Q: What can ferret owners do before and during a ferret medical emergency to help a veterinarian make a diagnosis?
“My ferret got sick and I panicked! She was throwing up and then there was blood, and I was so upset I didn’t know what to do!”
This comes direct from a recent experience I had with an owner and his ferret. The vet called and said it didn’t sound good. I went over to give the owner a ride to the emergency hospital, expecting a dying animal. Instead I found a ferret who was weak, but still inquisitive and interested. The problem turned out to be a large hairball passing, and luckily she’s recovering fine. But this highlights helpful owner actions if faced with something similar.
If you have two or more ferrets and one seems unwell, separate the sick one from others. It’s the only way to know exactly what he or she is eating and eliminating.
Know the closest emergency hospital! Precious minutes might be lost while searching for one.
No one can diagnose a medical problem with an animal over the phone. From the owner’s description, both the vet and I thought she’d have to be put down. But seeing the ferret made it clear she was treatable.
Write down the symptoms. You can’t help if you’re an emotional person. But the vet needs to know exactly what happened and when. Notes can help you keep the details in order.
If there’s blood, draw the amount and note its color — bright red, very dark, tarry. Blood is scary and a little bit can look like “lots!” when you’re distraught. The vet can’t translate “lots!” but he or she can decipher a sketch of the volume. Collect any fresh specimens in a paper towel before heading to the vet office; they will also help the diagnosis. Keep calm and ferret on!