Message Number: YG1013 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-03-10 00:21:00 UTC
Subject: More on dehydration

Due to the relative inelasticity of ferret skin, I have always
believed that the skin turgor test, which works very well in dogs and
cats, is not a good test for the lower ranges of dehydration in
ferrets. As vets, we look at animals somewhat in this fashion - 5%
dehydrated, 8% dehydrated, 10% dehydrated. In dogs, the skin, when
tented, only slowly snaps back when dehydration is present -
somewhat slow at 5%, noticeably slow at 8%, and hardly at all at 10%
or higher. Cats are fairly similar.

But mildly dehydrated ferrets at 5% have minimal changes in skin
turgor, and skin turgor will only pick up some of them at 8%.
Usually at 10% it works well, but heck - everyone can tell something
is wrong by then.

I have learned to gauge the lower registers of dehydration
(broderline cases at 5% or slightly above) more by assessing lethargy
than using skin turgor. I f I have a ferret that is very lethargic,
and is either not taking in any food and water, or has a diarrheal or
vomiting condition where I know they are losing fluids, I usually go
ahead and administer SQ fluids. Many, many fererts do much better
afterward. Fluids can be a lifesaver, and they can also turn around a
lot of cases that ust aren't giving a good response to appropriate
treatment. With care to avoid over-administering fluids to a case
which may not be able to handle it, such as a severe cardiomyopathy,
or some cases of renal shutdown, fluids are some of the most
important therapies at our disposal.

I strongly encourage all owners to instruct their clients with ill
ferrets how to give SQ fluids at home, and all vets to teach them.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
Join the Ferret Health List at

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., ferrethealer@a... wrote:
> In a message dated 03/09/01 3:47:27 PM Eastern Standard Time,
> Ferret-Health-list@y... writes:
> << Are you saying that his most recent lethargy,
> licking, and flat ferreting may be related to his
> fluid intake (quantity) rather than a tummy
> problem (which is what I thought it was)?
> >>
> It certainly is possible. Now of course without seeing him, I
can't tell you
> for sure, but the biggest problem I see in renal failure is
> dehydration.
> Dr. Ruth
> *****************************************
> Save lives - spay or neuter your pet.