From: Sukie Crandall
Date: 2001-04-17 13:33:00 UTC
Subject: Re: ECE help
There certainly are enough of us here who have been through ECE! We
managed to avoid it for a long time just by staying away form
carriers, but around 4 years ago we got hit after bring Ashling and
Scooter home from PV. Don't know if they were exposed there or at
the vet's, but we got really nailed. Three ferrets here wound up
with some permanent damage. Warp (almost 7 years old) who is still
alive but not doing very well has never been able to hold weight
since ECE; she's been very thin since and periodically becomes skin
and bones when her old intestinal problem reoccurs as it is now.
Spot had kidney damage from dehydration and his kidneys took him too
early. 'Chopper the Organic Helicopter lived to almost the normal
age range but had to deal with difficulties absorbing anything from
her intestine which didn't combine well with her heart troubles. It
is really essential to keep up the careful nursing since that is what
saves them on a day to day basis. You are showing the right level of
If dehydration gets too bad the little ones will need sub-cu fluids
or even IV. Get ECE info to your vet, esp. from
http://www.afip.org/ferrets/ECE/ECE.html, and ask your vet beforehand
how emergency needs are to be handled. If an Anemerg branch is to be
used also get them the information on ECE right away, ditto any vets
who would cover for your's at times.
Be aware that secondary complications can happen, too, like
Helicobacter flare-ups or colitis. We went through a few of those.
If you wind up with assorted medications for all you can keep simple
charts; those will let you note down who had meds and when a ferrets
Alarms and timers were essential for us to not miss critical care needs.
We found that if we mixed Nutrical into water that sometimes helped
make fluids more attractive, but that can't be done with one who has
insulinoma, of course. Some had to have electrolyte solutions.
Those last only about 2 days once opened so we moved over to using
Kayolyte powder with fine results, but others may prefer to freeze
the opened solution in ice cube trays to keep it effective.
We have good luck with a/d or with baby food. Around here we find
that lamb seems to be a great favorite, followed by turkey. That
seems to vary among households. I suspect that whatever the alpha
animals prefer has an effect on what others eat. Certainly, whatever
they were fed as kits does. You can learn a lot about feeding sick
ferrets from http://www.afip.org/ferrets/babyfood.html
Check in your local pharmacy for a type of dropper with an accordion
top that has a clown face on it. These are called "spoon droppers"
because they hold a teaspoon's worth (Dr. Clown Item #67032,
Apothecary Products, Minneapolis, MN 55337, pillminder@a...).
These droppers have a large opening that permits easy suck-in of
slushy food and the pleated tops permit good control to allow for
breathing breaks. You can also cut the top from a small plastic
bottle and use that to feed. Either one is less likely to choke the
ferret compared to a syringe or a narrow bottomed dropper. ***If the
ferret aspirates food there is a very real risk of infection -- even
pneumonia -- which is why such approaches are left for when the other
options just don't work.*** Options include things like spoon
feeding, finger feeding, etc.
To ease spoon feeding or finger feeding you can use jealousy by
pretending that someone else wants to steal the food, you can sing to
the ferret, you can use praise, etc. It really pays to have a towel
on your lap. I miss the days when I had lab coats, given how much
medication and food gets spread around when one is sick.