Ferret Care: Ascites in Ferrets

Ferrets are very active and lively animals. They thrive on interacting and playing with both, humans and other animals. They spend most of their time doing various activities, while the rest is spent on eating and resting. When you observe your pet unwilling to do these activities and prefers to sleep instead, the reason may be due to an underlying illness or medical condition such as Ascites.

Although considered very healthy animals, ferrets are still susceptible to a number of diseases and health issues. One of which is called Ascites, or also known as abdominal effusion, which is described as the abnormal accumulation and build-up of fluid in your pet’s stomach. This health condition is not really common compared to other ferret diseases but also needs professional treatment to avoid developing further complications that can lead to death.

Photo: Lindsey Turner |Flickr

Most Common Symptoms

Various factors cause the build-up of fluid in ferret’s stomach. Thus there are also a number of ways for proper treatment. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Weight gain – this is observed when your pet becomes unusually heavy even if it still eats the same amount of food. The abnormal weight gain is due to the build-up of fluid in its stomach and not by food intake.
  • Fatigue – as mentioned above, ferrets are expected to be very active and seemingly tireless most of the time. So when it continuous to exhibit a lack of energy to do activities or easily becomes tired after short play time, these are commonly caused by the build-up of fluid in its stomach.
  • Loss of appetite – ferrets are good eaters, which means that they are not as picky compared to other animals when it comes to food choices. Ferrets will require a regular supply of food, especially after tiring activities to stack up energy for future activities. When there is a sudden lack of interest in eating or inability to eat regular food supply, one of the most common causes is Ascites or abdominal effusion. Clearly, these symptoms are some of the most crucial signs that your pet is sick and needs immediate treatment. If proper care is disregarded, lack of nourishment will quickly lead to death.
  • Bloated appearance – aside from actually being heavier, your pet will also appear rounder and bigger due to the fluid build-up.
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What are the common reasons for developing Ascites?

There are many factors and causes to be considered when dealing with Ascites, but the most common reasons include:

  • Chronic heart failure – heart issues can greatly affect this medical condition
  • Inflammation of the stomach walls – swelling and inflammation can be blamed to poor diet or intake of unhealthy food items. Ferrets have a very sensitive digestive system so extra caution must be always practiced with regards to daily diet. A steady supply of meat products must represent the majority of the daily food intake. In addition, the meat must always be fresh and clean to prevent developing bacterial formation that can lead to various health issues.
  • Lack of electrolytes, salt, and potassium – Ferrets need more than enough supply of these substances to maintain proper health. Aside from regular supply of clean and fresh of water to keep the body hydrated and moisturized, ferrets also require other sources of electrolytes, potassium, and salt.
  • Kidney diseases – aside from digestive diseases, ferrets are also susceptible to various types of kidney diseases. A specific kidney disease can increase the risk of developing Ascites, so extra care is required to keep the kidney healthy and functioning

Proper Medical Care

As your pet develops Ascites, it can gradually show symptoms one by one or exhibit many at one time. Nonetheless, it is a must to immediately have your pet checked by a vet after observing even a single symptom.

The vet will conduct various tests to get a proper diagnosis. He will get a sample fluid from the abdomen of your pet to correctly analyze the cause of the fluid build-up. The process will include testing for bacterial infection, bleeding in any of the internal organs and protein makeup. In most cases, the vet will also conduct x-ray examination and analysis of urine to improve diagnosis.

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