Ferret Fur Everywhere!

Our ferrets blow their coats twice a year.  Around the end of February into March, ferrets will start shedding that beautiful thick luxurious winter coat.  Your ferret may “blow” his coat in one or two days coating everything in sight with fur or he may decide to spread the shedding over several weeks with tufts of fur left behind in his hammock.

Cheech getting a good brushing from Fred

Ferrets become very itchy when they are shedding.  Using a soft brush on your ferret helps to loosen the fur and give them a good scratch at the same time.  You don’t want your ferret inhaling all this loose fur! Worse, you don’t want your ferret to groom himself and ingest all this loose fur.  If he licks and ingests too much of his own fur, he can give himself a life threatening blockage requiring major surgery and a huge vet bill.

I have tried many types of brushes over the years and thanks to my friend Colleen, I have fallen in love with this round cat brush.  This brush fits nicely in the palm of my hand. Made of soft rubber, it contours the ferrets body nicely. It’s easy to remove the accumulated fur and of course very easy to wash with soap and water. **Don’t leave this soft rubber brush lying around after brushing.  Your ferret may decide to chew on it because it’s soft rubber and give himself a blockage!**

soft rubber brush for short haired cats

I have discovered that this rubber brush is also great for getting that thick mat of fur off the split hammocks. I have already worn out a washer and dryer due to an accumulation of ferret fur that doesn’t seem to get caught by the filter and gets into the guts of the machines.  I had a split hammock that was “loaded” and I certainly didn’t want to spend an hour picking the fur off of it.  One or two swipes with the brush and the hammock was relatively clean of the fur. Wow!

split hammock with “some” fur

excess fur removed prior to washing

condensed mat of Cheech’s fur in the hammock

mat of fur removed from inside split hammock

After using the brush to get as much fur off the hammock; I will wet my hand and pass it over the bedding and get the fine fur that the brush didn’t pick up.

Tiko, a gorgeous sale male came to the shelter in the late fall.  He adjusted to shelter life while he awaited his forever home.  I was getting to know him.  On litter box changing day I inspected his litter box as I do for each and every ferret.  It is the best and quickest way to determine if your ferret is sick.  When I looked into the litter box I immediately saw a strange poop!  Red flag went off.  I removed this poop so that I could examine it in minute detail.  It was not your normal fecal matter.  It was a poop containing nothing but FUR!! Tiko was a ferret that groomed himself lots and seeing as it was shedding season, he had ingested all his loose fur.  I was very lucky that he was able to pass this  blob of fur. He could have died as I would not have suspected a blockage and may not have gotten him to the vet in time!  Tiko could have easily been looking at major surgery to remove a blockage caused by his own fur.  Tiko is a ferret that you cannot forget to give hairball remedy on a weekly basis.  The hairball remedy ensures that his fur is “greased” and can pass easily through his system!

poop made up of ferret fur

poop dissected revealing it’s all fur

Jill – Part 2 – Lies challenged

I’ve blogged  about Jill.  Jill and her bonded partner Jack were adopted by a young lady.  Within a week there were complaints of the ferrets being itchy and possibly having fleas etc etc.  As explained in my previous blog; eventually she called me to tell me that Jill was dying and she needed to surrender her because she couldn’t afford vet bills. She refused to return Jack at the same time.  Jill was not dying; she was blowing her coat and only had her soft undercoat. She was a nice solid weight.  It took some time, but eventually Jill was sent to live at our satellite shelter with Bridget and her new ferret friend China Girl.  Jill had found love again.

jube-jube-aka-jill

Well, there was so much more “dirt” I could have shared but, I took the high road.  Turns out, that the young “lady” has been busy telling “alternate facts” regarding the adoption. How do I know this?  Turns out she began bad mouthing me to a current member of our association telling our member all about this terrible adoption. I was so happy to here that this member defending me and put this young “lady” Kayla in her place.  Our member did not know anything about Jill and Jack, she just knew me and how I conduct the shelter business and it wasn’t adding up! This member uses the services where this young lady Kayla works.  I would sure love to be a little bird watching what happens if she runs into the Kayla now that she has all the facts.

So, let me now share the facts with the corresponding documentation.  We are a non profit charitable organization and so everything is and has to be documented.  It made it so easy for me to challenge her lies!  I have blacked out her last name and address and phone number – if I was a mean person I could let the whole world know what a liar she is. It’s not slander when you have the documents substantiating everything.

