By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
I’ve had my ferret now for about five years. I love him to death but for the past month he’s had the runs. He’s losing so much weight that when he runs he just trips over himself. He’s so clumsy now it’s heartbreaking to watch. Today my wife tells me that he refused to eat. He’ll only eat the vitamin paste that we got at the pet store. We would love to take him to the vet, but don’t have the funds and the nearest vet that would see a ferret is over an hour drive. Can you please help?
Chronic diarrhea is a very serious problem in any animal, but especially in a ferret as they are so lean and really cannot afford to lose much weight. Chronic diarrhea zaps an animal of its strength as they lose protein, electrolytes, vitamins and fluids from their intestinal tract.
If not treated, ferrets will die from the diarrhea. It is extremely important that while your ferret has diarrhea, that he ingest extra amounts of fluid and nutrients to overcome the tremendous losses of these nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract.
When your ferret has diarrhea, treatment needs to be directed at the cause of the diarrhea and replacing these lost nutrients. In your ferret’s case, unfortunately, the only way to help your ferret is to visit a veterinarian. Perhaps there is a ferret club in your area that can recommend a veterinarian closer to you who is knowledgeable about ferrets.
I understand and sympathize with you about the costs of diagnostics and treatment, especially in a sick ferret. There are sometimes difficult choices that need to be made when the health of your ferret rests upon your decisions. That is why finding a veterinarian who understands ferrets and one you feel comfortable with is so important. He or she will know what your ferret needs and understand what you believe is feasible.