As with any pet owner, seeing your pet, in this case, you cute little ferret cough would make many quite anxious. It’s important for you to know that coughing is fairly common among ferrets, similar to other animals.
Coughing is defined as a forceful release of air from the lungs that can be heard. Air is exhaled through the mouth or throat and can be caused by a variety of factors. Coughing is a reflex that is triggered when an irritant stimulates one or more of the cough receptors located within the respiratory system and coughing is the body’s natural defense mechanism to protect the respiratory system by clearing it of secretions and irritants.
Causes of Coughing in Ferrets
There are a number of causes for ferrets which differ from case to case. Oftentimes an upper respiratory tract disorder or viral infection, including the flu is to blame. Some other causes owners should keep in mind are the following:
- Sinusitis. Sinusitis is inflammation of the air cavities within the passages of the nose.
- Rhinitis. Rhinitis is the irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose.
- Inflammation. Inflammation or irritation of the tracheal pipe within the airway system.
- Infections of the ear, nose, and throat
- Pulmonary swelling, tumors, or pneumonia
- Environmental factors (i.e., unhygienic conditions that can contribute to nasal and oral irritation)
It is also possible that something you are using is irritating or aggravating your pet. Your little friend may be sensitive to the contents of a particular product that you are using, be it the dryer sheets or your laundry detergent. Other things that you could look at include the air fresheners as well as candles that you may be using in your home. Note if your pet’s little eyes are tearing up or coughs and sneezes when you use a specific item.
Medication for Your Pet
If your pet ferret is dealing with a stubborn cough, you may give them children’s Benadryl. Answers as to the volume varies but generally speaking, a safe amount to give your pet is about 0.5cc of it. A more accurate dosage guide for using children’s Benadryl is 12.5mg/ 5mL and given 0.5 – 2mg/kg orally and can be given two to three times a day.
For a small ferret that weighs about 2.5 lbs. estimated at about 1kg, a recommended dosage would be 0.25mL to 0.8mL to be given every 8 to 12 hours. Medical professionals usually recommend starting at the lowest dosage; 0.25mL and pet owners may increase the recommended dosage as needed.
As a reminder, make sure to get the syrup that is only a cough suppressant and not the medication that contains acetaminophen, ibuprofen, Tylenol and other ingredients that may be harmful to your pet.
Usually, ferrets that are hacking and rasping, which can be likened to a cat coughing on cat hair, are suffering from gastric trichobezoar. Sounds pretty serious right? But in layman’s terms, that’s basically a ferret coughing on ferret hair.
Seasonal changes cause ferrets to change their coats and the coat that will be shed will end up floating around in the air and will stick on everything including your pet’s food and noses. When pets shed their coats or groom or eat, the hair in the air may be swallowed and if many are ingested, they can clump up and form a pretty frustrating hairball.
Unfortunately, ferrets are not so skilled at coughing out hairballs like cats and intestinal blockages can be life-threatening if not treated properly. The hairball can get stuck in the passage or cause complications like indigestion that may lead to malnutrition and dehydration. Another scenario is when the hairballs block the intestines that may lead to cutting of the blood supply causing shock and even death to your beloved pet.
To prevent hairball, minimizing exposure to hair is a great way to help you pay. You may wish to brush your ferret’s hair in an external environment away from their general roaming area, bathing them as well as possibly using a gentle pet vacuum that will assist the shedding process.
Should you already have a hairball situation, you could use a cat hairball laxative which uses a paste substance that will help guide the hair through your pet’s digestive system. You can give ¼ teaspoon of this every other day and less during the non-shedding seasons.
If you’ve tried these remedies and should symptoms continue or escalate after 3 to 5 days, it would be best to consult and talk to your veterinary to know what the cause could be.