Adoption processed May 2, 2017.  Receipt issued. Jack and Jill a bonded pair discounted to the adoption fee of a single ferret – $80.00 plus membership of $35.00 for a total of $115.00.  Received $120.00, and gave her the $5.00 difference. Now most folks have donated that $5.00 to the shelter, but she wanted her change.

Jack & Jill's Adoption Receipt

Jack & Jill’s Adoption Receipt

Jill adoption page 1

Jill adoption page 1

Jill Adoption page 2

Jill Adoption page 2

A week later I received a call from her complaining Jack and Jill were scratching a lot. I made suggestions about changing the laundry soap, using vinegar in the rinse and their cigarette smoking outside away from them. I made my first offer to gave her the adoption fees back and take the ferrets back. Offer declined.

The complaints continued so on May 11th, they met me at our vet clinic.  At our cost, I had the ferrets rechecked by the vet.  Our vet gave them both a clean bill of health except for ear mites.  I paid for Revolution. The vet bill came to $125.55 (with my discount). Do the math.  I am now $5.55 in the hole on this adoption. Not the point because our shelter isn’t about profit but about placing ferrets in good homes. If we break even, we are happy.

Jack & Jill re exam May 11th

Jack & Jill re exam May 11th

Kayla and her mom were not happy with the vet’s assessment.  In front of the vet, I offered to take the ferrets back with me right then and there and refund them their money.  Kayla declined, stating she loved them but she was sure Jill was a sick old lady and no way was she 3 year old. I suggested that they take the ferrets to a vet of their choice for a second opinion.  Kayla and her mom again  refused stating they didn’t have the money to waste on that! They knew what they knew, I had sold them an old and sick ferret. Jack of course was ok.

I let a week or so go by and then I sent off an email asking how things were going and telling them I looked forward to seeing them at the Spring frolic in June.  I watched for them at the frolic but they did not attend.

The next time I heard from Kayla,it was July 7th around mid morning. Kayla was calling me from her doctor’s office .  She was crying and  told me that Jill was very sick.  She had stopped eating.  She couldn’t afford vet bills, so she wanted to surrender Jill but she didn’t want to give up Jack.  I told her that as a bonded pair, if Jill was coming back Jack would have to come back too. The conversation became heated and at one point she had her mother call me and that conversation was not pleasant.  My integrity, my vet’s integrity were both called into question. Kayla did not have gas money to bring them back, whining about me living all the way across the city from her! Funny how the drive to adopt them wasn’t too far!

I contacted our President to advise him of the situation and to request that he accompany me when I collected the ferrets (at this point I was still hoping for both). At this point I was expecting to pick them up around 5ish. I put the vet clinic on standby that I may be bringing in a sick and dying ferret.  I didn’t want Jill to suffer and if she needed to be euthanized, I wanted to make sure they would have an appointment time for me.

Kayla kept pushing back the time I could pick them up. I have kept the texts from that day on my cell phone.Kayla had gone out for the evening and was now stating that she wasn’t dying, just had stopped eating. Fred and I ended up collecting Jill just after 10 pm that night, July 7th (notice it’s 2 months). She showed me that Jack was healthy (that was the final negotiation I could work out).  Fred and I drove two blocks and then took pictures documenting Jill’s condition.  She was a perfectly healthy weight, bright eyed with her soft undercoat and no guard hairs.

Jill Surrender form, page 1

Jill Surrender form, page 1

Jill surrender page 2

Jill surrender page 2

As soon as the vet clinics opened, I contacted a different vet clinic and  took Jill in as an emergency. I asked them to do a full work up health assessment and to provide documentation.  This was another expense that was totally unnecessary! As Fred and I expected, the vet pronounced her a perfectly healthy middle aged (approx. age of 3 years) ferret.

So, Kayla!  If you must tell people what a horrible person I am. You are welcome to tell everyone how you dislike me the person, but DO NOT MALIGN the shelter.  At least state the facts!

I did not adopt out an old sick ferret.

You did not return her within 2 weeks.

I did not refuse to return the adoption fee; offering several times to return the full fee for both ferrets.

I did not end up giving you back half the adoption fee.

