Part 2 in our series on common medical conditions. Check out Common Ferret Medical Conditions Part 1.
My ferret has diarrhea!
This is a serious situation for a ferret as it can cause dehydration and can be a symptom of a much bigger problem. It can be caused by something as simple as dairy products (big no-no for ferrets) or a complicated disease process. Either way, it needs to be addressed quickly.
If the stool is orange or yellowish green, it probably means the food didn’t spend enough time in the short digestive track. If it’s more on the green side, you could be dealing with ECE (Epizootic Catarrhal Enteritis). We’ve had this at our house. It is not only life threatening to your ferret, but very contagious and messy and very stinky! If the stool is a normal color, but just loose, you can try giving him some Pepto Bismol (liquid or crushed tablet) or get your vet to prescribe you some Amforol.
As soon as you notice your ferret has diarrhea, monitor him closely and if he becomes lethargic or begins vomitting, find a vet immediately. If he still seems alert and mobile, go ahead and give him some Duk Soup, Nutri-Cal or Furo-Vite.
One of which you should always have on hand!
My ferret is vomiting!
This could be a very small problem, or a very big one. Assess the situation to figure out if a trip to the vet is on order. Ferrets do sometimes vomit from excitement, stress, a change of diet, or overeating, but if it’s repetitive or if there are any signs of blood, get to a vet. Ferrets do also get “hairballs” during shedding seasons similar to cats. Although, with ferrets, hairballs can cause intestinal blockages occasionally so I always like to keep Ferret Lax on hand. Especially during shedding seasons, I use it as a preventative measure even when there isn’t a sign of a problem. You can get some by clicking the Ferret Lax link to the right.
My ferret is acting like he has the Flu! (lethargy, sneezing, watery eyes, etc.)
They can actually catch human flu! I know, I was surprised too. Usually it clears up on its own just like humans. They will rest a lot and you need to make sure they are getting plenty to eat and drink. This is another good time to break out the Duk Soup, Nutri-Cal or Furo-Vite. If it lasts more than a few days or your ferret stops eating or drinking all together, a trip to the vet is in order.
My ferret has a broken tooth!
They chew everything so sometimes it happens. If it’s just the tip, a slight discoloration may occur, but it’s generally nothing to worry about. If the break is further down the tooth, it will cause pain and will probably need to be removed by your vet.
My ferret is hacking/coughing!
The occasional cough may be just dust or a “hairball”. Again, try the Ferret Lax and see if it helps. A persistent cough may be a bacterial or viral infection that needs to be treated, or even more dangerous, cardiomyopathy. Here’s a few signs to look for:
• Persistent coughing. Especially if it interferes with eating and/or drinking.
• Yellow or green discharge from eyes and/or nose.
If you notice any of these signs, a trip to the vet is in order.
If your female is unspayed and it’s springtime she’s probably just going into heat. Since most female ferrets are spayed when you get them (by law in most states), the most common cause of this swelling is adrenal disease or an adrenal gland tumor. Again, a trip to the vet!