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Ferrets/DEADLY HELICOBACTER causes perforated ulcer, death in four days.

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I am a ferret rescuer with three ferrets (at least 3 ferrets until this past Saturday night 11-23-13). Sadly, my first rescued ferret a 2-1/2 year old female named Tina died under a vet's care after losing half her body weight within four days of listless behavior. The vet is very confident that she had an ulcer form from the Helio Bacterium infection with f the GI.

I consider myself a careful and carng owner of my little ones. I keep the cage clean and sterile, use a mask during cold and flu season, and keep the room they romp in clean as well.

Somehow however, I missed the symptoms and thought I was dealing with a cold r the flu. I tried to force feed duck soup, kept her warm in towels and cuddled her. I did everything but the right thing. The moment she went off her food and water, I should've gotten her to the vet immediately.

I now must assume responsibility for the perhaps premature death of an animal I'd pledged to take care of. I further must now assume the remaining two male ferrets have the Helio Bacterium in their systems and could perish if not immediately treated by a vet.

My point in this sharing is that good intentions are not enough when keeping ferrets. The ferret is a quirky animal and the least variance in a ferret's behavior must be evaluated daily and the willingness of the owner to get the animal to vet ASAP unwavering.
I failed my little one, she always had hi energy and enthusiasm meeting me at the cage door to play. I will miss her greatly.
I named her Tina in honor of her Tina Turner like dancing antics.

Please let newer ferret caregivers know that they cannot ever afford to let their guard down with their animals. The pain of the loss.of the animal is nothing compared to the guilt they will feel for delaying vet treatment.

Answer
Hi Dave:

I am so very sorry to hear of your loss.  They can go downhill and die SO FAST when illness hits...and they HIDE their illnesses, so we must be constantly aware on a daily basis.  Thank you for that reminder, and stressing the importance of vet care.  I know the pain of the loss of these precious babies far too well.  My heart aches for you.  

I hope you will take a few minutes to visit   http://www.petloss.com  .  There is a poem called "Rainbow Bridge" that hopefully will help soothe your pain, and there is a place where you can write a memory of your little Tina that will stay online in her memory.  My "Bridge" kids are memorialized there.  They also have a Monday Night Candle Lighting Service where pet lovers from all over the world gather at 8-PM and light candles and pray for pets who have died the previous week (can be longer than a week, of course, everyone is welcomed).  They have a moment of silence, light the candles and support each other.

As far as pushing for fast vet care, you are preaching to the choir here.....that is the one thing I really push people to do is get to a vet ASAP, ESPECIALLY if a ferret stops eating (one day off food can weaken a ferret horribly, sometimes even leading to death!)  Occasionally we get situations here on this forum, where you just know the person does not understand that  24-hours without food water and no vet care, it can absolutely make the difference between life and death for a ferret...they are so very delicate healthwise...land they hide their illness, so must be watched so carefully, daily, for failure to eat or play normally, even slight weight loss, etc......then there are the ones who got one ferret, thought it was fun and before they really investigated ferrets, especially signs of illness, proper ferretproofing, etc....they suddenly they find themselves with 5 or 10 ferrets and no idea they were going to need a huge bank account to properly care for their babies when these things come up..it is so very sad.  I sit in a very helpless position at times when I  just know a ferret is not going to get to a vet for one reason or another.  I know as a rescuer, you must have also seen sad cases where people just have too many ferrets (or even just one ferret and no knowledge of their delicate health problems) and just don't realize a ferret is not like a hamster, nor as hearty as a cat or dog.   It breaks my heart.  People even CONSIDERING getting a ferret needs to understand  that a ferret can cost thousands of dollars if they get certain, very common diseases....owners must be prepared and capable financially to care for their ferrets and expect those vet bills.

