New Hiding Spot

I had my three old ladies out playing on Sunday morning.  I was changing some litter boxes in the shelter room and these scrawny ferts can fill a litter box quicker than any other cage so I was doing their cage!  Mariko, Finni and Rosie will tootle about for about 45 minutes before finding a nest box to crash in. It had been an hour and I knew it was time for them to go back to bed.

Rosie - you can't see me!

Rosie – you can’t see me!

Finni- I smell something!

Finni- I smell something!

Mariko-This is my best smile!

Mariko-This is my best smile!

My  nine year old grandson, Holden arrived early for his bi-weekly Sunday visit with me. I normally have all the ferrets back to bed before he arrives. This is not a safety issue from me but from the “powers that be”.  Of all the ferrets in the house, these three, if given the chance might “gum” you to death! I follow the rules and the ferrets are locked up.

I needed to put the girls to bed because it was time for their duck soup and because my grandson is not used to watching where he walks (has not learnt the ferret shuffle). Of course also for the above stated reason.

Rosie and Mariko were curled up in the nest box behind the TV and I put them back in their cage. I couldn’t find Finni!  I knew that she hadn’t gotten out when Holden came in the front door, but, where the heck had she gotten to? Holden was told to play in his bedroom with the door closed while I looked.  I checked all the usual sleepy spots without any luck.  Then, I went by the front door to check the bed in the closet.  Holden’s boots lay where he had taken them off – in the way – right in front of the front door!  I bent down to move the boots to the boot rack and I little face peeked out. I ran for the camera but by the time I came back, she was almost out of the boot.

I called Holden to come see.  We both laughed and I grabbed the opportunity as a “teaching moment” . Now Holden understands even more why the furries have to be back in their cages because they can choose the silliest places to sleep and might get hurt!

Finni in Holden's boot

Finni in Holden’s boot

Finni woken up from sleeping in Holden's boot

Finni woken up from sleeping in Holden’s boot

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Ferret First Aid Kit

It is highly recommended to always have a first aid kit on hand so you will be able to take care of your ferret should the situation arise.

Below is a list of required items to keep on hand;

  1. Emergency phone numbers; make sure you have the vet information easily accessible and any other contact needed.
  2. Ferret photos/vaccination records; it is also a good option to have photos of each ferret and records of vaccination on hand.
  3. List of all medications your ferret is currently taking.

Emergency food ideas;

  1. Jars of meat baby food-chicken or lamb chicken cooked/ground down in food processor/frozen in butter tubs/plastic containers (see Duck Soup)
  2. Light Karo syrup or nutri-cal (for quick calorie boost)
  3. Pedialyte or gatoraid (for de-hydrated ferret or just to keep system flowing)
  4. Can of prescription feline A D (you get this from your vet) easily digested food for the sick monsters
  5. A can of vanilla Ensure/Boost/Fortify
  6. Canola or olive oil (something to help move bad indigested stuff through)
  7. Petromalt or laxitone For hairballs use for everyday or every other day

Cleaning, Lotion or bandages;

  1. Calamine Lotion for balding ferrets, (relieves itchy skin and minor irritations from scratching)
  2. Hydrogen Peroxide (for cleaning cuts)
  3. Ear cleanser
  4. Eye wash/rinse
  5. Gauze pads Gauze wraps
  6. Washcloths
  7. Adhesive bandage tape (cloth tape holds the best)
  8. Styptic Powder or flour (for bleeding nails)
  9. Antibiotic ointment such as neosporin (for soothing and protecting cuts and scrapes)
  10. Bene-bac (for replacing beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract after illness or diarrhea) – can be purchased com
  11. Desitin (for rash and burn relief) or Any Diaper Rash Ointment 

Petroleum Jelly (to help move a blockage through and for easing in the thermometer)
  12. Kaopectate/pepto bismol/pesid/tagament (for diarrhea and soothing the tummy)
  13. Immodium liquid (for diarrhea)
  14. Ferretone or linatone (for mixing with medecine)
  15. Baby wipes (for general cleanup)
  16. Pediatric Liquid Benadryl ( for counteracting allergic reactions)
  17. Heating Pad ( to help maintain body tempature in a young or sick ferret)

Molly update

Molly is my 6 year old surrender who has very much bonded with me.  Two recent changes in his place at the shelter sent him into a tail spin. I not only changed his cage, I also moved him out of the shelter room.  His reaction was a complete depression – he stopped eating!

