Posted: October 1, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: My male ferret's front, right paw got tangled in a curtain that the cat pulled down, and I’m not sure how long his arm was suspended in an upward position. I got him loose, but when he walks his wrist area is contorted in different directions for each step. I applied pressure in various regions but my ferret didn’t make any noises or biting attempts. He tries to walk like nothing happened. Is this possibly a dislocation or may this be a ligament problem? I’m in the process of moving right now and there are no vets even two hours away that accommodate small animals. What should I do?
A: Unfortunately, without a physical examination and possibly radiographs, there is no way to know what happened to your ferret’s leg. The choices include tendon or ligament damage. This would be a soft tissue injury. Or a dislocation of the bones that connect to the foot or a fracture of those bones. Those would all be orthopedic injuries.
Ferrets are very stoic, so I am not surprised that your ferret did not make any noises or attempt to bite you. Plus, once the acute phase of the injury has passed, the injured area may no longer be painful, even if he still does not walk properly on the foot.
Without knowing which type of injury is present, it is hard to know the long-term outcome. A fracture or dislocation may likely mean your ferret will always walk in an abnormal fashion. If this is treated, your ferret has a chance of walking normally. If this is a soft tissue injury, it is possible for it to heal on its own and your ferret may have a gait that is closer to normal. But even soft tissue injuries can have long lasting consequences.
All of these injuries can make your ferret susceptible to arthritis and subsequently pain in that foot later in life. Limit your ferret’s movements until you can find a veterinarian that can help you and your ferret.
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