Personally, I always keep about 3-6 cans  of Hills A/D and regularly give it to my ferret as a "treat"  (simply so he will be familiar with it should I ever need to save his life with it, as ferrets are always so bad about trying new foods and when they are sick is not a good time to try to introduce a new taste!).  Hills A/D is a food vets prescribe for sick or post-surgical ferrets that is meaty, super healthy,  and when a few tablespoonsful are thinned to gravy thickness, warmed and fed (most successfully start them by making them taste it by placing a bit behind their canine teeth (the long ones) a few times, then proceeding to feed them 3-4 ounces every 4-6 hours...this can very often get a sick a ferret through a weekend until a vet can be seen).  Keeping fluids and food in them can keep them strong enough to have a chance to see a vet.  Often, however, a ferret needs to give sub-Q fluids (under the skin) from a vet, especially if  the ferret has diarrhea or vomiting, as no amount of oral fluids can replace lost fluids fast enough to save the ferret.

I hope your other babies will do okay....you might want to try giving them some A/D for a while and maybe weekly in the future, as it helps them gain weight, get stronger, and gives them a better chance of getting thru if/when they do get sick.  You can only get the (canned) food from a vet, but they usually think it is a good thing for a ferret owner to keep on hand anyway.  It is NOT meant to be a fulltime food tho.  If not Hills, there are a LOT of "duck soup" recipes online (named for a ferret named Duck, whose owner first coined the term for a combination gruel he made for his sick little ferret and it saved his life). Seems everyone has their own version nowadays, but personally I prefer Hills for convenience and I think their well-paid nutritionists can make a better mixture than I can :-)  

I would like to invite you to join our ferret group on Facebook, called THUNDERING FERRET PAWS, where we try to inform ferret parents of these types of things happening and how to avoid or get through them, share information, pictures and stories, and support each other as we each experience the fun times and that terrible end of life experience we all eventually have to deal with.

Again, my deepest sympathy on your loss.  THANK YOU so much for rescuing these precious ones; you must have a huge heart to take in those precious little ones who have found themselves in horrible situations.  I hope to see you on the group....I find I learn things constantly on there that benefits my ferret and helps keep me up to date so hopefully I can help folks on here help their kids and make their lives more fun for the short time we have them.  Hope to see you there....any member can add you as a member.  If you do visit or join, be sure to check out our "Documents", which consist of information on a wide variety of topics you may find helpful at one time or another.

May God bless you....and rest in peace precious little dancing Tina.....you were obviously very very loved and will be greatly missed little girl.


God bless those precious little ones who cannot speak for themselves.
Jacquie Rodgers

Ferrets

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Jacquie Rodgers

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PLEASE READ ALL BEFORE ASKING QUESTIONS... WHAT I CAN DO: Being a ferret owner for 20 years, I can answer questions re: general care, cage ideas & requirements, healthy foods and snacks, safety issues, ferretproofing play areas, common causes of intestinal blockages, appropriate housing, litterbox training, making bathtime fun, toys, games galore, outdoor trips, "Do`s and Don'ts, traveling w/ferrets by car or RV, safe environmental temperatures & keeping your ferret cool in summer (NOT A FAN!!), setting up a hospital cage, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), helicobacter (ulcers), adrenal disease symptoms & care,intestinal blockages, helping your ferret recover quickly/safely from surgery; common problems of ferret ownership, illnesses; care of sick or injured ferrets, hospice/palliative care, facing & coping with your ferret's death, choices that must be made when a ferret dies, memorializing your pet online and in your daily life. #1 TIP: FIND AN EXOTICS VET BEFORE YOU GET A VET...IF YOU WAIT, YOU MAY FIND YOU HAVE TO DRIVE UP TO 6-HRS TO GET TO A PROPER VET!..if you did not find one first, be WILLING to drive as far as possible for proper care. AND.... #2 TIP: FERRETS ARE EXPENSIVE TO FEED, HOUSE, VET & CARE FOR PROPERLY...IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD ONE/OR NOT READY TO SACRIFICE, PLEASE DON'T GET ONE!! A FERRET IS NOT LIKE HAVING A CAT OR DOG!! THEY REQUIRE MORE TIME, ENERGY, CARE AND MONEY to properly care for them. Prepare to spend up to $8,000-$10,000 OVER A FERRETS LIFETIME (6 to 8 years usually) FOR NECESSITIES & VET CARE. WHAT I CAN`T DO: I can`t take the place of your ferret vet; if your ferret appears sick,PLEASE have your ferret examined by a ferret vet .TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE FOR A SICK FERRET - PLEASE, IF IN DOUBT, GET THEM TO A VET! 24- hours of a ferret not eating/drinking may kill your ferret! NEVER FORCE FEED A SICK..he may choke. Sub-Q or IV fluids from your vet who is not eating WILL help save his life IF he gets it in time.

