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Feeding A Ferret With Pancreatitis

Is there a preferred food to feed ferrets with pancreatitis?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: November 1, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT

Q: What is the best food to give a 7-year-old ferret with pancreatitis? I know with cats or dogs one withholds food, but with a ferret it becomes more challenging. She is currently receiving prednisolone to manage insulinoma. Withholding food is not an option. Therefore, what food can I give her that won’t exacerbate the pancreatitis? I would normally feed A/D but with pancreatitis, that high-fat food is contraindicated. Her pain is being managed with injectable Tramadol; and metoclopramide is managing the vomiting. Sub-q hydration is administered as needed.

A: Pancreatitis in ferrets is extremely uncommon. In fact, with all of the insulinoma disease we see in pet ferrets, it is amazing how rare pancreatitis is in ferrets. Because pancreatitis is so uncommon in ferrets, there is no set protocol on how to treat these ferrets nor the best food to feed them.

As you mention, managing pain and vomiting are extremely important, but it is also important to make sure fluid and electrolyte intake is well monitored. I would be very cautious feeding a ferret with pancreatitis in that you want to manage the inflammation and certain foods can antagonize the already diseased gastrointestinal tract.

Bland food that is not high in fat and that is easily digestible are the qualities I would look for in the proper food to use. The downside of that type of diet is that it may look very unappetizing to your ferret. If your ferret refuses to eat, you may need to assist feeds your ferret.

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