Your ferret’s Medications!

Over the years, I have taken shelter ferrets to the vet for a variety of issues. I am very happy when I come home with banana flavoured Amoxicillin; even better if the ferret received an antibiotic injection of Convena. I’m crying inside if I have to give the poor ferret Metronizodole.

The Amoxicillin dispensing label will state Refrigerate. Easy Peasy! But there are so many other medications prescribed for our ferret that come in little dark brown bottles. We know that the dark brown bottle is because the medication is light sensitive. Got it! The label states the dosage, perhaps the label will say Shake before use or give with food. All good!

Where do we store the medication? Well, somehow most of us over 30 have grown up with the universal knowledge that to keep anything “fresh”, you store it in the fridge!! This mind set carries over to medications especially since the odd medication states right on the label, highlighted in yellow, REFRIGERATE.

Turns out most of us have been wrong, wrong, wrong when it comes to medications for ourselves, and our pets. A recent event brought the issue to the forefront. A foster parent accidently put the fostered ferret’s Prednisolone in the freezer along with the home made duck soupies. A phone call to our pharmacist confirmed what I already suspected. The Prednisolone was spoiled. That was a $25.00 Owie! The pharmacist went on to explain that Prednisolone should be kept away from light, in a cool, dark place. I nodded sagely and said all my medications were stored in my fridge.

Imagine my surprise when the pharmacist scolded me gently. He told me 90% of all medications in liquid or pill form should be kept at room temperature. But, but, “cool dark place” I said; the fridge is a cool dark place. Apparently cool as in you don’t want the medication sitting on the ledge over your stove and against an appliance that generates heat. You don’t want the medication sitting on your work desk under a lamp. You want the medication to be away from direct light, in a cool place. The pharmacist went on to say that a cupboard in your kitchen is a perfect spot; not the medicine cabinet in your bathroom which is a hot, humid place at the start of each day!

So I challenged him; Sulcrate – cool, dark place, Pepto Bismal – cool, dark place, Kaopectate – cool, dark place, cat hair ball remedy – definitely room temperature, bandages – your medicine cabinet. We had a good laugh.

I then spoke with our vet clinic and sure enough all medications should be kept at room temperate, in a dark place. Keeping the medication in the fridge can actually cause the medication to degrade and affects its stability.

The only medication that is weird is the Medicam for Cats. The external packaging saying refrigerate, but some vets will tell you to keep it at room temperature. Apparently it is one of those medications that can handle it both ways.

So, unless the label states in yellow highlight refrigerate, make room in a cupboard in the kitchen for all the medications. I want a white lab coat so I can pretend I run a pharmacy lol. I had to go out and buy a small two drawer cabinet to put all the assorted medications and ointments in for the shelter ferrets. My medications and vitamins are all now in a cupboard in the kitchen!

Grooming

While you may see your ferret grooming itself, that doesn’t let you off the hook! There are a few things you need to do as a responsible ferret owner to keep your ferret looking, feeling and smelling good!

Bathing

The most important part of your ferret’s bathing routine is to not over do it, ferrets that bath too often end up with a stronger odor. Over bathing can wash away the oils from your ferret’s fur, which in turn will dry their skin out. When a ferret’s skin dries out it over-produces the oils and the poor ferret gets itchy, which all adds up to one stinky fuzzbutt.

Basically you should only be washing your babies  at most twice a year.  Bath your ferret in the Spring when he starts shedding his winter coat and in the Fall when he is shedding his summer coat. Your ferret can  splash a round in the tub or water dish every day so long as there is no soap involved.

To keep smells down make sure the ferret’s environment is nice and clean; scoop litter daily, dump litter weekly, change the  bedding every second or third day  and clean entire cage monthly (or as needed, my boys are slightly messier so I do more often). Washing down your cage floors with a vinegar solution helps deodorize and sanitize.

Shampoo options vary, there are even quite a few ferret specific shampoos. Although baby shampoo works most shampoos meant for adults aren’t pH balanced properly for ferrets. Conditioners are not required but they can help the ferret’s skin from drying out, a good option is to use conditioner  in winter.

Tips for ferret bath time; make sure water is just over room temperature (or slightly warmer), a ferret’s body temperature is ~ 102 degrees Celsius. At room temperature the ferret will find it cold.  Some ferrets enjoy a bath full of water, others like to be able to walk in the tub and some others like ‘showers.’

