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Ferrets/Please help!


QUESTION: We rescued a ferret from a woman that obviously didn't know how to care for a ferret (senior cat food), nails un-cut, dirty broken cage, and washed with regular dish soap. He was on the thin side and was scratching like crazy and was had thinning hair. We figured that with a bit of love and good quality food, he would get better. All was well for a couple of weeks and he seemed to be doing better. Then all of a sudden, he started having extreme loose stool that smells awful and started loosing weight. I brought him to the vet and we have gone through numerous medications that have all failed to help him. He is now a walking skeleton and his rectum is enlarged and inflamed. He has gone from weighing over 2.3 lbs to 1.4 lbs. You can literally count his bones from looking at him. :(

We have made numerous visits to the vets and have gone through everything from dietary issues to digestive and parasites and even had blood work done. He eats and drinks normally and has energy which is amazing because if you were to take one look at him you would think he was in his last minutes of dying. The vet keeps assuring me that he is not suffering but how can an animal this sick not be suffering. We are giving him mediction morning and night and are giving him vitamin and nutrient supplements just so that his body can continue functionning.

I don't seem to be getting any results with anything and I really don't want to have to put him down, he is such a good boy and I wanted to give him a better life that what he knew.

Do you have any advice or have heard of anything like this before?

Thanks so much!

ANSWER: Dear Krystle,

From what you've said in your question it sounds like you've done everything right, especially since the vets haven't indicated that anything is wrong.  Some of the problem could be a result of age.  Ferrets live from 5 to 7 years on average.  Past treatment/care has a lot to do with it.  I've had two ferrets that lived to 9.  They do loose weight and hair begins to thin.  However, as old age sets in they tend to become less energetic and playful.

On the brighter side, I can give you a couple of suggestions.  Changing food - when you change a ferrets diet, it must be done gradually.  Ad only a little of the new food to his old diet each day until the transition is complete.  Otherwise changing the diet won't help the loose poop problem.  

Vitamins are a wonderful thing and ferrets MUST have them.  However, be careful not to exceed the recommended dosage.  Excess vitamin dosage causes diarrhea.  Remember, more is not always better.

Try this to put a little weight on your furry little friend.  Give him no more than a teaspoon of Gerber Junior Ham & Gravy (baby food# each morning along side his regular food.  You may need to warm it a little #to room temperature only) and make sure you stir it up with your finger because it does get hot spots in it.  Watch to make sure this new addition doesn't make the diarrhea worse.  If his poop remains normal keep giving him this little treat each morning.  Over a very short time, you'll see the little guy start to gain.

I sincerely hope I've been of some help.  Please keep me posted - let me know how the little guy does.

Fond Regards,

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

Lilo 1
Lilo 1  

LIlo 2
LIlo 2  

Thanks so much for your response! Lilo is actually a young ferret. I was told about 11 months but vet says hes about a year and a half 2 at most.

Since my initial question, I had returned to the vet because his state was not getting any better we are now trying the last treatment/medication possible ''Rigo'' Apo-prednisone in liquid form for green slime disease. It is possible that he had this a while ago and that the green poop stage was gone when we first got him but it lingers in the system until it basically takes over the system if un-treated. Once again, the vet is taking a stab at dealing with the situation as other than being slightly anemic and having massive diarhea and an immense swollen rectum, nothing else shows up as abnormal. It is curently Lilo's 2nd night taking this medication and I hope to see some positive changes.

I have taken a couple of pics to show how deteriorated his state is. I will definitely try your suggestion with the Gerber food. It can't hurt trying at this point I'm just trying to keep him alive and hopefully save him.

Hello Krystle,

Thanks for the update.  You are a great ferret owner and Lilo is lucky to have you.

Keep doing what your vet says and I'm sure you'll see an improvement.  The baby food is great for putting on weight.  Just be sure to monitor that poop!  I had a skinny little guy and the Ham & Gravy really helped.  In fact, he's quite chubby now.

I wish you and Lilo all the best.

Fond Regards,


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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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