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For Ferrets Only
Ask Angela


Weight Loss:


 

QUESTION:
I'm new to owning ferrets and love them and do my best to provide for them and make them happy. I came upon your site while looking for information on ferret weight loss. I've two ferrets. The first is probably a lil over a year old and I've had in for about a year, and in July I got a second who is probably only six months. They get along great, sleep together and play together. When I got my second ferret Riley, my first ferret Petey appeared overweight and rather depressed. Once I got him a playmate he began losing weight and becoming a lot more active and playful. Riley was very thin when I got him and full of energy. Over the past couple months Petey has lost a LOT of weight, and seems quite thin. On the other hand Riley has put on quite a deal of weight and is working up to the size of Petey before I got Riley. They both eat Marshall's ferret food, and I've seen them both eating their fair share. They both get at least three hours of exercise outside the cage a day, both seem to play normal only now Petey has more energy and Riley has less. Their poops and pees haven't really changed at all that I've ever noticed so I would say they were normal. I don't want to worry too much and I did read what you had to say on the issue of weight loss on your site but I just wanted to ask if you had any other reasons, seeing as one lost so much weight and the other gained. Petey was skinny when I got him, gained a lot of weight and again lost it, I didn't know if it was some baby phase while they were young where Riley would shrug it off again in a few months. Any help or knowledge you could give would be greatly appreciated.

 

ANSWER:

If food intake is the same and fecal/urine etc.. is normal, then I doubt the weight loss is anything to worry about. Ferrets gain/lose weight with the seasons, in the Winter they can gain up to 40% of body weight to keep warm and then lose again for Summer. However since we keep them in controlled temperatures the visible hair growth and hair loss is not present, but the fat gain and loss can be apparent.


At 6 months of age your ferret should be at its best, plump and happy and will lose weight as he ages, then each 6 months changes in structure and weight will occur, these are normal. Hair color and thickness will change also, depending of course on temperatures and the amount of daylight. Remember that ferrets do need normal daylight hours and normal darkness, instead of subjecting them to artificial light, since their makeup is governed by the amount of light.


If you see changes in eating/defecating, sleeping more than usual, then it is time for a good checkup with a ferret knowledgeable vet.

 


QUESTION:
I have a 15month Hob full male. He has always been chubby but over the last 2 weeks he has gone from a chubby (fat) ferret to skin and bone. I have read your other answers but his fur hasn't changed. (It has stopped being oily.) I had a 9yr old that I had to have put down about a month ago and my other female seems to be pregnant. He is always running around marking every thing non-stop and when he's done all over the house he just sleeps. The only thing he shows any energy for is walks but once we're back home he'll sleep till the next day. He's not himself and I'm getting very worried about the weight loss. He's never even nipped any one or thing and today when I touched his hips he went for me... I have taken him to the vet and he has just said it's fine we'll check him next month and that it maybe "cushings" I have no idea what this is or how much it's going to effect my ferret for. The fact he's lost so much weight in only 2 weeks is worrying me. Any ideas?

Ps: urine and stools is fine/soft a times.

 

ANSWER:
First of all there is NO CUSHINGS in ferrets, it is ADRENAL DISEASE, hopefully your vet is ferret knowledgable? From what you are descibing, he doesn't sound as if he has adrenal problems, usually ferrets with adrenal disease do not show signs of illness, only in last stages. Normally you will see hairloss and behavioural changes, but since your male is whole, those changes would be hard to detect. You can read about ADRENAL DISEASE here: www.miamiferret.org
Copy articles for your vet also.

 

Did your vet do any blood tests on your ferret, as it sounds as if he certainly needs to? I would ask him to check his blood glucose to be sure it is not too LOW. What exactly is he eating, are you watching to see if he is eating as usual, or less. If he has low blood sugar he needs to eat every 3-4 hours and lots of MEAT protein, it will keep his blood sugar leveled off and then he will not be so tired. When the vet checks he can do the test while you wait, with a HUMAN GLUCOMETER (made for diabetics).

 

Until you get him checked can you buy him BABYFOOD CHICKEN/TURKEY, ALL MEAT and feed him 3-4 teaspoonsful every 3-4 hours, it will help him gain his weight back, plus more importantly will keep his blood sugar leveled off and if the vet should prescibe meds he will need the pureed chicken to eat with meds to prvent ulcers. If he does a complete blood test you will have the answers you need if it is not low blood sugar. He is very young to be experiencing illness.

 


QUESTION:
I have a ferret that is about 5 or 6 years old. He recently has started to just sleep around and won't do anything. He is blind also so he doesn't move around like he used to. He also started to have reddish pudding like in his stool. I catch him occasionally trying to eat and drink water, but he didn't do much of it yesterday. Now his weight has gone down and I feel his bones. I have another ferret that is less than a year. They get along fine, but should I separate them because I don't know what the other has? My ferret that past away last year was very old and did the same things. Is it because of his age and being blind causing depression or something?

