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Ferrets/Ferret Raspy Breathing


QUESTION: I feel I am pretty knowledgeable on ferrets, however I am not sure about this one. I have a 3 1/2 year old fixed female ferret. I got her just under 2 years ago from the previous owner (later on got her other ferret the same age).

The ferret has always on occasion made a cough/hack noise. Almost sounds like she is clearing her throat. Today she has started doing it often, which is unusual.

At first she did it while fully awake and standing, then licked her nose and there was a 'pop' noise. Similar to if you are congested and clearing your nose, you can hear a 'pop'.

After a couple times, she then went to sleep and hasn't done the noise. But she does seem to keep doing the throat clearing sound, then licks her lips. Twice she rubbed her neck and head against the floor.

She had a very normal, healthy stool. Have not seen her eat or drink yet (drank a tiny bit early today). I'm not sure if this points to one thing more than other, as I know it could be heart-related or just fur stuck in her throat.

I've given her a bit of ferret lax and am getting ready to give her a teaspoon of pumpkin (Libby's pure pumpkin) to hopefully help grab the fur, if that is the cause.

Other than the odd noises and slightly off behavior, she is acting normal and is very alert and energetic. So does this seem to point one way or another? And what should I watch for (other than the obvious ones of skinny stools, pawing at mouth, grinding teeth, or worsening condition)?

ANSWER: Hello Kelly.

It sounds to me that you've done everything you can for your furry little friend.  But, I have to think there is some kind of infection going on there.  Don't delay, even though she seems to be eating okay right now, that could quickly go down hill without vet help.  Before you know it, it's too late.  In addition, it doesn't sound like she's drinking enough water.  Has she lost any weight?  Dehydration and weight loss can be a critical problem.  Please don't lose time; get her to a vet.

Please let me know how she does.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Took her to the vet today and everything looked normal. The only issue the vet found was from an x-ray and her digestive tract is a little backed up, but she is still going to the bathroom fine. So I was told to give some lax and continue pumpkin and watch for signs of a blockage.

Thank you for your help.

Hello again Kelly,

It sounds to me that your little friend has an upper respiratory problem.  Change vets.

If she is pooping okay (poop soft but has shape and is brown) and is pooping regularly I don't think the problem is blockage. In addition, it's good that she is active.  REMEMBER I AM NOT A VET.  I CAN ONLY TELL YOU WHAT I'VE EXPERIENCED WITH MY FERRETS OVER THE YEARS.

Is she still eating well?  Drinking plenty of water?  What about her weight.  If she is, in fact, in good health otherwise, there are some things I can advise to help with weight gain.

I have to wonder, however, if she will start to go down hill due to a respiratory infection.  That's why I'd like for you to get a second opinion.

Please let me know how she does.



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Janet Russek


I can answer questions re: Feeding(keeping that body weight up) General Care, Safety, Behavior, Best Cages, Proper Toys, Dangers to Ferrets (ferret proofing your home), Play Area/Room Suggestions.


I've raised ferrets very successfully for approximately twelve years. I usually kept three at a time. I presently have one. I've tried a variety of cages, habitats, toys, treats.

Highschool grad with some college.

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