As with any domestic animal, ferrets are prone to specific ferret diseases. Most commonly seen are adrenal disease, insulinomas, gastrointestinal blockages, lymphoma, gastrointestinal disorders and ECE. ECE stands for epizootic catarrhal enteritis, a ferret disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract.
The best thing you can do before you bring a ferret home is research vets in your immediate area who are well versed in treated ferret diseases and know how to spot ferret illness symptoms. Ferrets typically don’t go more than a year without experience some sort of illness. Because of this, having an experience vet around is a must. It’s also important for you to know the clues that signal your ferret is sick.
Let’s begin with ECE. This ferret disease is characterized by the sudden onset of bright green or yellowish diarrhea. Keep in mind, however, that ferrets can develop diarrhea for other reasons. Should your ferret have greenish stool for a day or so, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to run to the vet. Perhaps just placing a call in for advice would work just fine in this instance.
Insulinomas are growths on a ferret’s pancreas. These growths may be cancerous or non-cancerous. Even if they are non-cancerous, they release insulin, which results in a ferret suffering from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Symptoms caused by insulinomas can include Weakness, lethargy, difficulty waking and excessive sleeping, vomiting, drooling, pawing at the mouth, loss of coordination, disorientation, vocalization while sleeping, and seizures. These symptoms can range from mild to severe. If your ferret is having a seizure, it will cause jerking of the legs, vocalization and possible urination.
In the instance a ferret has a seizure from a hypoglycemic episode, try rubbing a little Karo syrup on his gums. This may temporarily help your ferret during the seizure, but it cannot substitute for a vets care. Your vet should be contacted immediately for an emergency visit.
Ferrets have a very curious nature and a total lack of fear. This puts them at risk for ingesting items that don’t belong in their bodies. In fact, gastrointestinal blockages are one of the major causes of premature ferret death. Some of the symptoms of a gastrointestinal blockage include vomiting, lack of appetite or not eating or drinking at all, straining to attempt a bowel movement with not result or “skinny” stool, weakness, and/or diarrhea. If you notice any of these symptoms in your ferret, you need to make a visit to the vet as soon as possible. When a ferret experiences a blockage, death can occur within just a few days. A ferret with vomiting or diarrhea may also refuse to eat and will become seriously dehydrated within a day. if they are vomiting or not taking in any fluids.
In order to prevent intestinal blockages in your ferret, clear your home of items such as rubber bands, balloons, Styrofoam, and small items made of soft rubber. These such things can be found in other household items that your ferret may get into. This is one reason why it is so important to adequately supervise your ferret when they are roaming the house. When a ferret experiences a blockage, he will most likely require surgery.
Educating yourself about ferret diseases and how to care for a sick ferret is something that will help you along in ferret ownership.