Emergencies ferret owners may face

What to do about them?

The first thing a ferret owner (or owner of any pet) should do is find out if their veterinary clinic covers its own emergencies or if it refers to an emergency clinic. Safari Animal Care Centers veterinary staff are available to provide emergency veterinary care for your pets. In the event of an emergency, call the hospital before leaving the house. Describe what has occurred with your pet so that we can be prepared for you.

Bleeding: A common problem is bleeding from a toe nail. This may be caused by the nail getting caught on something or by clipping a nail too close. If the bleeding is from the tip of the nail, it can generally be stopped by applying styptic powder. If styptic powder is not available, alternatives include cornstarch, flour, or even pressing the toe into a bar of bath soap. If the nail is torn off higher more advanced cautery procedures (and bandaging) may be required. Try to stop the bleeding by applying pressure above the toes. Do not dab at the toe. This will just remove any clot that has formed and bleeding may start again. If external bleeding is from an area other than the toe, apply direct pressure.

Heat Stroke: Heat stroke is caused by continued exposure to heat and/or direct sun. The accurate treatment is prevention, but if heat stroke occurs, you will need to decrease your ferret’s body temperature. If you have rubbing alcohol, apply this to the foot pads and ears but not the whole body. You can also apply cool (not cold) water over the ferret, concentrating on the feet and inguinal (groin) areas. Contact your veterinarian immediately. Your pet may appear better only to relapse into shock from the damage caused by overheating. Depending on the severity, your veterinarian may want to hospitalize your pet and provide additional supportive care.

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar): If your ferret has been previously diagnosed as having an insulinoma you should always have a bottle of corn syrup or honey on hand. If your ferret is having seizures or cannot be roused, apply corn syrup lightly on the gums. If there is no previous diagnosis of insulinoma, contact your veterinarian prior to giving the corn syrup. There are other causes of abnormal neurologic behavior and a sugar solution may not be the answer.

Electric Shock: Ferrets have been known to chew through many things, including electric cords. There is no home treatment for electric shock. Wrap the ferret up to keep him warm and bring him to the veterinarian. Prior to leaving the house, make sure that the chewed cord has been unplugged to eliminate fire danger.

Fractures: Traumatic injury to bones is always a concern when you have an active animal (or child). If the possibility of a break is present, try to immobilize the ferret by confining him to a small space. Do not try to bandage the leg yourself as this may cause more harm than good.