The Ferret Owners Manual

Diarrhea/ECE – Diarrhea in a ferret should always be treated aggressively. If your ferret stops eating and drinking for any length of time, it’s a sure sign of illness and worth a trip to the veterinarian. Pay particular attention to signs of dehydration which can quickly lead to death. Often this is due to a prolonged bout of diarrhea.

One quick check is to grasp the skin over the ferret’s neck and shoulder area as if you were going to pick him up by the scruff. Release the skin and it should quickly spring back into place. If it does not, this is a sign of severe dehydration and that you need to get your ferret to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

In the case of several consecutive episodes of diarrhea, and you can not get to a vet right away, Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate, administered in 1/3 – 1 ec doses two to four times a day (check with your vet first), may control it until you can actually get your ferret to the vet. If the ferret reacts violently to the Pepto Bismol, particularly if he vomits, Kaopectate is a second choice. The animal will need plenty of liquids too, even if you have to trickle it into his mouth with a syringe or eyedropper. Pedialyte is recommended (unless the ferret is insulinomic), but water will do if you don’t have the pedialyte. (Be very careful he doesn’t inhale the liquid. Place the syringe or eyedropper in the corner of his mouth, between the teeth and lips, then trickle in the liquid just fast enough for the ferret to “lap” it. Remember, prolonged diarrhea is life-threatening to an animal as small as a ferret. Get the ferret to a vet a soon as possible.

If your ferret is vomiting, you might try to give him some heavy peach syrup (the kind that canned peaches are packed in). About 1 ml of the syrup will often calm the stomach. Remember, though, that vomiting is one of the signs of a partial or complete intestinal blockage which may require immediate veterinary treatment.

If you are concerned that your ferret is not eating, first make sure he really is not eating. Confine him to his cage. Make sure the litter box is freshly dipped and that there is a measured amount of food and water so that you can track both input and output carefully. You may find that your critter has a stash of food someplace and is chowing down regularly out of sight.

One recipe that very often works to stimulate the appetite of a sick ferret is called Duck Soup, named in honor of a ferret named Lucky Duck, for whom the recipe was first concocted.


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