Ear Cleaning

Much of the odor on a ferret is actually their ear wax, you should clean a ferrets ears every two weeks. Ear wax is red, brown or gold in colour, if you see something else contact your vet (black ear wax can be a sign of ear mites).

To clean your ferret’s ear;

1. Warm the solution

There are many different options for ear cleaning ‘solutions’ including oils or liquid (I’m not sure on the oil option as they generally say to stay away from oils for ferrets). Purchase the alcohol free ear cleaning solution from your vet as your best choice.

2. Scruff

Scruffing a ferret is identical to scruffing a dog or cat – the extra skin on the animal’s neck behind their head where a mommy or daddy would use to carry their babies. Generally this will make your ferret yawn – which is pretty adorable.

3. Put a few drops of solution into the ferret’s ear

This will help loosen the ear wax

4. Gently massage the base of the ferret’s ear

This is to work the solution inside the ferrets ear

5. Moisten a cotton swab with more solution and clean the outer ear by beginning at the base of the ear

A ferret’s ear canal is shaped like an L.

6. Continue using a moistened cotton swab until the ear wax is gone, then switch to a dry swab to dry the ear out

7. Follow up with a treat

Left untreated ear mites can cause many health issues including deafness

Here are some more step-by-step guides; WikihowWeaselWords, FerretNews

Nail Trimming

It is very important to keep on top of trimming your monster’s nails – when they become too long they can catch on things. Sometimes in an attempt to pull the nail free, your ferret can pull it’s nail right off! Needless to say that is extremely painful and bloody!I have seen my ferrets get their nails caught then go straight into the alligator roll – this can actually cause a ferret to sprain something.

Tools to clipping nails;

1. Small kitten sized nail clippers

Human nail clippers will not work, ferrets have very small nails that can easily be cut too short, they are also thin enough that you can crush the nail if the blade is not sharp enough.

2. Corn starch or Styptic powder

Accidents happen so be prepared for such. The benefit of purchasing Styptic powder is you know it is sterile, but if you are worried about costs Corn starch works just as well to stop bleeding when nails are clipped too short. Styptic powder will sting, while the cornstarch doesn’t and is what the shelter uses with very good results.

3. Ferret Lax (hair ball remedy) or Salmon Oil/Olive Oil/Flax Oil/Canola Oil -which ever oil product you are using.

These are used to distract the ferret while you clip their nails. I generally place my ferret on their back on my lap, put the Ferret Lax or Oil on their tummy and clip their nails while they lick away.

Where to clip: if you look at a ferret’s nail it has a small red dot called the quick and from there out is clear or cloudy (rarely do they have dark nails, often they are dirty though). It’s best to cut as close as you can to the quick, for stronger nails this is easier, for softer you might have to keep a little more room between.

If you find your ferret absolutely hates having their nails being cut there are a few options; my youngest, Radish, I cut two toes at a time. Sometimes that means he goes first, he takes a break while I cut the other ferret’s toes and finish him off at the end. At times Radish cannot stand even that so his back legs I have to do the next day.

Another option for the difficult ferrets is wrapping them in a towel to keep them stationary without hurting or causing more stress. The towel method works by rolling it around the ferret’s body, keeping one paw and their head loose, while a helper distracts your ferret with their oil treat. *This only works on one ferret in a thousand!

Brushing Teeth

This takes getting used to, be gentle and remember this will probably not be your best bonding moment. You can always ease into this by scruffing and touching your ferret’s teeth for a few seconds. Here’s some general steps to follow, but the best is to figure out what works for each of your little monsters;

1. Wet the baby toothbrush or a baby washcloth  and apply a small amount of paste (pet toothpaste, not human)

2. Scruff your ferret

3. Gently brush their teeth, strokes going with the teeth (i.e. top brush down, bottom brush up). Pay special attention to their back teeth as food can get stuck there and they might not notice it.

4. Ending with a treat, this helps with bitter feelings.

5. Now that StrixNB for dogs can be used off label for ferrets. Simply half the dosage. Offer your ferret one dish with regular water and one with the Strix added.

Other links describing teeth maintenance; PetFinderPetsDotCom.

Ferrets that receive lots of soft treats (i.e. baby food, soft diets and duck soup) should have their teeth brushed weekly. For others generally twice a month is good.