I moved him into his familiar cage and moved the cage beside my bed; adding my used nightgown to his hammock so he knew his new Mommy was still with him.

Molly's cage

Molly’s cage

I then started him on duck soup as he was rapidly loosing weight!  Molly had not eaten for 48 hours and it showed!  Molly had never had duck soup and oh boy oh boy, what a fight I had with him.  The first few feedings saw me covered in the stuff as he gagged, shook his head, wiped himself all over my face and hair and fought me tooth and nail.  I had to resort to syringe feeding him and he thanked me by peeing on me! Molly slowly accepted the duck soup. We graduated from syringe, to finger to baby spoon and last night when I offered him the dish of duck soup he stuck him tongue in and went to town!  My little man had come around.

The weight loss is gone, the diarrhea is gone and he is once again doing his walkabouts!  Yes he is still beside my bed!  I can’t help it; I have to spoil him a little.

Molly loves his Mom

Molly loves his Mom

How to make Duck Soup /Soupies

As a shelter mom for over fifteen plus years, I am sure I  have made enough duck soup to fill a child’s swimming pool. The smell of the pureed kibble is not wonderful and in the early years thanks to my sensitive nose I did gag, persevere – your’s ferret’s recovery depends on it.

Supplies will you need;

  • A large bowl to soak your 2 cups of kibble
  • a kettle of boiling water
  • a blender
  • ice cube trays or small ziplock snack containers

Food used;

  • minimum of 2 cups of your ferret’s kibble mixture
    • It is easier to do multiple batches then to double or triple your supplies. I burnt out my first blender.  I now have an industrial blender and that allows me to make huge batches as I do have lots of furries!
  • a container of yogurt
    • vanilla flavor is recommended as your ferret’s tummy is already upset
  • Ensure or the diabetic version Glucerna in Vanilla
  • (optional) Ferretone
    • For those stubborn ferrets that won’t eat the duck soup unless it is drizzled with Ferretone!

Making the duck soup:

  • Pour boiling water over the two cups of kibble
    1. Enough to cover the kibble by one inch
    2. Let soak until kibble is soft and can be broken down with a fork, you may need to add more boiling water as the kibble soaks up the moisture
  • Put 1/2 cup of the mushy kibble in the blender, add enough hot water to help the blender puree.
  • Repeat until the 2 cups of kibble have been pureed.
  • Pour the pureed kibble into the containers you have selected and cooled pureed kibble then freeze

You can keep pureed kibble frozen until needed, just thaw in the fridge

pureed ferret kibble

pureed ferret kibble

vanilla yougurt

vanilla yougurt

IMG_1135

Vanilla Diabetic

Preparing the duck soup for your ferret:

  • Put one heaping teaspoon of the Vanilla yogurt in a dish
  • Put one heaping teaspoon of the pureed kibble in the dish
  • pour just enough Ensure over the mixture to cover. Use more Ensure to make the duck soup liquid if you are giving it by syringe. The duck soup is normally like thin pudding
  • warm your duck soup in the microwave for a few seconds (10 to 15 seconds) **stir with your finger to ensure there are no “hot spots” that can burn your ferret’s tongue. You want the duck soup warm not hot or “cooked”.
    heaping teaspoon of yogurt

    heaping teaspoon of yogurt

    heaping teaspoon of pureed kibble

    heaping teaspoon of pureed kibble

    IMG_1138

    How much ensure to add

    IMG_1140

    Consistency

    IMG_1141

    Finished duck soup

Giving your ferret the duck soup:

  • place a towel on your lap
  • hold your ferret in one hand and offer the duck soup dish with the other hand
  • your ferret should slurp down the duck soup

How to teach your ferret to like the duck soup:

You are offering your ferret it’s own kibble, bland vanilla yogurt and bland vanilla Ensure and your ferret is refusing to touch it. The reason for this is the texture, ferrets need to get used to the texture of a “grainy pudding” which is where Ferretone comes in.

