Message Number: YG1105 | New FHL Archives Search
Date: 2001-03-11 13:58:00 UTC
Subject: [Ferret-Health-list] Tube feeding geriatric ferret

Hi, I have 2 ferrets. One with terminal insulinoma that is 7
years old and my little 5 year old that has had everything but
insulinoma. She has had the left adrenal removed a year ago,
but this did not help her symptoms. At the same time she had
gastric ulcers which just about did her in. She also grinded
her teeth, and the vet who did the surgery did not catch it.
I went to an exotic vet in another state who found them easily
in the back of her throat and going all the way down. This
took a 4 month treatment of 4 different meds, including
carafate and various antibiotics and pepto. About the diet,
when mine both had surgery, I had to switch to baby food along
with a/d every 4 hours. Then, when the ulcers started
clearing up, I switched to grounding up
"totally ferret" ferret food with the chicken or turkey baby
food (equal parts) mixed with hot water. Yes, they now do not
eat kibble anymore, but they are now being fed this soupy
mixture every 6 hours and have put on the weight and have
pretty coats. They usually do not take to it at once, one I
still have to finger feed her to get her started. If you have
any more questions, please let me know. Thanks, Dawn
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, March 11, 2001 9:14 AM

Hi FHLers,

I have a question regarding tube feeding.

But first here's my story. Gidget is a 7.5 year old sprite
with advanced
adrenal disease and insulinoma. About 4 weeks ago she began
to refuse to
swallow her normal 1/4 tab of pred. She's been on it for
almost one year. No
matter how well I aimed it for the back of her throat, she
would manage to
not swallow it. I finally relented, realizing this was her
will and I really
felt the pills were making her nauseous. She would froth at
the mouth and
gag afterwards even though I made sure she took it with a
ferret treat or
chicken baby food. She has never had an insulominic

Realizing that I needed to somehow keep her sugar up, I
began supplementing
with plain chicken baby food twice a day. She would lick it
off my finger
until about 1/3 of jar was gone. During the feeding she
would grind her
teeth, and sometimes shake her head, flinging the food from
her mouth. I
started her on carafate, but it made no difference. I was
also counting out
kibble pieces and putting some right at the opening to her
sleep sack, so I
could tell how much she was eating. She never ate much, but
then she stopped
eating altogether. She refused to even take the baby food
or any of the
treats she loved. She also stopped drinking...also shaking
her head and
gagging even on water offered from my fingertips. Her eyes
were a little
dull and she just seemed to be giving up.

Hysterical and braced for euthanasia, I took her my very
vet. She felt that there was still a lot of life left in her
and that she was
worth the effort to try to save. She offered to take her
for me and work
with her and see what she could do. She began tube feeding
her with A/D.
She also gave her a shot of Lupron and Chloramphenicol
injections. The
injections weren't helping, so she discontinued. She has
her on Reglan(sp?)
now and says she seems to be less nauseous. She still will
not eat on her
own. She has been tube fed for 17 days now. My vet says
she is getting nice
and fat, the sparkle is back in her eye, and her hair has
begun to grow back.

My question is...can a ferret become dependent on tube
feeding to the point
that they will no longer eat on their own?

How long should I continue with this? My vet bill is
probably around $200.00
now and climbing. Finances aren't the main concern here,
but I can't afford
to tube feed her for months and this is something I cannot
do on my own.
What if Gidget is trying to say "enough...let me go", and
instead we're
forcing life support on her. My vet wants to keep her for a
at least a few
more days. She said that she has been able to get other
ferrets to start
eating on their own again, once they feel stronger. I am
really torn and just
not sure how much more I should allow.

Also, my vet said she has not been able to palpate a
hairball. Her spleen is
not overly large, either. She will run around and is curious
about everything
when she's let out for exercise. I just read about ear
mites contributing to
nausea and I will mention this to her, but my ferrets ears
are checked
annually and never show anything. Her stools are normal and
not indicative of
ulcers, but perhaps we should start her on the standard
regimen anyway. I
also just got some Pet Tinic and Ferretzyme from Ferrets
Mart. Do you think
I should have her add this to the A/D?

She doesn't feel she's presenting the signs for renal
failure, but I asked
her to test anyway. My vet is trying to keep the cost down
for me as much as
possible, which I appreciate, but should I also ask her to
go ahead and run a
blood panel? She is too old for surgery, so we can't
visually look for a
malignancy. Would a blood panel show abnormalities that
would help my vet
and I make a decision? My vet has taken time out of her
life, taken my
ferret home with her, carted her to and from the office with
her and has
devoted a lot of time into nursing her back to health. I
don't want all that
effort to be for nothing...but when is it time to stop?

I'd appreciated your thoughts on this, especially from the
Docs and others
that have been in a similar situation.

Thanks for your help!


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