look for signs of trauma or tumors in the abdomen. It is likely that your vet will also perform an echocardiography to determine if heart disease could be causing the hind leg weakness.

Finally, the vet may also carefully take a sample of cerebrospinal fluid from your ferret’s skull. The sample will be analyzed by the vet to help identify any neurological or central nervous system disorders that could be causing the hind leg weakness.

Treatment of Hind Leg Weakness in Ferrets

The treatment of hind leg weakness varies greatly depending on the underlying cause. Some treatments are minor. For example, if your ferret has hind leg weakness because he is overweight, the vet will recommend a diet that will help your ferret lose weight and regain control over his back legs. Treatment for infections usually consists of medication that is administered over the course of seven to ten days. But, treatment for other conditions such as heart disease or abdominal tumors is not so simple. Ferrets may require surgery or various medications to treat the more severe causes of hind leg weakness. Some causes of hind leg weakness, such as canine distemper virus, are fatal and cannot be treated. 

If the underlying cause of the hind leg weakness is treatable and your ferret is experiencing extreme weakness, he may need to be monitored by a vet during treatment. 

Recovery of Hind Leg Weakness in Ferrets

It is difficult to say whether your ferret will recover from hind leg weakness. The chances of your ferret making a full recovery will depend on the underlying cause of the condition. 

Once you bring your ferret home, it’s important to keep him calm and comfortable while he recovers. He will not have much control over his hind legs until he has fully recovered, so you should ensure his bedding is kept clean and he is repositioned every few hours to prevent sores.

Ferrets often have no control over urination and defecation when they have hind leg weakness. If your ferret is experiencing this, it’s important to keep his genital and rectal areas clean until he has recovered. In some cases, the ferret will be unable to empty his own bladder. If this happens to your ferret, the vet will need to manually empty the bladder using a catheter.

Talk to your vet about whether you need to modify your ferret’s diet while he recovers. If your ferret cannot control his bowel movements, your vet may want you to make slight changes until the animal has regained control over his lower body.