If your ferret is not interested in the soup at all, drizzling a little of Ferretone on it will make the soup enticing. (It goes without saying if your ferret has never had Ferretone before this won’t work)!

Some other options are;

  • Apply a little of the duck soup mixture to the tip of your ferret’s nose. The ferret will automatically clean it’s nose. You may have to do this repeatedly  for the first week while your ferret is in reality managing to lick off maybe a teaspoon worth of duck soup.
  • Dab your finger in the duck soup and offer your finger to your ferret. Perhaps even rubbing your duck soup coated finger along the ferret’s back gums. I have known ferrets who enjoy this method that they demand this royal treatment long after they have learnt to like the duck soup.
  • You may have to scruff your ferret, suck up some duck soup in a syringe and apply the syringe to the back corner of the ferret’s mouth. Slowly, gently squeeze the syringe as you do not want to have your ferret “inhale” the duck soup.
    • Never offer the syringe via the front of the ferret’s mouth!
  • Using a baby’s spoon (think Dollarama)  put a little duck soup on the spoon and offer the spoon to your ferret. Believe it or not I have had ferrets who will finish a full dish of duck soup one spoon full at a time, but will not touch the dish itself.

It typically take several days for the ferret to learn to like the texture of the duck soup and willingly lick it right from the dish. Please note that if you go months without offering duck soup you will be back to square one as the ferret will no longer ‘remember’ liking this texture.

Give your ferret a teaspoon or two once a week so that he will see this as a weekly treat. If your ferret is sick, the duck soup mixture can be offered every 4 to 6 hours depending on whether the ferret is also still eating some hard kibble.

In the shelter sick ferrets get a dish of duck soup for breakfast, supper and bedtime.  A critically ill ferret may be offered a thinned duck soup by syringe every hour to two hours until the crisis has passed.

Miscellaneous Questions:

Q: Why am I using my ferret’s own kibble?

A: Because he is familiar with the taste and smell, if the first time your ferret is having duck soup is during an illness this is not the time to introduce a new food and cause further stomach upset.

 

Q: Why the vanilla yogurt?

A: The yogurt contains live active bacterial cultures that your ferret needs to replace in it’s gut due to having diarrhea

 

Q: Why the Ensure?

A: Ensure is a ‘high protein’ food. You don’t want your ferret using more energy to crunch and eat hard kibble than what he is going to benefit from nutritionally, licking Ensure burns minimal calories so the  nutrition stays on the positive side.

 

Q: How long should I give my sick ferret the duck soup? You give the duck soup as long as the ferret is too sick/weak to eat his dry kibble. Once the ferret is feeling better (watch the litter box) you will know to slowly reduce the servings of duck soup until you are back to offering it as a weekly treat.

 

Q: Can I give duck soup every day to a healthy ferret?

A: I would not recommend this as the ferret’s teeth will quickly get a build up of plaque from the soft food.  I don’t know of any ferret owner dedicated to brushing their ferret’s teeth after each duck soup feeding.

 

Q: My vet told me to give my sick ferret a can of their AD brand wet food – should I?

A: What my experience has shown is that this is a food that is foreign to the ferret and so he most likely will turn his nose up at it and may even gag.  If your vet indicates the wet canned food is necessary then add it to your duck soup mixture in the blender. The idea behind the canned wet food is the same reasoning as for Ensure.  You want your ferret to burn as few calories as possible eating a high protein food so that the ferret is not expending more energy to eat than what the ferret is gaining. Canned wet food is a source of high protein food in an easy to digest formula.  You would then want to have your ferret get used to the canned wet food while he is healthy.  Canned wet food can be to expensive in a multi-ferret home. Most ferret wise vets will be happy to hear you have introduced them to the duck soup blend and will tell you that your duck soup will work just as well as the AD canned wet food.

 

Q: Why do I keep smelling the duck soup long after feeding my ferret?

A: Well, I would say you are ‘wearing’ some duck soup in your hair, on your arms, maybe a smudge of it across your cheek where your ferret rubbed his face!  If I have had a ferret fight me to take his duck soup I will look like I rolled in the stuff – but I am a crazy ferret mom and will do what it takes even if it means my ‘perfume’ has all the dogs in the neighborhood drooling over me!!