We are used to our animals shedding their winter coats in preparation for summer. Ferrets on the other hand shed twice a year. The spring and fall leaves us owners sweeping fur up from the floor. This might cause some concern about a ferret having adrenal disease because of the loss of fur leaving bald spots.
While it is true, that adrenal does leave bald spots at the base of the tail and sometimes on the shoulders. It also can because of shedding. If the fur doesn’t grow back filling in the area it is time to get the ferret in for a check up.
Ferrets like cats groom their bodies extensively. Licking up loose hair from their coats this in itself is not a problem. The problem occurs when the hairs accumulate in their digestive tract. Ferrets unlike cats cannot cough up the resulting tricho bezoars better known as a hairball.
If a ferret is constantly pawing at his mouth this could be an indicator that something is either stuck in his/her mouth or further along his/her digestive tract. This obstruction needs to be seen by vet immediately or the result could be a painful death for the ferret.
Tricho bezoars is formed by undigested hair that becomes sticky and latches onto other particles such as undigested food or more hair building up until nothing can get past the hairball. Some of the hairs can become like wire and possible puncture the intestines letting lethal bacteria into places it shouldn’t be.
Some believe that hairballs are more likely to occur with low-fiber, high-carbohydrate diets, obesity, and a lax of exercises, inadequate water, and/or stress. Ferrets require a high protein diet with enough fat to help keep the digestive tract lubricated.
So, what are some of the ways of preventing a hairball from forming? There are several views on how to reduce the amount of fur that is ingested. Ranging from frequent bathing of the ferret to hourly grooming. Neither of these are very good options. Bathing a ferret often increases the oil production and produces more of the musky smell. Brushing is helpful but not many ferrets want to be handled that often as it cuts into their exploration of their surroundings.
What is agreed on is giving a hairball remedy. By giving a one-inch ribbon of either a cat or ferret hairball remedy helps lubricate the digestive tract allowing the hair to pass completely through. This should be given at least once a week year round and more often during shedding time.
My fur kids make the funniest faces while they lick this sticky stuff up and while it looks like they are disgusted with the taste. I have to hide the tube away from them or they will hunt it out and try to figure out how to open it so they can have more of it.