Ferret First-Aid in Emergency Situations
It is late at night. Stores are closed. Your ferret starts throwing up, backing up repeatedly to poop and not going. There is no vet open within a 4+ hour drive, or none around at all. What do you do? This is the type of issue many of us are going to face at SOME point as ferrants. I am very lucky in that I have access to a vet 24/7. But what do I do on the day there is a snow storm so bad I can’t even get out of my parking lot?
This piece is to explain some very basic emergency care tactics for a number of illnesses or injuries that could crop up at a time when you need to cope on your own for a few hours. This is NOT meant to replace any vet care, only to help your ferret survive until the morning hopefully when you can get him in. Everyone who has a ferret NEEDS to know these basic symptoms and treatments. You NEED to have an emergency kit on hand. You hopefully will never need to use it.
Always have the number and know the location of your closest emergency vet. Also, having a backup for your regular vet in case they are not available is a good idea.
Possible Blockage (signs and temporary emergency treatment)
Signs / Symptoms: Your ferret is maybe throwing up, or trying to vomit but just retching repeatedly. She is backing up over and over again trying to poop and either nothing coming out, or tiny bits or long very thin stools. He is curled up and doesn’t want to come out.
Tools: 100% Pure Canned Pumpkin (squash baby food is an alternative), vaseline or ferret lax
First Aid Treatment: Follow the standard Blockage Protocol.
Insulinoma Crash (signs and temporary emergency treatment)
Signs / Symptoms: Ferret is very lethargic, drunk walking, drooling, limp, or even seizing. This can be as simple as the head back in the air and compulsive fast lip licking, or a full on seizure.
Tools: karo syrup, glucose or honey, q-tips and meat only baby food
First Aid Treatment: Use a q-tip to rub the liquid sweetener either on the gums or on the anus. This will hopefully pull them out of their episode (the crash is caused by low blood sugar). Once fully conscious, feed at least 1 tbsp of meat baby food to help prevent another crash. If they don’t regain consciousness within 20 minutes reapply syrup and follow above. In the morning call the vet while on the way in.
Bleeding From The Foot (possible torn nail/nail bed)
Signs / Symptoms: Ferret will not put weight on that paw, there may be actual bleeding happening. Ferret may be whimpering.
Tools: Saline solution, styptic powder or cornstarch and sterile gauze.
First Aid Treatment: Pour saline solution over injury to help clean it, apply pressure if bleeding for 30 seconds then styptic powder or cornstarch. Wrap with gauze/dressing and tape in place if possible.