Q: I have been looking everywhere for some sort of anatomy image for my ferrets. One of my little ferrets has a small foreign body in the GI tract. The vet has prescribed laxative, because the X-rays showed it was small enough to pass. He also said to palpate the abdomen to look for any changes, distension or pain. My ferret has been on the treatment for a day and has not passed the foreign body. When I palpate him he does not show signs of pain, and I do not feel anything different — although it is hard to palpate when I only have a vague idea of the ferret anatomy to begin with! His tummy isn’t tense, and he definitely is not lethargic. He’s eating and drinking like normal.
A: Some books, mostly technical veterinary books, have pictures of radiographs and illustrations of a ferret’s abdominal anatomy. But I doubt these will help you much in pursuit of palpating this foreign object. Even if you did palpate the object, it would not help very much in the expulsion of the object.
Two ways exist to get rid of a gastrointestinal foreign body in ferrets.
1. One way is to let the ferret naturally eliminate it. The use of a ferret laxative helps the passage of these objects sooner than if you did not use any laxative at all. If the objects are very small, if they do not have sharp edges, and if they are not contaminated with a toxic substance, then using this method may work. Rather than palpating his abdomen, you might be better off checking your ferret’s stool each day for this object.
2. The other method for ridding the body of this object is to either do surgery or use an endoscope and retrieve it in that manner. In most cases, if the ferret is otherwise healthy, these are low-risk procedures and your ferret is usually ready to go home the next day.
If the ferret laxative method does not work, and this can take days to be successful, you can still go the surgical route and retrieve the object that way.