Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Ferrets

Nutrition for disease states

Contributor(s): Cathy Johnson-Delaney, David Perpinan

Introduction

  • Any illness that causes anorexia requires nursing care.
  • Anorexic ferrets may develop hepatic lipidosis and hypoglycemia; usually this means assisted feeding with foods high in protein and fat.
  • Commercial formulations are available that can be used alone or mixed into a home-made critical care formula Critical care formula to get nutrition into the sick ferret.
  • Emeraid® Exotic Carnivore (Lafeber Co, USA) is designed to be used by itself and can be delivered easily through a gastric tube if the ferret is refusing all oral administration (this includes syringing).
  • Carnivore Care® (Oxbow Animal Health, USA) can also be administered through a gastric tube or by syringing. It can be used solely for the ill ferret.
  • Both powders can be used in combination with ground, soaked kibble, baby foods, broth or water, and Nutri-cal® (Vetoquinol, USA).
  • There are many formulations for a critical care diet, but all should maintain the ferret’s weight or cause weight gain:
    • The author’s preference is to begin by using Emeraid® or Carnivore Care® alone for the first 24 h, then to gradually introduce chicken baby food and Nutri-cal® for the next 24-48 h, then gradually mixing in the soaked ground regular diet which thickens up the gruel. It can all be pureed so that it can be administered through a syringe .
    • Most ferrets will take syringing or by hand-feeding by dipping a finger in the mix and smearing it on their lips; many ferrets will take food off a spoon as well.
    • Hills Prescription Diet a/d Canine Feline Critical Care nutrition formulated for dogs and cats recovering from debilitative conditions, is also commonly used for ferrets.

Neoplasia

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Islet cell disease and dietary management

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Johnson-Delaney C A (2014) Ferret nutrition. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 17 (3), 449-470 PubMed.
  • Chen S (2010) Advanced diagnostic approaches and current medical management of insulinomas and adrenocortical disease in ferrets (Mustela putorius furo). Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 13 (3), 439-452 PubMed.
  • Hoppes S M (2010) The senile ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 13 (1), 107-122 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Johnson-Delaney C A (2017) Nutrition. In: Ferret Medicine & Surgery. CRC Press, USA. pp 47-64.


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