Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in Ferrets

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a very common condition in ferrets.  It often starts out as a few days of soft stool or diarrhea about once a month.  Most people don't think that this is a cause for concern because the diarrhea clears up without treatment and the ferret continues to act healthy.  Over time, the episodes of diarrhea become longer in duration and more frequent.  At this point, the ferret starts to lose weight and may develop a rough dull hair coat.  Ferrets with IBD may become more finicky about what they eat and become less playful and sleep a lot.  Left untreated, IBD may progress to a form of cancer known as lymphoma.

This ultrasound of a ferret reveals a mass that turned out to be an intestinal lymph node that was enlarged as a result of inflammatory bowel disease. (The Left Kidney is also pictured.)

At Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital, we offer a variety of tests to determine whether or not your ferret has inflammatory bowel disease.  We start with a few simple tests of the blood and stool. When problems can not be identified in these tests, surgical biopsies of the gastrointestinal tract are needed to confirm IBD.  Once we have a diagnosis, there are different medications, special diets, and supplements that can dramatically improve your ferret's quality of life.

If you are seeing soft stools or diarrhea with your ferret, call and make an appointment today!

This incidence of IBD is much higher for ferrets eating diets containing grains and starches. We recommend feeding Wysong Epigen 90 and Marshall's Ultimate Carnivore grain and starch free diets. Sugary treats should also be avoided. We carry both of these quality ferret diets at our hospital.