Message Number: YG808 | New FHL Archives Search
Date: 2001-03-06 11:35:00 UTC
Subject: Re: ECE treatment (New member intro)

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., cjbandit@a... wrote:
"... the best treatment remedy for ECE. ..."
As well as to all others with ECE and possible ECE (If it looks
similar to ECE... treat it as ECE... WHILE you're looking for other

Our shelter is ECE positive, so this is something we deal with daily.
We've only had one case (out of a couple of hundred in the last year
or so)that resorted to pred due to stripping of intestinal
capillaries resulting in a permanent nutritional malabsorption
problem. His ECE was at age 7 and concurrent with giardia and
malnutrition. Sometimes, we find out after the fact, that it wasn't
ECE at all... but the ECE treatment was the same or part of the
treatment that would have been precribed for the illness... so we
were already days ahead in treatment and recovery time.

Unfortunately, a ferret owner's first line of thinking is "A trip to
the vet & the vet will fix it."


The vet can't fix ECE. The vet will prescribe the necessary
medications... "fixing it" rests solely on the shoulders of the
ferret owner. It's not the prescriptions that cure ECE. It's the
supportive care.

Treatment for ECE is supportive care including:

1. Antibiotic to prevent secondary infections (Our vets sometimes
prescribe BOTH Amoxi-drops & Flagyl, especially in ferrets over age 3
or younger ferrets if they are in a debilitated condition from poor
diet or other concurrent illness.)

2. Supervised diet. (The actual "curative".)

3. Immediately. Don't wait 3 or 4 days to see "if he doesn't
improve". Don't wait till you can get a vet appointment. Call your
vet, explain your suspicions, have him call in a rx of antibiotic
while you're waiting for a day off to get in to see him. Better 3
days of unnecessary antibiotics than 3 days for infection to breed in
an ulcerated stomach/intestine. A ferret that's not eating is in
CRITICAL condition. If you keep that in mind you can head off the
worst effects of most ferret illnesses.

In most cases here, we've found the worst damage is done by
interrupted diet. The ferret is nauseous and quits eating. The longer
his stomach is empty, the worse it gets. Sporadic eating generates
more stomach upset, poor nutrition, lack of energy to wake up to go
eat, and so on in a downward spiral.

Knowing in advance that a ferret IS going to get ECE is a big
advantage. We expect it and so are prepared to immediately begin
supportive care at the first symptoms.

We make sure that the ferret is eating regularly (every 3-4 hours)and
sufficiently (more than just 4 or 5 kibbles, an average is around
10). We supplement the ferret's diet at least twice a day with a
bland soup made of the kibble soaked and mixed with water and cooked
egg yolk (1/4 tsp. per day)to the consistency of tomato soup. If the
ferret is elderly or frail, we add drops of Pet Tinic type liquid
vitamins. (DON'T add products containing lactose/milk like Ensure for
digestive tract illnesses - the digestive tract is stressed enough

If the ferret refuses to eat dry food, we feed the soup every 3
hours, a minimum of 15.0 ml per feeding. If the ferret resists the
15.0 ml minimum, we feed 5.0 ml every hour. In such cases, the ferret
is usually not drinking enough water either, so we add 5.0 ml
Pedialyte or Kaolectrolyte (great stuff... comes powdered in packets
for easy storage)every 3 hours.

If there's indication of stomach ulcers, we give 0.1 tablet of
chewable Pepcid A/C (crushed, mixed in water) 15 to 20 minutes before
feeding soup. Pepto-bismol or carafate can be used, but we generally
have better response to the Pepcid AC for non-chronic conditions. We
give Pepcid for a limited length of time. Improvement is usually seen
in 2 or 3 days. (Carafate sometimes increases nausea symptoms in some
ferrets, so if nausea persists after a few days, try something else.)

(If you're mixing Pepcid AC, crush 1 tablet, mix with 10.0 ml water.
Keep refrigerated. Discard unused mixture after 7 days.)

Any dosages you're not sure about for your particular ferret's
condition, ALWAYS check with your vet.

Seedy stools are indication of poorly digested food. That means the
ferret is not getting the full nutritional benefit of what he's
eating. As long as the poops are consistently seedy, supplement with
soup. An occasional seedy poop is not a cause for concern.

In most cases where we've consulted on severe ECE cases, the primary
debilitating factor has been the owner's expecting the prescriptions
to cure it, or fear of stressing the ferret with force feeding and
medications. The ferret will get over the stress a lot quicker than
he'll recover from ECE-induced starvation. Just FEED him, (And cuddle
& sweet talk while you dropper soup between his clenched teeth).

The bottom line of supportive care for ferrets with ECE:

Keep SOMETHING on their stomach.

Debi Christy
Ferrets First Foster Home