Experience

I have nursed ferrets through many illnesses, an injury, and a variety of diseases over the years.Ferrets are so very delicate, yet incredibly strong-willed; a well-loved ferret will fight courageously to live if given proper medical care, close monitoring, and especially lots of TLC.& LOVE. A ferret can entertain for hours on end when they know they are the center of attention; and they can make even the grumpiest person laugh. They do require a LOT of time, love and daily care, but the love you give a ferret always comes back to you tenfold OR MORE!! I dedicate the time I spend helping others here to my precious little ones who have gone to the Rainbow Bridge. They taught me how to laugh, to love unconditionally....and how to live each & every day to its fullest, and for that I am forever grateful.

Organizations
Yuma County Humane Society THUNDERING FERRET PAWS Facebook Ferret Group: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/thundering.ferret.paws/ PLEASE JOIN US AND GET ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS AND LEARN FROM EXPERIENCED FERRET OWNERS!

Publications
Yuma Daily Sun (local newspaper) recognition for being an outstanding ferret mom and having incredibly well-trained ferrets. I am currently working on book of ferret care to share my experience. JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/thundering.ferret.paws/ for faster answers to your questions and input from other experienced ferret owners. Lots of past questions answered on AllExperts.com that you can still reference by category. If you don't find your answer there, please submit it and I will be happy to help you :-)

Education/Credentials
I read everything I can get my hands on regarding ferrets, I learn from my great Exotics Vet, and my own experience and interactions with other ferret owners. I am writing a book on ferret care (Great Need for a CORRECT one!) never rely on a ferret book OR a website when your ferret is sick. I can help with suggestions to use IN CONJUNCTION with proper care by your exotics specialist vet (ASK when you call for an appointment whether or NOT your vet has EXPERIENCE in working with EXOTICS..if not, move on and continue to seek one. The wrong vet can KILL your ferret. I learned this early when my ferret hurt his front paw jumping off the couch...a vet, NOT EXOTICS SPECIALIST couln't handle ferret properly because he was afraid of the ferret...and ended up xraying THE WRONGBARM, telling me it was not hurt. I took xray & ferret to EXOTICS SPECIALIST VET 3-hrs away & found out the arm WAS BROKEN & wrong arm had been xrayed. THAT is how important it is to have a PROPERLY TRAINED VET FOR YOUR FERRET!

Awards and Honors
WANT TO BE A FERRET EXPERT? I serve as the resident "guru" for this category. IF YOU WISH TO VOLUNTEER IN THE FERRET CATEGORY, please email me at thunder.paw.ranch@gmail.com and request an application. All volunteers must complete a general ferret information questionaire to be a volunteer in this category. Thanks for your cooperation :-)

Past/Present Clients
I try to educate anyone who is interested in ferrets, as I take my ferrets with me in public a lot. There is a lot of MISinformation out there about ferrets that needs to be dispelled with fact, and ferret owners who need to be keep abreast of the latest and best information. FACEBOOK FERRET GROUP (OPEN): THUNDERING FERRET PAWS - Join us as we all share our pictures, stories & experience!! :-)

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