08/10/2011 at 09:00 AM EDT
Waking up to a trail of drool on the cheek is unpleasant for anyone, but for one koala in Australia, saliva was endangering her life.
After suffering from the very rare condition sialosis, or excessive drooling, 2-year-old Sprinkles developed a skin infection. According to the Australian Associated Press
, the excess moisture from her mouth kept the infection from healing properly. She couldn't eat normally, was losing weight and needed a serious intervention.
"It's constant drooling, especially when she's about to eat, or she's nervous," says Dr. Rod Straw of the Brisbane Veterinary Specialist Centre. "It just stars pouring out round her face and down her legs."
Luckily for Sprinkles, who already suffered an ordeal when her mother died after being hit by a car, veterinarians were willing to give her an unusual radiation treatment – one used on human cancer patients. The radiation therapy will hopefully decrease the function in Sprinkles's salivary glands. She's already received her first treatment, and will continue to receive treatment next week.