Message Number: SG341 | New FHL Archives Search
Date: 2002-07-17 02:41:10 UTC
Subject: RE: Ferret with Allergies
Message-ID: <19520540.1026873670653.JavaMail.root@scandium>

Dear Mary:

> My questions are these:
> 1) Will Zeke get proper nutrition from a hypoallergenic food?

At 7.5 years, he should, but his inflammatory bowel disease may work against him at this point. But if he is gaining weight as you say, it is likely that he is getting enough nutrition as well.

> 2) Zeke does better on the Eukanuba than the Marshall's but reacts to both.
> I started mixing the Marshall's with the Eukanuba as I had read that only
> ferret foods will give a ferret the proper nutrition. At this stage of
> the game....can I just use Eukanuba? Zeke's "droppings" look better when
> I add Marshall's to the Eukanuba.

Have your vets suggested the possibility of using a Turkey-based food - in ferrets with IBD there is a growing body of knowledge that chicken-based foods tend to worsen diarrhea, but turkey-based foods do better. I currently use A turkey based baby food for IBD paitents, and if I add any groung kibble, then it also is turkey-based. It does seem to help (Thanks again, Dr. Purcell!)

> 3) Can he eat the baby food cold and how often is he suppose to eat? We've
> been putting food in an automatic feeder and trying to feed him every 3
> to 5 hours but Gerber told me that I shouldn't leave their food out longer
> than an hour. The feeder has an icepack below the food which I've been
> using. I also am reluctant to leave food out as Zeke eats all of it at
> once and gets the diarehea.

if he eats well three times a day, you will likely keep weight on him. While ferrets naturally eat 4-6 times, there is a reality factor, which states that many owners need to work 8 hours a day to buy the baby food. Feed him as much as he want a minimum of 3 times a day, and more often on weekends or whenever possible. Remember that a 7.5 year old, who doesn't eat as much will not have the energy requirments of a young active animal and may not necessarily require 4-6 feedings a day.

> 4) When Dr. Williams fed his ferret with IBD 1/2 ferret and 1/2 Gerber's
> Chicken baby food, how often did he feed the ferret this food and what
> did he do when he wasn't home to feed him?

Ah - Mrs. Williams is home to feed the sick ones. We will go every 2 hours in acute cases, but our EE ferret today gets two baby food feedings, and as he is fairly stable on his medication, he often snacks a bit on kibble during the day. But his staple meals are at 9AM and 9 PM, where he chows down on the baby food/ground kibble mix - usually at least a jar at a meal.

I read that the food should
> be warmed to a little above room temperature(which I do when I am home)
> but I am not always home to feed him and I am leary of leaving the baby
> food out for a day unless it's in an automatic feeder with an icepack.

Chances are that it won't hurt if it is left out a while, but also when it is cold or old, it isn't very appetizing, so it is likely he won't eat it.

> 5) Are there medications my ferret can take that would make him less drowsy
> and would last longer? He has gained a lot of weight recently and I am
> worried about his health.

A baby-food diet, for all of the good it does, can make some animals fat, especially older non-athletes. However, with the history of itchiness and abdominal weight gain, have you considered the possibility of adrenal disease?

With kindest regards,

Bruce Williams, dVM