I am happy to hear that Jack’s health did not decline over the loss of his beloved Jill.  I do believe that you love Jack and that was why I chose to keep our interaction quiet and move on. It’s too bad you couldn’t do the same.

 

Jill’s heartache turns into a second chance at love

This is a story of a bonded pair, the heartache and the second chance at love.  Jack and Jill were surrendered to the shelter.  It was obvious they adored each other.  We do not split bonded pairs and we make that quite clear during adoptions.

In time, an adoption was processed for Jack and Jill.  Within the first month there were rumblings of discontent.  They scratched too much. They didn’t play together. They were sick.  The ferrets were re-checked by our vet and he pronounced them a healthy pair of furries. The vet’s expertise was questioned. Things deteriorated from there.  I got a call that Jill was dying; there was something wrong with her.  The new owner was only willing to return Jill, insisting on keeping Jack.

Jill was picked up and she did not look sick or “dying”. She had blown all her guard hairs; but she had a good weight to her.  We took Jill to a different vet clinic in the morning and got her accessed . Once again she was given a clean bill of health.

My job now was to make sure she didn’t die of a broken heart after loosing Jack.  I worried about Jack but I had no control over that.  Jill refused to make friends with any of the other furries in the shelter.  She lost weight, she pined for Jack.  Slowly she put the weight back on but her spirit seemed broken.

Bridget, my satellite shelter mom inquired about bringing her there to help her old timer China Girl who had recently lost her cage mate. It was worth a try.  It took about a month for the girls to get along.  They share a cage but don’t sleep in the same hammock.  When they are out playing, they follow each other around and play. They have bonded.  Bridget tells me they don’t let each other out of sight.  I am so happy Jill has found furry love again.

Jill whom Bridget renamed Jube Jube adores Bridget.  Jube Jube has fallen hard for Bridget; she has found a human to love and trust again. When she climbs up on the couch for her snuggle time with Mommy; whoa is you if you try to touch Bridget. Jube Jube is not sharing her cuddle time with China Girl or Bridget’s spouse Danny.

jube-jube-aka-jill-snuggling-with-bridget

jube-jube-aka-jill

Hank ‘s Close Call

Hank’s Close Call (as shared with Deb)

Hank is one of our three fur babies. He has a cinnamon coat, is one and a half years old, and is probably one of the most well-mannered ferrets around. He’s had many great adventures since he came to live with us but just last week after one of Hank’s big romps around the house is where his next adventure began.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hank along with his one-year-old sable little  brother  Riley, and three-year-old marked white older sister Darla were having their daily fun time outside of their cage. Under the watchful eyes of their feline sisters Francine and Lucy, all three ferrets were bouncing around having a grand old time. The room was full of dooks and the pitter-patter of their little feet as they chased each other around. Hank was paying close attention to the new automatic cat feeder that had suddenly appeared in the room. Unbeknownst to him his feline food dish had been moved downstairs in order to be closer to their litterbox (Francine has a hard time remembering where to go when the time arrives).

Playtime continued until pretty soon we realized that it was suddenly a lot quieter and that someone was missing. After some investigation we realized that Hank had quietly retired back into his cage and was curled up under his blanket. Peculiar we thought, but he must just be tired after his playtime. Riley and Darla finished their play-time and soon it was bed time. Hank was still laying in his cage; he wasn’t sleeping though, just staring at nothing in particular. After picking him up we realized how lethargic he was. He just laid there in Teekca’s arms with his head down. Very  strange. We thought maybe he was just very tired from his playtime so we put him back in his cage to sleep.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

In the morning Hank perked up like he usually did when we fill up their food bowl and he walked around a bit. He seemed to be well rested and back to normal. Fast forward a few hours to around 4:30pm after we were done work. Teekca noticed that Hank was just lying there in his cage like the night before. She picked him up and found that he was drooling… a lot. He also didn’t eat or drink anything all day. This was when we knew for sure that something was not right. We immediately got on the phone and called our vet at Tuxedo Animal Hospital. We needed him to be seen right away.

Unfortunately, Hank’s vet was not scheduled to be in until 9:00 am the next morning. They suggested we phone Henderson Veterinary. Same  thing. No one would be able to see him until the following morning at 9:00 am. This continued for a while. Birchwood? Nope. Sage Creek? Nope. Centennial? Nope. Southglen? Nope. We were told to contact Winrose. Finally, someone would be able to see Hank at 7:30pm – a bit later than we wanted but this was better than waiting until the next morning. After the vet technician heard Hanks symptoms she briefly put me on hold and spoke with the vet. The vet wanted us to bring him in ASAP.

