Friday, July 31, 2009

Those of you who are ferret savvy - What do you think of what my vet said?

My new ferret that I've had for a week, a (we think) 9-month-old female, Calypso, seems to be sick.

She has little sesame seed looking things in her poop, slight (brown) diarrhea, little appetite, slight lethargy (she'll walk around but doesn't have the Get-Up-%26-Go to play), %26 the vet I brought her to today (for her first distemper vacc.) said she was a little dehydrated %26 that her belly is a bit pinker than he would liked.

He's a very nice guy %26 led me to believe that he is very knowledgeable about ferts because he worked at a vet. in Chicago that was doing research on ferrets %26 how to better their care.

He squished around her middle to see if she had anything obviously stuck in her tract, gave her subcutaneous (under the skin) fluids for the dehydration, advised me to buy Feline A/D %26 give her a little a few times a day, %26 said that if she didn't poop, or had more funky poops, to bring her to another vet in the city (I live 40 miles from New Orleans) where she can get X-Rays.
The reason the poop looks seedy is due to undigested protein. Ferrets can go downhill rather quickly because they are very good at hiding weakness and illness. By the time symptoms are present, the problem has been developing for a while. The Feline A/D is pretty standard for ferrets. Plain pedialyte is good for dehydration. Plain petroleum jelly is a very good laxative and ferrets love it. They will lick it right off your finger.

Her symptoms could very well be the stress of a new home, new food, new ferret, etc. Sounds like your vet knows his ferrets, but I'd want as much as possible done for my ferret's health and my own peace of mind. I'm not comfortable that he did't do some bloodwork and take x-rays then.

The good thing is that she's young and ferrets bounce back quickly once treated. You may end up having to syringe-feed her to make sure she gets enough food and water - every 3-4 hours 'round the clock. Another good food for an ailing ferret is Gerber Stage 2 baby food, chicken, turkey or beef. Ferrets are obligate carnivores and need a lot of protein.

Good luck and lots of good thoughts and prayers to you and your fuzzy.
Is she neutered? Could be anaemia
Sounds like your ferret has tapeworms (that would be the "little sesame seed looking things" in her feces).
Ferrets have very short intestinal tracts, so intestinal worms can make them very sick. Ask your vet for worming medicine. I never had to use it with my ferret, but they may be able to take Cestex for the worms (it's what I use for my dogs and cats), check with the vet to be sure, though.
OK...I'm a little concerned that the vet didn't just take the x-ray and perform blood-work that day CONCIDERING you are so far away. He could have given you the results of the x-ray before you even left the office AND the results to the blood-work would have been ready when you came back with the other ferret (Ghost). ?? It just seems as though it would have been easier to handle it this way.

Regarding the ECE: You would be noticing green slimey poops. Most young ferrets who do contract it (although the disease is not as prevalent now then before) are strong enough to live through the virus with supportive care. If an older ferret OR a ferret that is not a carrier contracts ECE they are usually goners. I don't think you have to worry about ECE here.

On the other hand, maybe he just figures it is nothing. That would explain why he handled it the way he did. Fact of the matter is "seedy" looking poops as well as just plain 'ol diarrhea in ferrets could be symptoms for 1,000 different things. Possibly your vet is taking the more lax approach figuring it is nothing to worry about. You say this is a "new" ferret. His seedy, diarrhea-like poop could just be because he is getting used to the food you are feeding him. It could even be the stress of being in a new home.

Here is my advice: Give the ferret the laxative gell stuff. It is possible he got a-hold of something he shouldent have. Best to be on the safe side. Next...ferret proof your home. As you know ferrets get into places that you cannot. Move furniture, vacuum and wash out under radiators, etc., etc. just to make sure there is nothing around that either of your ferrets can ingest that they are not supposed to. If anything changes or gets worse take her back to the vet and demand the x-ray and blood-work ASAP. It may also be better for the vet to keep her over-night for observation. It is a minimal fee...about 16-18 dollars. Not too bad for piece of mind.

Good luck!

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