A pet with diarrhea is unsettling for any pet owner but it’s important not to panic and keep in mind that for animals, including ferrets, there several different types as well as causes of diarrhea in ferrets.
Although diarrhea is relatively common among animals, like humans, diarrhea may actually be a secondary symptom to another condition, be it gastrointestinal problems, food poisoning or another condition.
As part of responsible pet care, when you tidy after your fuzzy pet, be sure to take a look at their release each time. Be aware of what is normal poop looks like so that you will recognize a problem when you see changes in their expelled feces.
Normal ferret poop is generally quite soft but it still has some form to it so it’s important that you know what it looks like when your pet is ok.
Diarrhea occurs when the stool becomes softer and more liquid in form and/or there is an increase or abnormality in the frequency of defecation. Ferrets do get diarrhea from time to time so if the abnormality is gone within 24 hours, you ferret is ok but if it is persistent, there may be a larger issue to address.
Diarrhea can be life threatening because of the possibility of dehydration and animals as small as ferrets and given their small digestive systems, it won’t take too much time for ferrets to be seriously affected by diarrhea.
Causes of Ferret Diarrhea
As previously mentioned, there are many different causes for diarrhea, some of it may include the following:
- A poor nutritional diet
- An adverse drug or environmental reaction
- An upset stomach due to something that was eaten
- Stress and anxiety
- Viruses, Parasites or Bacteria (i.e. rotavirus, the corona virus, helicobacter mustelae, campylobacter jejuni and salmonella, ECE)
- Gastrointestinal Irritation
- Lymphoma or lymph nodes cancer, spleen, and other organs including the intestines
Try not to focus solely on the diarrhea but also observe other accompanying symptoms, if any, including loose stools, malabsorption (stools have the appearance of bird seeds), loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Diagnosis of Condition
Treatment of your pet will depend on a number of varying factors including the cause and severity of diarrhea. Ferrets that are sick and have experienced prolong periods of diarrhea may be dehydrated and require hospitalization.
A veterinarian will probably need to call for a number of laboratory tests to determine the causes of diarrhea in order to properly diagnose the condition.
Your pet’s history will also come into play; ferrets with underlying disorders may display other symptoms including anemia, increased serum protein as well as gastrointestinal bleeding. Fecal cultures may be done by the veterinarian to ascertain if there are fungi, bacteria or parasites growing in the animal’s stool.
Other baseline tests that may be performed include a complete blood count (CBC), serum chemistry profile, fecal examination, tests for Aleutian disease, radiographs, and fecal cultures may be indicated. For special cases, your veterinary may ask for a biopsy.
Treatment of Ferret Diarrhea
Similar to diagnosing the problem, treatment will also vary with cause. In many cases ferrets will become dehydrated with depleted nutrients so immediate treatment would need to fluid therapy and nutritional support.
However, for bacterial, fungal or parasitic infections, your pet will require antibiotics, antifungal or antiparasitic medication that will be prescribed to your by your veterinarian. In other cases, like hairballs or ingestion of foreign bodies, laxatives to eliminate the cause but in extreme cases surgical removal may be required along with post-supportive care. During severe cases of diarrhea, however, the ferret will need hospitalization to monitor the animal until it is stabilized.
Home Care and Prevention of Diarrhea
If your ferret only has one or two stools that appear to be diarrheic, without accompanying symptoms, you may withhold food for 12 hours. You can offer your pet a bland diet consisting of meat-based baby food (chicken) and ensure that your pet stays hydrated and water is constantly available. Alternatively, you may offer Pedialyte or Gatorade to replace electrolytes lost in the diarrhea.
Should your pet’s stool remain diarrheic for over 24 hours or the condition worsens, would be best to list down the timeline of the condition and contact your veterinarian immediately.
Medication should be given as instructed and closely monitor your pet for improvement or further complications.
Rest is very important for a ferret suffering from diarrhea. They will need plenty and constant fluid as well as electrolyte replacement therapy. If there is no improvement, inform your veterinarian so further interventions can be undertaken.