We packed Hank up as quickly as we could and drove down to Winrose Animal Hospital to meet with Dr. McDonald. Hank was brought into the examination room immediately. We took Hank out of his carrier and all he did was lay on the table like he was speed bumping. A  very sad speed bump. We were both so worried for Hank because we have never seen him behave like this before. We brought Dr. McDonald up to date on everything and even mentioned that Hank ate some of Francine and Lucy’s kitten food the night before. Dr. McDonald immediately took his temperature and heart rate. She found that his body temperature was somewhere around 34 degrees (extremely low), and his heart rate was very slow as well. She said these are usually the symptoms of organ failure. Our little Hank was very, very sick.

They immediately brought him in for x-rays to check for a blockage and wrapped him in heat to try bring his body temperature back up. Nothing showed up on his x-rays to immediately to  indicate a foreign body, but the area around his pancreas showed up foggy (usually caused by inflammation). They still did not want to rule out that Hank had eaten something that would have caused a blockage (objects like string and foam do not show up well on x-rays). They decided to give Hank fluids under his skin to keep him hydrated, force fed him some medicated digestive food, and gave him some anti-inflammatory medication. Dr. McDonald told us to take Hank home for the night and make sure we keep him warm. We needed to get Hank’s body temperature up again – this was very important. We scheduled a follow up appointment for 9:00am the next morning.

Friday, January 6, 2017

We brought Hank in for his follow up appointment first thing the next morning and found that Hank’s temperature and heart rate increased and was almost close to normal. Unfortunately, there was no improvement to his behaviour and he had still yet to eat or drink anything on his own. Dr. McDonald hospitalized him for the day so they could do blood work and more tests. Throughout the day they gave Hank a barium swallow followed by an x-ray. The barium in his body would ‘light up’ under x-ray and would give a better idea if there was a blockage.

They drew blood for testing, gave him an IV (which of course he pulled out twice), some pain killers, and kept him under heat. The new x-rays showed that the barium did not make it past his stomach except for a small amount that made it to his colon. This was an indication of a blockage although there was still no indication of a foreign body. The blood tests showed a high red blood cell count (sign of dehydration), low creatinine level (caused by low protein), and immature red blood cells (result of inflammation). His blood sugar was normal at 10.5 which ruled out insulinoma. His lipase level (pancreatic enzyme) was extremely high at 3475. Normal lipase levels for ferrets are anywhere between 0-200. This was extremely worrying. Dr. McDonald immediately began treating Hank for pancreatitis. Dr. McDonald gave us a brief lesson on pancreatitis.

This is a condition mostly found in cats and dogs and there is very limited knowledge of it in ferrets. Wonderful, right? She told us that the pancreas is an organ that produces hormones (like insulin) and secretes enzymes into the intestines to aid digestion. Nestled between the stomach and small intestine, it tends to swell (usually painfully and potentially fatally) when it’s egregiously insulted through a variety of different causes like rapid change in diet and/or high fat intake (perhaps kitten food?).

This inflammation and its effects on the body are referred to as pancreatitis. When pancreatitis occurs, the pancreas releases enzymes and other substances into the surrounding area of the abdomen. These substances cause localized inflammation that damages the pancreas and nearby organs and can lead to life-threatening complications. Essentially the organs begin to digest themselves. This is why Hank was so lethargic and quiet. His body was eating itself and he was dying. This was now a life and death situation.

Our options now were to simply continue his anti-inflammatory medication and hope for a change (anti-inflammatory medication takes around 1-3 days show change) or we could admit Hank for exploratory surgery. At this point  Dr. McDonald still has not ruled out a blockage due to a foreign body. If they found a foreign body in his stomach and/or digestive tract they would remove it, if they found that there was nothing there then they would simply stitch him up and continue his medication.  Dr .McDonald offered to give Hank an ultrasound free of charge to check if anything appeared that would indicate a foreign body. After the ultrasound there was still no indication of a foreign body. This was strange since there was obviously something preventing anything from going past his stomach.

