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Nursing care of post-surgical, sick and debilitated ferrets
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Nursing care of post-surgical, sick and debilitated ferrets

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The slides from the presentation I did at the IFC meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 2011

The slides from the presentation I did at the IFC meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 2011

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  • 1. Nursing Care forSick and Post Surgical Ferrets Presented at the June 2011 IFC Symposium by Barb Carlson
  • 2. Topics Why in-home care The basics Special concerns  Ill ferrets  Elderly ferrets  Rescued/found ferrets Measuring, math and mixing meds
  • 3. Disclaimer I’m not a vet This information is based on my personal experience This info is to be used with your vet’s help not in place of it
  • 4. Why in-home post-surgical care?
  • 5. Less expensive Most ferrets don’t need much more than food, water, warmth and meds.
  • 6. Better hour-by-hour care You will be caring for only one ferret You can check on them more often
  • 7. Ferret is more comfortable A gentle roommate can make a difference  Helps keep them warm  Comforting
  • 8. Ferret is more comfortable Ferret is in a familiar environment  Vet’s office is bright, noisy and stressful
  • 9. Familiar food Special food can be misplaced They might not be enthused about whole prey Storage could be a problem
  • 10. Familiar food Sick ferrets like their familiar duck soup  At the right temperature, too!
  • 11. Ferrets respond to affection No one loves your ferret like you do They will often eat just to please you Sometimes they need a reason to stay
  • 12. The Basics Hydration Temperature regulation Food Medication
  • 13. Hydration—Very Important
  • 14. Hydration Dehydrated ferret won’t eat or drink Slows recovery Damages kidneys
  • 15. Check for tented skin Back of neck  Easy  Affected by weight loss Belly  A little harder but more accurate
  • 16. Neck pinch
  • 17. Neck pinchIf the skinstays up,that meansthe ferret isdehydrated
  • 18. Belly pinch
  • 19. Belly pinchThe longer itstays up, themoredehydratedthey are
  • 20. Sub-Q Fluids You’re going to do what?!
  • 21. Sub-Q Fluids Sub-q stands for “subcutaneous” The fluids make a “camel hump” that is absorbed slowly I prefer my fluids on the outside.
  • 22. Sub-Q fluids can save a life If severely dehydrated, they don’t absorb oral fluids very well
  • 23. Sub-Q is not that hard It can be done easily at home It’s hard to do it wrong Air bubbles under the skin won’t kill the ferret
  • 24. Sub-Q Fluids are IV fluids You get them from your vet Different kinds are used for different things
  • 25. To start, you need IV fluid …
  • 26. … a 25-35cc syringe …
  • 27. … and needles Some people use 22 gauge needles
  • 28. Butterfly needles can be used
  • 29. You need a distraction Ferretone, Nutrical or other tasty treat
  • 30. A helper is nice Optional, but nice Helps by holding the ferret Will leave both your hands free
  • 31. Draw fluid into the syringe
  • 32. Use a fresh needle each time Goes into skin easier Warm fluid is nice
  • 33. Give it in the scruff “Reverse scruff” the ferret Make a “tent”
  • 34. Insert needle parallel to body Apply pressure and fluid will go in slowly Not too fast
  • 35. Sub-Q tips Hang on tight Don’t get bitten Pinch hole to help it close Leakage is common A little blood is common
  • 36. How much, how often? Give 25-35cc two or three times a day Need around 60-90 cc of fluid a day Duck soup counts
  • 37. Temperature Keep the ferret warm, but not hot If he is very sleepy, he won’t move Snuggle-Safe Disk  Doesn’t get TOO hot  No wires  No electricity  Non-toxic
  • 38. Food: Fast recovery needs fuel Canned a/d Chicken baby food Homemade duck soup Hint:  A Gerber baby food jar filled to the top is 60 cc
  • 39. After surgery They can have hard food unless the vet says not to They usually prefer a soupy duck soup
  • 40. Small amounts frequently At first, just a little Don’t force them to eat right away if they don’t want to By the next day they should be able to eat They need at least 60cc of liquid food daily
  • 41. Sick ferrets like it soupy Should pour like soup They like it warm Put a towel down so they can stand more easily
  • 42. Getting them to eat duck soup
  • 43. Start with it on your finger Hold them if they aren’t cooperating From finger, go to a spoon From a spoon, go to a bowl If they eat from the bowl, rejoice!
  • 44. If you have to force-feed A feeding syringe with an “O-ring” lasts the longest
  • 45. How to force-feed Scruff ferret Dribble a little at a time into front of mouth Give them a break from time to time You can fit 18cc in a ferret stomach, minimum
  • 46. When to stop trying If they clamp their teeth shut and refuse to swallow, reconsider if you should be forcing them to eat Don’t force feed if they are blocked Don’t try to feed if unconscious
  • 47. Medications: Ask questions! Name, dosage, how often. What is it supposed to do? Given how long, refrigerated, expiration Write things down
  • 48. Medications: Check it Read the instructions back to the vet Check the bottle when you get it  Vet techs and pharmacies can make mistakes
  • 49. Medication tips Give meds near back of mouth Make sure you have a good grip on the ferret It’s easier to depress plunger when held like this
