Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ferrets- Gastric Ulcers

Dates are wrong on all photos below.OOPs... Battery reset.

Recently my poor Spanx become very ill and lost about half his body weight in a week and 3 days!

Ferret Ulcers

When you hear "Ulcer" you may think that it is something that may pass or something that is not that dire. But in reality it can kill you ferret very quickly! Do to weight loss, dehydration, and basically starvation. An ulcer lowers the digestibility of the ferrets food. Which in return lowers the nutrients in the body and causes vomiting and diarrhea, black tar stool & green mucus stool. Ulcers also bleed which causes the ferret to become animic. This blood is what makes the stool black tar colored.
Ferrets must eat every couple of hours to keep their energy & weight. When a ferret stops eating it can go into organ failure quickly . A ferret eats and with in 2 to 3 hours excretes that food. And the cycle begins again. So ferrets must keep eating. When they have an ulcer they will stop or significantly slow their eating.
So that is one of your first symptoms.
My Spanx lost weight at around .5oz to 1.5oz a day. When a ferret only ways 2lb 9oz to begin with this is a very drastic loss. Within a week he was down to 1lb 13oz.

Weight loss
Teeth Grinding
anorexia- Stopped eating
Stool: Grainy, slimy, black tar looking, can also be other colors, Diarriha
Increased water intake

Teeth grinding is another serious symptom. If you have never seen a ferret grind its teeth you may not know what I am talking about. But a ferret will grinding its back teeth making its eyes look like they are going in and out of his head. This indicates extreme stomach pain. Which normally refers to an ulcer or blockage of some sort. teeth grinding again is a very important symptom!

Dehydration happens quickly with ferrets. And one of the leading causes of death when it comes to ulcers. If you ferret gets dehydrated it is very important to get them to the vet. But with the ulcer it is very important all on its own. But make sure you vet gives your fuzzy IV fluids so they do not get dehydrated. My vet sent home on IV fluid bag for me to give him. I was giving him 20ccs every 12 hours. After I started getting more food into him I took it doen to 20ccs once a day. After a few good days of syringe feeding him atleast 90 to 120ccs I stopped the fluides. Because there was alot of liqiud in the Syringe feeding.


During the Doctors visit your vet will feel for intestinal obstructions and which is very important. He she doesn't feel anything she may want to do an ultra sound or x-ray just to be certain. An intestinal obstruction is deadly. If she does an ultra sound they can check things like the adrenal gland aswell. Which is an added plus. The ultrasound ran me about $80. which isn't bad at all. She didn't do the ultra sound till the 2nd visit though. If all signs point to an ulcer try not to be alarmed. That is better then alot of things. Although still scary and still can cause death if treated right your fuzzy should recover in a hurry. There could be underlying causes such as adrenal gland disease or insolinoma, as well as others. For an ultrasound your fuzzies belly will have to be shaved. Make sure the tech who shaves it knows how thin and senstive a ferrets skin is. I took this for granted knowing how ruff they play so I never really thought about it. But the tech shaved Spanx wasn't told how thin there ferret skin was and she knicked his poor litte belly and they had to put glue stitches on him. So if stress caused the ulcer the vet didn't help much withthe stress. But the vet I seen was very nice and helped us alot. She has answered every question I have presented to her. ( Th pic is about 2 weeks after the cut him with the trimmers.)

A CBC will probably also be taken and that will run around $1oo to $120 depending on what kind of lab runs the blood work. Ferrets are really hard to get blood sample from and my poor Spanx was a pin cushion. They also had to shave his neck.

After this if it is decided that an ulcer is the problem your fuzzy will be put on some meds.
Amoxicillin & metronidazole whish are both anti biotics and Carafate for his tummy. All this medication is extremly important.
Spanx was Prescribed
Amoxicillin .5ml every 12 hours
Metronidazole .15ml every 12 hours
Carafate liquid- 2.5ml every 8 hours ( But I only gave .5 to 1ml)
(They have with the new prescription lowers it to .5 to 1ml. so my dosing was right)
They also have carafate in pill form which is called something else. It can be crushed mixed with water and given to your ferret.
There are also other antibiotics that can help. If your fuzzy does not respond to these then he could be treated with Biaxin (Clarithronycin) But it is very expensive. Around $80 for a 10 day cycle.