 

ANSWER:

Ferrets do not die from 'old age' they die because something in the body is breaking down. It sounds like your older ferret is suffering from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and that is why he is sleeping so much. Hypoglycemia is caused by tumors on the pancreas. The tumors make too much insulin causing the blood glucose to drop. When the blood glucose drops the ferret is too tired to eat and consequently the glucose drops even more. He could be having small seizures that you may not have noticed, if so these will get worse. Watch to see if he stares into space or if he salivates, these are signs of low blood glucose, you can read more at: www.miamiferret.org Click on Healthcare and then on Insulinoma.

 

Your ferret needs to be seen by a ferret knowledgeable vet, he will need a blood glucose test which can be done right there at the vet's office you can copy the info and take it with you. If it is not Insulinoma, then the vet will be able to find out what is causing him to lose weight and sleep so much.

 

Until you see a vet, feed your ferret Gerber's baby food (blue label)Chicken/Turkey, about 3-4 teaspoonfuls with one teaspoon of water. Warm it a little and let him lick from your finger. If he will not take it get an eyedropper and gently dribble over his teeth, he will eventually love it. Once he takes it willingly, pour into a shallow dish for him to eat.

 

If the vet finds his glucose low he will probably give you Prednisone for him and give it to him the same time as the baby food as you will know for sure he has food in his stomach. Start the baby food as soon as you can, it is easy for him to digest and will help keep his blood glucose leveled off, he has to eat, if he doesn't he will die.

 


QUESTION:
My ferret is only about 2 years old, she is starting to get a lot skinnier and has a rash like on her back. his more on her neck but the back side! i'm getting VERY worried. i am feeding her mothers milk (for puppies) right now to get her to eat something! I was hoping you would be able to help me on finding out why she has it. she is drinking the mothers milk and starting to eat her food but still losing weight! if you have any idea please help me!

 

ANSWER:
Not sure what the rash would be, unless she is scratching, she doesn't have fleas does she? Have you seen her staring into space, sleeping more than usual, as these are signs of Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)? Losing weight is also a sign of Hypoglycemia and if this is the case you need to give her GERBER'S CHICKEN/TURKEY BABYFOOD (blue label) the high protein content will help level off her blood sugar and also help her gain weight.

 

If she is sleeping more and not eating regularly this will her to lose weight. The low blood sugar can be caused by tumors on the pancreas and is called INSULINOMA, you need to take your ferret to the vet to have her blood checked, until you do PLEASE start giving her the baby food, not the puppy milk, that does not have enough protein in it. Give her 3-4 teaspoons with a teaspoon of water mixed in, at least twice a day, warm a little.

 


QUESTION:
Rascal is almost 1 year old and Boo is 7 mos old. They are both very active. Neither of them eat a lot. They both eat Marshalls ferret food. They don't like any kind of treats, or meats, or baby food...nothing that it seems most ferrets like. My problem is that Rascal who used to be the "fat one" is now very skinny. Granted, she is very, very, active...and she is eating. I've been watching her stools and they seem ok. I tried giving her a cream/milk/egg yolk drink but she would only lick it off my fingers and not from a cup. Any suggestions?

 

ANSWER:
Ferrets do lose weight up to 40% of the body fat when they change from Winter coat to Summer. Has Rascal lost his coat recently? If he is eating playing it probably is nothing to worry about, perhaps he has just lost his 'puppy fat'! If his ribs are showing and he continues to lose weight, then a visit to the vet is necessary.

 


QUESTION:
I have 5 fuzzies all approx 1 1/2 years. One seems to have lost weight sides seem to heave occasionally I took her to Vet. But he claimed she looked fine. She is also more lethargic, sleeps more than others. Approx weight 1 pound 2 oz. All the others are 1 pound 10 oz to 2 pounds.

 

ANSWER:
Ferrets do lose weight with the coat changes (up to 40%), when they shed their winter coat the undercoat comes out and the finer guard hairs remain! The weight returns with the winter coat.

If the ferrets went through a shed recently you will need to make sure they have a laxative: Laxatone, Cat Lax etc.. to help the hair move out through the system. Ferrets can get hairballs that will cause blockages, made me wonder when you said her sides heave! Even if only one ferret sheds, the hair can be licked or swallowed by the others.

Actually the weight of ferrets vary, but it will be good for you to check her weight regularly to see that she is not continuously losing, also it would be good for you to keep a record on everyone, that way when you go to the vet you will be able to show any sudden fluctuation in weight gain or loss.

How could the vet tell by looking at the ferret that she was okay, did he do a blood test to see? I would start her on the 'chicken soup' and give her at least 4-5 teaspoons twice a day, morning and night. This is what you need:

  • 1 JAR CHICKEN BABYFOOD (Gerbers)
  • 1 CAN of A/D (Science Diet)

 

 

  • PLUS-1/2 babyfood jar of water

WARM before serving and give it to her on your finger, if she will not eat it, then use an eyedropper and dribble behind her canine teeth. After 2-3 times she will readily eat it and you can put it into a shallow dish for her to eat on her own.

This is also a very healthy snack for your other ferrets, you can give them a teaspoonful each day, then if they should get sick, it will not be difficult to feed them, as this is what they will be eating.

 




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