Date: 2011-05-26 02:29:21 UTC
Subject: Re: [ferrethealth] Wasting ferret, vet no help
With the kind of weight loss you've experienced, he's probably going to have to go on subcutaneous fluids full time (e.g., 30 cc 3x per day) to keep him going into you figure out why he is losing weight and not eating. If you can interest him in some Ferretvite that might be a good way to get some calories in him short term to buy you some time.
Since he is known to chew plastic you can't rule out a blockage but if he's passing stool that's a good sign.
The x-ray might be a good investment. There could be a stomach hairball that is interfering with digestion (but not causing a full intestinal blockage) that may show up.
Another thing to look for is presence of parasites in the stool, e.g., Coccidia. We took in a foster a few months back who brought in what our vet called "The New Coccidia", apparently a variety that is a bit more aggressive than the "normal" Coccidia. If it's Coccidia the ferret will lose weight rapidly and have no interest in food, and will die quickly from dehydration unless hydrated and treated for the parasite with Albon. All standard "I'm not a vet" disclaimers apply, but the symptoms you describe (otherwise healthy ferret with rapid weight loss, no appetite and funny poo) may be consistent with Coccidia or some other parasitic infection that Flagyl and antibiotics won't help with. At this point (based on my somewhat limited experience) it wouldn't hurt to try Albon since the antibiotics aren't helping and you're getting close to the end, even if the fecal float exam seems negative for Coccidia - it is my understanding that sometimes actually finding evidence of Coccidia in the stool can be hit or miss. Our new guy dropped to about 600g but with Albon treatment and lots of soup he's up to 1300g now. See what your vet thinks about this idea.
If you can't interest him in Carnivore Care, try one of the many good Duck Soup recipes that are out there. The one I use is pretty simple and I've yet to encounter a ferret who won't take it voluntarily - even when sick or depressed (although there have been times when I've had to spoon feed). I just pressure cook a whole chicken at 15 PSI for 45 minutes, then puree it, bones and all, in the blender until smooth using some of the fluid left over from the cooking, or, some water, to make sure there is enough water to make it blend easily. Once a pitcher is fully pureed, I'll add good quality ferret kibble to the pitcher while it's blending to thicken the mix a little bit (about a cup or so), and I'll add about a tablespoon of Ferretvite per blender pitcher before pouring it off and blending the next batch. I get about three blender pitchers of concentrated "Chicken Smoothie" this way, which I'll freeze. When serving the concentrated mix I'll add water to reconstitute, typically just shy of one part water to one part soup. Like I said, I've never encountered a ferret that won't take this mix. I don't like to force feed and I won't for long unless I know there will be a payoff soon, but with this mix I have successfully spoon fed ferrets who otherwise won't eat on their own until they get back to the point where they will. If he won't take it voluntarily, cradle him in your arms, reassure him and try to get him to take some off a spoon or your finger. Start off slow and easy, and if you're lucky, he'll start taking it one spoon at a time. When this works it's a great alternative to syringe feeding, which I believe is very stressful for ferrets and which I only use as a last resort.
Whatever happens, good luck with the little guy and I hope things work out for you and him. It's not good that the rescue isn't willing to do the right thing and support a 2.5 year old ferret, but hopefully you can work things out with the vet, so you can do the right thing. You'll be glad you did regardless of what happens.
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