Posted: March 1, 2011, 5 a.m. EST
Q: Two days ago, I gave our ferret Zuzu a liquid ferret supplement on a plastic spoon. She bit into the spoon, and we think she might have swallowed a piece of it. So far she seems fine. We gave her some ferret laxative the past two mornings. I felt her belly, and it seems fine. Is there anything we should do? She seems like her normal self. She is less than a year old.
A: Hopefully, you kept the spoon! The first thing I would do is contact your ferret’s veterinarian and show him or her the spoon or a picture of the spoon. If a very small piece was swallowed, chances are it will pass without problems, but that is never guaranteed.
It also can be difficult to say how small is safe. If the piece is a few millimeters in length, that is probably not going to cause problems. If the piece is larger or if it is small but with sharp edges, it may need to be removed.
If you do not take your ferret to visit your veterinarian because you think the piece is small, you are taking a risk. You could continue with the laxative but this can potentially cause watery feces leading to dehydration.
The first signs of gastrointestinal distress could be a lack of an appetite and maybe a slight case of diarrhea. It is unlikely, but your ferret might also attempt to regurgitate. If you see any blood in the feces, that is also a cause for concern.
If you see any of these signs, visit your veterinarian as soon as you can. And, although this is not the most fun job in the world, you might want to check your ferret’s feces for pieces of plastic; that way you will know she has eliminated the plastic.
If you visit your veterinarian, he or she will carefully palpate the abdomen to try to locate the plastic. Your veterinarian may take radiographs but, unfortunately, plastic is not visible on radiographs and further tests like abdominal ultrasound may be necessary.
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