It is very important to work out a good med schdule and kep to it. The stomach meds need to be given after the antibitics so that the antibiotics can be obsurbed. So Give the antibiotics about 15 to 30 minutes before the tummy meds.
Also wait 30 minutes before giving him food.

Syringe feeding
Syringe feeding your ferret. My ferret had never had any other food then Marshels. Which I have now changed to EVO. When he started losing the weight I started tryig to feed him chicken baby food. He had no interrest. So try to get your ferrets to eat other foods before you need them to. After I mixed up a concoction of sorts and force feed him a couple times. He figured out either I wasn't going to leave im alone or that he liked it. But by the end of syringe feeding he loved it and would much rather be syringe fed then eat from the bowl.

Spanx's Mix
1 Jars chicken baby food w/ broth (not gravy)
1/2 can of A/D cat food
2 Tbsp blended EVO ferret food
1 Tbsp of duck soup powder (all mixed duck soup must be used in 24 hours)
Pedialyte to thin out the mix to a thick paste
1 to 2 Tbsp Ferret Vite ( I used 2 when I first started, then took it to one)

He really loved this mix. I think the duck soup powder smells funny though.
I started out just giving him a few CC's at a time. But the more I fed him the more he wanted it. I gave him 20 to 30 ccs the first day... and worked my way up form there. Start them out on food slowly if they have not been eating. Every for hours they will need around 15 ccs of food. But you have to work your way up to that. To gain his weight back Spanx was eating between 100cc's and 180ccs a day. Sometimes close to 200cc's. the recipe above does not make alot. Just enough for half a day to a day. You can get syringes from your vet so you know how much he is taking in.

After we started feeding him enough he agined back his strength fast. With in a day he was up and about and couldn't wait to be fed. When we first started feeding him extra I didn't know if he would make it through the night or that weekend. Its amazing what food and water can do for a very ill ferret. I'm sure the meds helped alot too. He gained from .5 to 1.5 oz a day. Normally around 1oz a day.

Helicobactor- This is a gram-neg bactoria that is believed to cause ulcers in humans and now also believed to cause them in ferrets and other animals. Sind this is a bacteria it is treated with antibiotics.

Poor Santitation
an underlying health problem such as adrenal gland diesease.

Prevention is the key!

After a ferret has an ulcer it is predisposed to have another.So watch them carefully.

Temp: 100F- 103F
Heart: 216- 250BMP
Resp: 33- 36 per min
Fasting Glucose at 4 to 6 hours: 65- 164

Spanx has been doing alot better. After 20 days of Amoxi and Carafate and ten days of Metronidazole. His tool went back to normal and he gained all his weight back. Although he still has a naked belly.

Over the last week though his stool has started turning a different color and has mucus in it again so he is starting another round of meds. This time amoxi, metronidazole, & carafate for a month. If it is helebactor it can take a while to treat. If that doesn't help then the Biaxin will be started . He also has to go through more blood work to see about adrenal gland disease. They did not see is adrenal gland on the ultrasound which is really good. But he has experioused hair loss on his tail. Not at the base which is where it normally starts for adrenal gland disease. But just to be safe we are going to do more blood work in the near furture. Because you never know if there is another under lying problem.

Please keep him in your prays.
If you have any questions on this ailment or other ferret ailments please let me know. I will answer them or have my vet answer them.

Update: add fish oil. A few drops a day to the ferrets food. I add 1 whole capsule squeezed into lil droplets on the food every week for 2 ferrets. They have grown back most of there hair.Just having them on meds I have had to remedicate... but since starting them fish oil..knock on wood... they haven't had anymore problems.

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