Message Number: YG557 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Dr. Bruce Williams
Date: 2001-03-02 16:55:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Hairballs // Technique for removal - NOT!!!

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., PattiSki@w... wrote:
> Need some help here, we never had them and I am concerned. What do
> do?

Well, that's a contradiction - if you've never had them, your level
of concern should be low.

At our house, we don't do anything at all - it has never been a
problem. Occasionally the ferrets get laxatone as a treat, but not
for any therapeutic reason.

Laxatone may help for the stray couple of hairs, but if you are
trying to remove one like the ones on the front page (Thanks for the
picture, Jackie!), laxatone is not going to do it. These are
surgical problems. The pylorus - the part where the stomach enters
the much smaller intestine will not allow something this big to pass,
and the ferret is not going to vomit it up either. Becaues the
ferrets stomach is always full of hair, he'll generally feel full and
the first thing you will notice is a lack of appetite or significant
weight loss.

There were some early posts on pineapple juice. This has been
rumored for years to work in rabbits due to the level of papain (an
enzyme) in pineapple juice. Doesn't work. Hair is composed of
keratin, the same thing that your nails are composed of - it is one
of the toughest things in nature. Pineapple juice is not going to
digest it. If you don't believe me, try it - but use the fresh
squeezed pineapple, not the surgary watered down variety you get in
the store.

If the normal high acid pH (1.0-2.0) of the stomach won't digest it,
what makes you think that a breakfast drink will? Ever seen the
villain lower the hero slowly into a large vat of pineapple juice to
die a horrible death? Of course not.

The key here is that if you want to do anything against hairballs,
give a half inch of laxatone every day or two, especially in animals
that chew at themselves a lot or during the shedding season. It may
help, it may not, but the ferret will like it. But don't expect to
be dissolving any hairballs.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM
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