Message Number: FHL8735 | New FHL Archives Search
From: "Sukie Crandall"
Date: 2009-04-24 15:40:32 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] Re: Is surgery right?

We've had ferrets in the family for about 28
years and have lost only one shortly after
surgery. In fact, we went to the hospital to
say goodbye to her because she was riddled
with lymphoma and her liver was pretty much
gone at that point. Most of our ferrets have
wound up with at least one surgery in their
life times after their neutering (yet another
surgery but most not done here). Some of
ours have had very extensive work, in some
cases requiring days to over a week of vet
care after surgery, but most get to come home
the same day.

Now, part of that success level is having
excellent ferret vets who not only know ferrets
well but who only use iso or sevo for anesthesia
and maintain proper body temperature.

The other part is careful home care. You are
sure to get post-surgical tips. Quite a number
of ferrets pass because they have not been kept
hydrated and fed, not had enough bedding, or
were permitted to climb or to be too active. Years
ago I did a survey of people who lost ferrets at
home after surgery vs. those who did not. Those
were the leading problems the people mentioned,
with climbing being the most common thing that
was mentioned. There were also those who got
aspiration pneumonia from improperly done
syringe feeding (which needs to be taught hands
on by a vet) and some other things. Now, this was
not a vet survey so more may have been going on.
Climbing and too much activity too fast were the
strongest matches with death soon after surgery,
with climbing being the number one mistake mentioned,
though those other things mentioned also played
parts and took their sad share of ferrets too soon
before their times.

So, if I was going to give a few tips the biggest ones
would be (in mostly random order):

No climbing: not ramps or anything else. Use
newspapers, paper towels, or similar things right
on the floor for their bodily waste

Restricted activity for at least 10 days, possibly
2 weeks. We have two safe bathrooms that we can
blockade for that and also have a "sick cage" for
those who need it (and have used it on the dining
room table with an IV pump next to it and an IV bag
hanging from our chandelier. Also, if some have
surgeries that will make them feel so much better
that they are likely to be too active, for example,
the removal of a very large spleen, we are extra
sure to have opiates for them and then a tiny-tiny
tad more than would be needed for pain control
so that they will be quieter and less likely to injure
themselves. Ferrets are way too inclined to try to
be too active too soon.

Sufficient home heating and blankets. What do we
do about the bathroom floors being cold? Well, that
is part of what our old towel stash under the bed is
for, ditto the old t-shirt stash in a trunk. We try to
keep enough bedding for two post-surgical ferrets
to be safe at the same time.

Regular monitoring and immediate vet help if needed

Finger feeding -- preferably every few hours -- of a
soup made of a/d, Carnivore Care, or a meat baby
food mixed with heated water so that it is about ferret
body temp. We also tend to have some crunchies and
water readily available. We have almost never had a
ferret who actually needed syringe feeding. Finger
feeding, moving on to spoon feeding is almost always
totally workable.

Follow any advice your vets give. (Obviously, and
stay in touch with any questions, wathc for infection, etc.)

If there is a trustworthy other ferret who will not lie on
the wound, groom the wound, try to remove stitches, or
engage the post-surgical ferret in active play then have
that one visit, but at first only with monitoring.

If a seroma (a big blister near the stitches) get to the vet.
The tissue can give out. When we had one go through that
at 3 a.m. (with follow-up surgery that worked fine) I
checked with others and heard of multiple case where a
seroma compromised the tissue badly enough that a ferret
opened, so if we ever encounter that again, rather that
waiting to see if the ferret opens up we're going right in.
What was done differently with the repair and with a later
surgery that particular ferret had? She had antibiotic
coated stitches and staples which worked wonderfully for
her personally. (Individuals can vary.)

If a ferret is pulling stitches out also get to the vet right away.
In such cases the vet can use either staples or surgical glue
over stitches.

A vet can give percorten after an adrenal surgery (even
with another adrenal present in case it has been either
suppressed or even atrophied, or a person can have both
Fludrocort and Prednisolone at home in case Addisons starts).


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