Message Number: YG1717 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-03-25 15:49:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Hair ball or ulcers

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "Jim & Laura Ferris" <jlferris@s...>
> May I go back to the subject of hairballs in ferrets again? We
became part of this list when the hairball picture was on Yahoo's
website and when I read about it I was sure that this was the problem
of our 5 year old Panda. When I talked to my vet, though, he felt
sure it was ulcers and prescribed Tagamet. Because I feel unsure may
I tell you Panda's symptoms and maybe someone has experienced this. I
grind and soak all of Panda's food because his stomach seems so
sensitive, but even so, often if I pick him up right after eating he
will vomit up a very little bit. Even if he is not picked up he will
often vomit a bit up. Also after he eats you can hear his stomach
growl. In the last month he has started coughing maybe 5 or 6 times
in a row a couple times a day. He sound just like a cat sounds just
before it vomits up a hairball. His weight is great, he looks great,
he's playful. He's getting Petromalt every other day. His poops are
fine. He was on Tagamet for a week and I will say that he has not
vomited as much since then. We would welcome comments!

At this point, I cannot say that there is significant evidence here
for either condition. A hairball is certainly possible, but ferrets
generally do not try to regurgitate hairballs like cats do. Without
signs of either tarry stools or grinding teeth, I am hesitant to go
with a diagnosis of ulcers.

One other condition that you have not considered, and is often a
cause of rather vague GI signs, with sporadic vomiting and occasional
loose stools, is chronic atrophic gastritis due to Helicobacter
mustelae. The changes caused by the presence of the bacteria in the
stomach results in loss of the acid-secreting cells and chronic
infalmmation, and animals have more trouble digesting food.

As he looks great, his poops are great and his energy level is good,
I wouldn't go all out to get a definitive diagnosis right at this

With kindest regards,

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