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For Ferrets Only
Ferret School

 

 

Feeding a Sick Ferret


 

Sooner or later you WILL need this information on feeding a sick ferret, so please bookmark this page for future reference! E.C.E, diarrhea, low blood sugar, post surgery care and tooth removal are some of the times when your ferret will need additional help from you with a soft food diet.

 

Under normal circumstances we know our ferrets need a good high meat protein diet, in the form of dry kibble, but there will be times when we must supplement with a soft food diet. It could even be the only diet for a period of time, until the ferret is able to eat its dry kibble once again.

 

There are many varieties of 'soft food diets' recommended, however, if you should need to feed your ferret soft food in an emergency, this is my recommendation for food easily accessible at any time, when perhaps you are not able to get to your veterinarian. (NOTE: please read my article on the protocol for E.C.E that I have used extensively since 1995 with 100's of ferrets).

 

 

Simple Soft Food Diet

BABY FOOD - 1st or 2nd stage Heinz, Gerber, Beechnut - all meat with broth or gravy

 

Mix 4 teaspoons of babyfood plus 1 tsp. of water. This is enough food for a single feeding (1 tsp = 5cc).

 

At first try a little of the food on your finger for the ferret to lick (always give food warm) if the ferret eats readily then coax it to eat the rest from a bowl.

 

If your ferret is too sick ,or refuses to eat by this method, then you will need to use an eye dropper or a 20cc syringe.

 

Very carefully feed a drop at a time, between the front teeth or sideways, behind the canine tooth, making sure that the ferret is swallowing on its own.

 

CAUTION: Do not shoot the food down its throat as this could cause the ferret to aspirate (get food into its lungs)

 

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Feeding
 

 

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When at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again and again, if need be!

 

I have fed 1,000's of ferrets this way for many years and I can assure you, they will enjoy the food and look forward to it each day!

 

If you find the ferret struggles or shakes the food all over the place, including you, then wrap your ferret in a towel and firmly tuck under your arm, holding the head with your other hand. It sounds difficult, but please persevere and remember, feeding your ferret this way could mean SAVING IT'S LIFE!!

 

Over the years, I have had ferrets brought to me that have been so dehydrated and starving to death, that I have literally worked around the clock to bring them back to life! Many times the reason for this dilemma is that the owner gave up feeding the ferret because it refused the food, instead of diligently trying to coax the ferret to eat!

 

With chronic diarrhea, the loss of fluids as well as not eating, could jeopardize a ferret's life within a day or two. For this problem, we need to feed the soft food every 3-4hrs as it contains plenty of both food and fluid. You may need to supplement with additional Pedialyte or water, and you could add 0.5cc of Pepto Bismol to the food twice a day. Of course you should consult with your veterinarian first. Remember this info is only for emergency situations.

 

Many times people do quite well giving medications to their ferrets, without mixing it with anything. However there are times when your vet may prescribe medicines that your ferret can only take WITH FOOD, such as PREDNISONE (pediapred) so feeding the soft food twice a day along with the medicine, will be a necessity.

 

In our educational classes in Miami, we encouraged the importance of giving the ferret babyfood as a treat, then when the ferret does need soft food, no problem arises as it is now used to the food!

 

We feed all our sick ferrets the following diet

 

Angela's Soft Food Diet For Sick Ferrets

1 can A/D (Science Diet)
1 jar BABYFOOD -chicken w/broth or gravy
1/2 babyfood jar of WATER
1/4 teaspoon FERRETZYME

 

We mix this well and store in the refrigerator.

 

At each feeding we give 20-25ccs ALWAYS WARM, NEVER COLD! I stand mine in a mug of very hot water, if you choose a microwave, make sure it is only for a few seconds and test on your wrist, to make sure you do not scald the ferret with the food!

 

Our ferrets with INSULINOMA have lived for 3-5yrs on this diet, along with medication and dry kibble, without seizures, and only an occasional adjustment in medication. I have had on average 40 ferrets with this disease, over the last few years and have been very successful keeping them actively alive!

 

After surgery your veterinarian will instruct you as to after care. If it is a simple tooth extraction, your ferret may welcome a soft food diet for a few days, always make sure you follow food with a little water to wash the mouth and keep the extraction site clean.

 

On the other hand, major surgery may require the ferret be given medication for some time, plus a soft food diet, so it is important that your ferret be used to the diet before surgery. I have found that some ferrets accept the soft food mixture a little more readily with ENSURE (vanilla) or Pediasure (vanilla) added. After surgery I usually give:

 

Angela's After Surgery Diet

5cc Pediasure
5cc Pedialyte or water
10cc soft food mixture

 

Mix together in a syringe and give in small increments as per the doctor's orders.

 

Gradually I decrease the amount of Pediasure and water until I am back to the 'soft food mixture' only and continue with this until the ferret is readily eating dry kibble again.

 

In the case of a ferret with insulinoma, I continue the feedings twice a day, with the medication. For all my years as a shelter operator, I found that feeding a ferret this soft food diet, could be the difference between life or death. In many cases ferrets were given all sorts of medications to make them well, however if the ferret refused to eat, then no medicine could keep it alive!

 

Please keep this information handy and do not hesitate to contact us, if you have questions concerning this subject.

 

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