  • 50. Keep track of meds Make a schedule  It’s much easier to remember  You can give accurate info to the vet 9:15 8:30 9:30 8:45 9:15 8:30
  • 51. Pain Control Ask about pain control Most vets give a pain shot  Ask to be sure  If not, request something Ferrets heal much better when pain is controlled
  • 52. Stitches: Concerns You can get stitches wet if needed Some watery blood leaking out is normal Call your vet if you see deep red blood dripping for more than hour
  • 53. Stitches: Avoid problems No climbing for a week with abdominal surgery  Take out hammock Day 4-5 is when stitches start to dissolve  Watch for problems
  • 54. Stitches: Scabs If scabs keep forming after a few days, something is going on (usually infection)  Not always serious but should be addressed  Check with vet for instructions
  • 55. Stitches: Bulging is bad Soft and puffy Bulging out Red, hot, swollen  A slight hard bulge is normal. You’re feeling internal stitches
  • 56. Stitches: If they rip open If you can see intestines, use sterile gauze moistened with saline to wrap the ferret. Transport immediately. If you only see flesh, not as serious  Call the vet for instructions
  • 57. Staples Usually heal quickly Sometimes will rotate as skin heals  If loose, remove before they rotate  Get a staple-remover on the Internet As they loosen, they can get caught on things – no climbing!
  • 58. Keep on top of things Keep a log  List time & amount of feedings  List time and amount of medications  List changes in symptoms Take the log with you to the vet’s office or have it next to the phone when you call  More information helps the vet know what to do Know what the poop looks like
  • 59. Elderly ferrets Keep track of:  weight gain/loss  temperature  breathing  activity level  color of: skin, urine, poop  how much water they are drinking  what and how much they eat
  • 60. Rescues: Special concerns Dehydration Weight loss Ear mites Fleas, ticks Wounds Intestinal parasites
  • 61. Rescues: Special concerns Heat/cold Tooth damage ADV Distemper Quarantine!
  • 62. Measuring, math and mixing
  • 63. Measuring medication mL stands for milliliter 1mL = 1cc Marks are 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, etc. So 0.5 is half a mL Use the zero and the decimal point – it avoids confusion
  • 64. Measuring medication Use the top of the plunger This syringe is at 0.2mL
  • 65. Measuring medication The arrow is pointing at 0.4mL
  • 66. Measuring medication Here, the arrow is pointing at 0.45 – halfway between 0.4 and 0.5 You would place the top of the plunger at that line
  • 67. The math of medication mL = milliliter, wet measure mg = milligram, dry measure Know which one your vet is using
  • 68. Know your pills The capsules are 250mg Amoxicillin The tablet is 875mg Amoxicillin
  • 69. CompoundingYour vet prescribes 25mg Amoxicillin twicea day. You have a 250mg capsule. Empty capsule into small container 250mg capsule/25mg dose = 10 doses. Add 10mL of water and the dose is 1mL. If you add 5mL of water, the dose would be 0.5mL.
  • 70. CompoundingYour vet prescribes 25mg Amoxicillin twicea day. You have an 875mg tablet. Crush tablet (use two spoons, pill crusher or mortar and pestle) 875mg tablet/25mg per dose = 35 doses If you add 35mL of water, the dose is 1mL If you add 17.5mL of water (half), the dose is 0.5mL
  • 71. CompoundingYour ferret needs 2mg of azathioprine (likeImuran) once a day. You have a 50mg tablet.You’re told it can be mixed with Lactulose. 50mg tablet/2mg per dose gives you 25 doses If you mix in 25mL of Lactulose, the dose would be 1mL. You can cut everything it in half like we did with the Amoxicillin Grind the pill well and add just a little Lactulose. Mix thoroughly. Slowly add the rest, mixing well
  • 72. Medication tips Unless told otherwise, store liquid medications in refrigerator Once mixed, Amoxicillin is no good after 14 days  If you don’t refrigerate, mixed Amoxicillin goes bad after 24 hours Mix liquid medications before drawing up  Certain meds don’t have to be mixed: Pediapred for example Note the color – if it changes, the meds may be bad Most pills stay good for a long time if kept dry
  • 73. Serious problems Pale gums, ears, nose Heavy, labored or fast breathing Collapse/coma Yellow skin Orange or green urine Straining in litter box Bulging stitches
  • 74. A few bloodwork norms fromhttp://www.miamiferret.org/fhc/physiology.htm Rectal temperature: 101-103 PVC 45-60 WBC (x103/mm3) 2.8-8.0 BUN (mg/dl) 8-37 Creatinine (mg/dl) 0.16-0.848 BUN/Creatinine 10-457 Total Protein (g/dl) 4.4-7.3 Hemoglobin (g/dl) 13-18 Albumin (g/dl) 2.5-4.17 Globulin (g/dl) 1.8-2.9 Total Bilirubin (mg/dl) 0.1-0.5 ALT (IU/L) 13-176 Glucose (fasted) (mg/dl) 65-164 (average: 100-110)
  • 75. Sources Ferret Universe  http://www.ferret-universe.com/  Blood values  Drugs used in ferrets  Info on illnesses Miami Ferret, Ferret Health Care  http://www.miamiferret.org/fhc  Info on illnesses Other sources of good info:  How to check ferret’s blood sugar  http://www.unc.edu/~pjdutche/bloodsugar/
  • 76. Duck soup: My recipe 10 lb chicken legs and thighs Put in crock pot, cover with water and cook for 24 hours or until bones get soft Grind up solids in food processor, bones and all Add fat and some of the juice to make smooth Freeze in containers
  • 77. Duck soup: Other versions 1 can A/D and 2 jars chicken baby food, water Ground up kibble, a/d, chicken baby food, water Chicken or turkey baby food, water Look on the Internet for ideas
  • 78. Thank you!!