At this point we had to sit down and have the hard talk about how far we were willing to go for Hank. We had spent over $700.00 on his vet bills up to this point. Would we pay the $1090 for Hank’s surgery? Would we just simply wait for things to get better? We ultimately decided that we would do whatever necessary to get Hank back to normal. Hank was the first ferret that both of us had ever seen and held, he was our first fur baby and he was part of the family. Both of us have very supportive families so we decided to start a GoFundMe page for Hank. We managed to raise almost $400.00 om our friends and family to put towards Hanks vet bills (Thank you Deb for your generous donation of $50.00!).

We thought about what to do logically. Hank already had two rounds of x-rays done and they could not find any sort of foreign body. He even had an ultrasound that indicated the same. His lipase levels were extremely high and his first x-rays showed up foggy around his pancreas. We figured that the inflammation around his pancreas was causing his organs to inflame so much that nothing would pass. This had to be it. Hank was dying and the last thing we wanted was for him to undergo a surgery that might ultimately be for nothing. We decided to just let Hank continue with his anti-inflammatory medication and wait for it to kick in. If there was no change by Monday, we would bring Hank in for surgery.

Dr. McDonald respected our decision and she showed us how give Hank his medication and how to force feed him with a syringe as he still was not eating at this point. They gave him enough liquid under his skin to keep him hydrated until Monday although this time they warmed it up to help him with his temperature and off we went. We brought Hank home and hoped that his mediation would begin to show change. We even went out and bought Hank a nice warm heated blanket. We attempted to give Hank his medication for the first time that evening and we found out how much a ferret can struggle regardless of how sick they are. It was like wrestling with a big old fish!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

We checked on Hank first thing in the morning and wonderful news… Hank pooped! We didn’t realize how happy one could get over a little bit of poop. Things were obviously getting back to normal inside Hanks little body. He was still a little lethargic but he perked his little head up to say good morning and as if to say “I’m feeling a little better today”.

We phoned the vet to give an update and we decided that we will not be bringing Hank in for surgery that day and that we were going to let his medication continue to do its job. Dr. McDonald was not scheduled to work this day but said she would stay on call for the weekend in case something happened and Hank needed to come in for surgery. Dr. McDonald is wonderful.  We brought Hank in for a checkup because he didn’t eat or drink anything and we were unable to give him his medication the night before.

He was seen by another Doctor at Winrose. She took his temperature, checked his heart rate, and gave us more doses of medication. One of the nurses gave us some tips on how to make sure Hank takes his medication. This involved us making a Hank burrito. She also showed us that force feeding is even messy for her too. Hank stayed in his cage for the rest of the day, watching us from the comfort of his new blanket as we did our normal Saturday things.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Teekca had to work today so it was just me and Hank at home. When I went to check up on Hank he jumped up and put his paws on the cage to meet me. I opened the door reached my hand in and he climbed right up my arm like he always does. Our little guy was feeling better! I decided to let him roam around the living room and what would you know… he started to play with me! Under the watchful eyes of his feline sisters Hank and I played until I brought out Riley and Darla. We kept Hank apart in our ‘sick time’ cage while he was feeling down. Even though they could always see each other they were so happy to be reunited.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hank had a follow up appointment today. They gave him a checkup and what would you know, it looks like Hank is almost healthy again! His temperature is normal, his heart rate is normal, and he is back to his personable self. We will continue giving him is medication until he is done on Friday. Hank was on the mend!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Well it’s been over one week since Hank had his near death experience and we are happy to report that he is pretty much 100%. He is done his medication, is back to eating and drinking, and is back to his playful, mischievous self.

We wrote this story in the hopes to show others how quickly things can go downhill for ferrets. Hank didn’t eat a mysterious foreign body like an earplug, but simply ate his sisters kitten food. We didn’t think anything of it because he eats a mixture of ferret food and cat food every day. What is a little kitten food going to do, right? While maybe adult food is okay for ferrets, definitely keep your kitten food away from them. Kitten food is high in fat which helps the kittens grow. The adult cat food that our ferrets have mixed in with their ferret food is super high in protein and is a bit higher quality than the kitten food we buy. As you already know ferrets are fairly sensitive little creatures and we definitely need to keep a close eye on what they eat. In total Teekca and I have spent around $1300 on Hank this past week on vet visits, medications, and his heated blanket. We hope that you can learn from our very expensive and scary lesson that we learned.

Stewart

&

Teekca

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)