You can also take ferrets to the vet – if you start to see greyish green spots this is a good indication that it is time to do this. Taking your ferret to the vet for a full cleaning (dental prophylaxis) should only be done every 2-3 years.

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.

 

Garret Looses the “Urge”

I have been running the Main shelter for 18 years and Garret’s medical problem was a first for the MFA!  Garret’s mom and dad were at their wits end when they called me.  Their handsome boy who was a year and a half had become very aggressive with their female ferret Luna and also their cat.  Garret was “mounting” them incessantly. Garret had also become really really stinky! They were trying to juggle 2 separate ferret play times, hide the cat and look after a new baby.  They felt that Garret was not happy and needed a different playmate. Luna and the cat were so stressed out.

Now I love, love, love the way ferrets smell, but Garret was way over the top! He smelled just like a whole male ferret! Actually, it’s a little strong, but, I didn’t mind it! Sidebar, if you don’t change your clothes after handling said ferret, people at the store give you peculiar looks when you walk by them!

Now years ago we had a young dark eyed white male ferret, approximately 2 and 1/2 years old that was surrendered because he was stinky.  A trip to the vet and follow up surgery revealed a huge tumor on his left adrenal gland.

Off to the vet’s we went with Garret.  My guess was adrenal tumor or maybe incomplete neuter.  I have had female ferrets in with incomplete spay but never an incomplete neuter. Dr. Singh was 95% sure that Garret had a undescended testicle.  Dr. Singh had time that very day to do the surgery. So, before I had time to worry about Garret and the anesthetic be was whisked away.

Garret sporting stitches aftr having a testicle removed. Notice how long he is!

Garret sporting stitches after having a testicle removed. Notice how long he is!

Garret was awake and ready to party when I picked him up 4 hours later.  I was told to keep him quiet for a few days-right! Garret did 36 hours in the hospital cage and then made it clear he was going crazy being confined.

 

I want to thank Garret for his donation to our Show and Tell Kit for the Second year students at Red River College.  I have a Cordoma tumor, a spleen and now a testicle!

Garret's testicle

Garret’s testicle

Garret back to his old self

Garret back to his old self

 

Silly Jocko modifies his bed

Jocko is a spoiled rotten ferret.  He has the “big cage” aka my main bathroom. He has 3 different beds, a gigantic tube to play in, a couple of stuffies and or course his food, water and litter box.  Jocko gets to be the King of the Bathroom because he always uses the litter box except in the last 4 months he has discovered he can poop behind the door which remains open at all times and Mommy doesn’t notice it right away. Brat!  This is his place so now we put newspaper down to catch the extra gifts behind the door.  Yes – I don’t have the heart to put him in a real cage now.  He would miss all the extra attention!

I have a half Plexiglas “door” that I put  in when the bathroom is not being used by a human.  Jocko gets to watch the traffic going by and he get lots of ear scratches and cuddles when a human does come in to use the facilities.

So, I went into the bathroom to run a bath and I was puzzled by Jocko’s position in his favorite bed.  This bed, is his all time favorite even though he is really too big for it.  I have several pictures of him hanging out of it; doing a nose plant over the side!

Jocko curled up in his favorite bed

Jocko curled up in his favorite bed

I went and got the camera before I gave him a poke to wake him up. He thinks bath time with Mommy is his special time. He will beg to be picked up even though he is very afraid of water. I give him ear skritches and hang a leg over the edge of the bath so he can lick it dry!

Back to the story! I am looking at him in the bed and I know it doesn’t look right.  A gentle poke and Jocko wakes up. A slow stretch, and then he slithers off (not outthe bed.  Silly Silly boy!

Jocko fast asleep on his favorite bed

Jocko fast asleep on his favorite bed

Jocko slithering off his bed after Mommy poked him awake!

Jocko slithering off his bed after Mommy poked him awake!

Jocko's favorite bed flipped over -he was sleeping on the bottom of it!

Jocko’s favorite bed flipped over -he was sleeping on the bottom of it!

Jocko's bed put right side up.

Jocko’s bed put right side up.

So it seems that Jocko wanted a “raised” bed and decided to fix his bed to meet the new criteria!  He sniffed at the bed after I put it back upright!  I am not sure I like the dirty look I got for my troubles! See if I let him lick my leg dry!