Message Number: FHL10507 | New FHL Archives Search
From: "adam80900"
Date: 2009-12-17 03:37:03 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] Re: Problem: Ferret has stopped eating, continues to lose weight. Help/Ideas?

>>> Update After Visiting Veterinarian <<<
I wanted to post an update after having taken my ferret to the Vet. First, let me thank the folks who took the time to respond, both here on the message board and a number of folks who responded directly by email as well. Your suggestions and concern are appreciated.

I used the Internet to look up web sites that allow you to punch in your location and locate Vets that specialized in Exotics and/or Ferrets. The closest was about 60 miles away so I called and luckily was able to get an appointment in timely fashion.

The Vet conducted an exam and weighed Black Jack and determined he weighs 1.55 pounds (710 grams), so my prior perception that he barely weighed "a pound" was wrong (I should have weighed him myself). Still, my records show he weighed 2.7 pounds a year ago, so the weight loss is still dramatic.

The Vet said that it does not appear to be a blockage, and that makes sense because there are no toys in the cage and the play time area is sterile, separated, and ferret-proofed.

The Vet also said it does not appear to be a teeth or abcess problem, after inspecting/examining the mouth and considering the suggestion that perhaps the problem was in the teeth/gums.

I brought up the teeth grinding (happens whenever I try to feed him) and the Vet said that it is more of a sign of nausea than a sign of being in physical pain.

The Vet said the rapid weight loss might be parasitic in nature (something inside the stomach and/or intestines) and it has caused him to stop wanting to eat food; or it could be a stomach ulcer, or it could be something more serious, i.e., cancer or insulinoma or something else.

The Vet started him on antibiotics for the possibility it is intestinal/parasitic, as well as another medicine for dealing with the possibility that it is a stomach ulcer. The Vet said that if it is a cancer or serious illness, it would probably be necessary to do bloodwork, then perhaps X-rays and exploratory surgery after that.

For now, he is also on a forced feeding program (syringe filled with recovery food, injected into the mouth, of which he swallows about 75% and manages to push out about 25%), in order to try and get nutrients into him since he won't eat.

There was one thing that the Vet told me that was a little odd. The Vet noticed that he had two dots tatooed in his ear. I remarked that was the signifying marks from Marshall Farms to indicate that the ferret had been neutered/spayed and descented/anal glands removed (1 dot per surgery). The Vet was of course familar with Marshall Farms and had a few things to say about how in the 80's and 90's, many ferrets lived longer healthier lives and that things seemed to have changed, now many ferrets experience serious health problems well before they get old. I didn't find that part weird - what I found strange was that the Vet remarked that the dots did not indicate surgeries, but that the dots instead indicated sex, 1 dot for a female and 2 dots for a male. I did not want to argue the point, and just let it go while we were exam room talking, but I am 99.9% sure that the dots indicate the surgeries, not the gender, of the ferret when they leave Marshall Farms. The Vet seemed
knowledgeable about ferrets but it did seem strange to me that the Vet said this about the tatoos, i.e., I would expect a Vet with experience in Exotic animals and ferrets to know that it indicated surgeries, not genders. Or am I wrong about this?

Thank you again for your help and take care.




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