Ferrets and Diarrhea – What To Do, Potential Causes & When To Worry

Diarrhea in ferrets can be quite upsetting but most of the time is just something bad that they ate. There’s no need to panic as most cases are easy to treat. But seeing our pets in pain is not easy, which is why it’s important to know a few basics about this very common problem.

Ferret indoors
Photo by Yulia Vambold on Unsplash

Ferrets have a very sensitive digestive system, which means that the wrong food can easily mess up their stool. If the ferret has diarrhea for a day or two, you should keep calm and try to find the reason why this is happening. But if you feel like it’s something more serious, or if it keeps persisting, you should take your little furry friend to the vet. This is one of the many reasons why it’s a good idea to have your ferret potty trained, it will be easier to clean when it does happen.

In this article, we’ll talk about what can cause diarrhea in ferrets and what can you do.

Ferrets and Diarrhea – What To Do

First of all, as soon as you get a pet and you find them a fixed diet, you should pay attention to their stool for at least a few days. This is because it’s very important to know exactly how a healthy ferret’s stool looks like before panicking when the pet has diarrhea. Sometimes there are very subtle cases of diarrhea that you might not even notice but can be harmful.

Normal ferret poop is typically quite soft. However, it still has a form. And since you need to clean the ferret’s litter box each day, you should check on your little one if you notice a big difference. Some serious problems can start slowly and then the ferret will need to be hospitalized to be able to require. This can happen when the pet managed to get its paws on something that it should never eat.

When the stool becomes very soft and there’s more and more liquid than form then the ferret surely has diarrhea. The times the ferret usually goes to the bathroom are also increased. This can cause them to fill their litter box quite quickly and then they will start looking around the cage for their next bathroom. If you’re not around, you will have a big surprise when it’s time to clean the cage.

It’s pretty common for a ferret to get diarrhea from time to time. And if it passes within the next 24h everything is OK. But if it keeps persisting, your little pet might have a bigger issue to deal with. This is because serious diarrhea is often a secondary symptom of another big condition. This includes food poisoning. This is when you absolutely need to go to the vet.

Potential Causes

There are so many potential causes for diarrhea you’ll actually be surprised it doesn’t happen more often. Sometimes to find the real cause of the problem, you will have to try to ignore the diarrhea and focus on the other accompanying symptoms, if there are any. This includes loss of appetite, weight loss, malabsorption (this is when the stool becomes like bird seeds), etc.

Simple diarrhea can easily be caused by a poor nutritional diet as ferrets are obligate carnivores and their food requirements are quite tricky for first-time owners. It can also be because the ferret ate something foreign or something changed suddenly and he is under lots of stress and anxiety.

Gastrointestinal Irritation is another possibility. It can also have a bad reaction to a drug or it shows symptoms of Lymphoma, spleen problems, or other issues with the organs, including the intestines.

There are also a few viruses, bacteria, and parasites that can cause something very serious. This includes i.e. rotavirus, the corona virus, helicobacter mustelae, campylobacter jejuni, salmonella, ECE, etc.

What You Can Do At Home

If there’s no cause of concern, you should still withhold food for around 12 hours and then continue with a bland diet to ensure that the pet is 100% back to normal. You can feed it meat-based baby food and give it lots of water. If the ferret doesn’t drink, put some warm water in a container, throw some waterproof toys in, and let the ferret play. They automatically drink water while playing in the water.

Make sure your ferret rests as well since diarrhea can easily get rid of the fluids inside its body and it needs a bit of time to recover. If he doesn’t recover until the next day, you should take it to the vet.

When To Go To a Veterinarian

Don’t wait until things get ugly to go to the vet, even if it may not look very serious at first. If the diarrhea doesn’t disappear in 12h, that alone is a good reason to see the vet.

If it gets as far as the pet vomiting or/and having watery eyes, you should be at the vet already. If yours is not available, drive to another town, get a professional on the phone, try to make a vet come to you. This is very serious and you should do your best to get the poor pet medical attention.