Message Number: YG1053 | New FHL Archives Search
Date: 2001-03-10 13:17:00 UTC
Subject: Re: [Ferret-Health-list] More on dehydration

In a message dated 3/10/01 12:27:19 AM Eastern Standard Time,
williams@e... writes:

<< 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, >>
<< 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. <<

Hello - Just went around checking skin turgor on bunch of my ferrets - glad
to report that no one seems dehydrated! Not ever having thought of
percentage of dehydration (this is why we defer to vets), I just simply
determine very dehydrated or somewhat dehydrated by pinching up skin at
shoulder blades. I also determine by checking nose which should be cold and
wet. If nose is warm and dry, consider this another clue. Please note that
a sleeping ferret always has a warm and dry nose until they are up and about
for a bit. Like Mike, I also check mouth and gums. There is also a certain
"look" of a dehydrated ferret and this is hard to explain - but you just know
the look.

I can't tell you how many times the simple fact of having Lactated Ringer's
on hand has saved a ferret or kept the ferret stable until you could get to
the vet. For some reason, ferrets always get sick, have a crisis or
otherwise get into trouble on weekends or holidays. Go figure. My vets are
very supportive of ferret owners having the means to hydrate ferrets and
thank you Dr. Bruce for recommending it.
I know some vets are against it.

I prefer the bottled Ringer's but the bag is fine too. Some will run
straight from the bag but I prefer to use a syringe and needle because I find
it easier to administer that way to a wriggly ferret and it gives you better
control. I keep 15cc, 20cc and 35cc syringes on hand and usually use a 1 inch
20 guage needle. (the lower the guage, the larger the needle diameter). You
need a fairly large needle to administer fluids but not so large that you
leave a big hole in tiny ferrets. I have administered fluids on occasion to
a kit using a tuberculin syringe & needle.

Any who decide to keep fluid on hand, should be taught how to administer it
by your vet or vet tech. Some points to keep in mind: The packaged alcohol
pads are handy to wipe the rubber nipple on bag or bottle before each use.
Make sure your needle is firmly attached to the syringe. Pull back and fill
syringe with air as you must inject the same amount of air first into the
Ringer's as you plan to pull out in fluid. Slowly pull back on plunger until
your syringe is filled. You might have air bubbles in the solution. To get
rid of these, hold the syringe with needle up and tap side. Bubbles will
rise to the top and can be aspirated by pushing gently on syringe. Important
to get air out of your syringe.

Capture ferret and velcro to table. No, just kidding. However, it is
helpful to have another person to help hold the ferret. No matter how sick,
most ferrets do not like this procedure - and telling them it is good for
them simply does not work. Try Ferretone on a saucer or Nutri-Cal for the
ferret to lick to serve as distraction.
I usually do my fluids without help so it can be done with just one person.

The important thing is not to injure the ferret with the needle when you
inject the ferret with the fluid, whether using syringe or direct
administration from bag.
You can use one hand to help guide and guage how much fluid is being injected
while your other hand does the push. Pull up skin on back of ferret just
below shoulder blades. Insert needle between your fingers straight into the
loose skin and level with back. If you point needle down it might scrape
muscle tissue. You are administering fluids Sub-Q which means under the
subcutaneous tissue and into the space before the musle tissue.

The bole of the needle should be down - in other words, the sharp part of the
needle is on top and the curved opening is on the bottom. It is extremely
important that your injection and subsequent removal of the needle be kept on
a straight track in order not to cause abrasions or bleeding. Slowly push in
the fluid. Your other hand can keep a feel and guide on how much is being
injected into the "pocket" of loose skin. You will see a large lump as the
fluid fills the area. When this area is tense, carefully pull back and
remove needle straight out. If the ferret needs more fluid, you can follow
same directions as above to the side of the ferret just down from shoulder
blades. Depending on the size of the ferret, 15cc to 30cc's or more can be
administered in this way. How fast the lump is absorbed by the body will
give you a pretty good idea of how much the ferret is dehydrated. The
procedure can be repeated in 20-30 minutes or an hour or two. You can re-use
the syringe but Must use a fresh and sterile needle!

The above should in no way be construed or used as directions with the
exception of perhaps keeping it on hand as a reminder guide. You should
always be taught by your vet, tech, or other experienced person. I hope I
didn't leave anything out - I have been giving injections for probably more
years (I hate to say) then many here have been alive. Sigh. It really does
get to be second nature - on occastion I have given fluid to a ferret doing
somersaults or other such maneuvers. This is what happens if you don't have
someone to hold the ferret! Best Regards, Meg
Chaotic Ferrets