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Ferret Suffers Long-Term Diarrhea

What should be done to treat a ferret with long-term diarrhea?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: May 1, 2012, 11 a.m. EDT

Q: I have a male ferret about 5 years old that has had diarrhea for about the last month. He had it before and got over it with something called Fortiflora . I sprinkled it on his food. But this time he’s not going for it. I’ve tried it on different food and even put it in his soup; he wasn’t too happy about either. Do you have any ideas on how I can get him to eat the Fortiflora so his diarrhea goes away?

A: The best way to try to treat the long-term diarrhea is to find out why it is occurring and then use medications appropriate for the specific problem your ferret is experiencing. Fortiflora is a supplement but not necessarily a treatment for gastrointestinal disturbance.

Diarrhea is common in ferrets. A number of conditions cause diarrhea I ferrets, and most causes of diarrhea require more than a supplement for treatment.

I suggest that you visit your ferret’s veterinarian. Likely, he or she will recommend a fecal examination and possibly suggest a complete blood count, a biochemistry profile, and whole body radiographs. Your vet will also go over your ferret’s diet and may make some recommendations for what it eats.

Some of the reasons for long-term diarrhea in ferrets include epizootic catarrhal enteritis (ECE), eosinophilic gastroenteritis (EGE), parasites, food sensitivities and bacterial infections. None of these causes can be cured only with a food supplement.

Another reason to visit your veterinarian is that long-term diarrhea robs your ferret’s body of some essential nutrients and calories and can contribute to dehydration. Some chronic changes due to long-term diarrhea can be reversed, but at some point your ferret becomes too debilitated to overcome the loss of these nutrients, so the sooner you address this problem, the better the prognosis for your ferret.

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