Vomiting & Swallowed Objects in Ferrets

Ferrets are inquisitive pets that explore the world with their mouths.  Commonly, they chew off pieces of toys or furniture as they play.  In some cases, they may swallow a chunk of these objects and it goes on to cause problems.  They are also amazing furry vacuum cleaners and it is a wonder at the sorts of things they find and swallow even in a household that is meticulous about cleaning!  Pieces of leather or rawhide, string or thread, fabric, foam or stuffing from cushions and toys,  rubber bands, and pencil erasers are just a few of the many things that we have removed from ferret stomachs.

It is also common to find hair balls in ferrets and it is suspected that this is due to a disorder of the stomach motility or some other primary gastrointestinal problem wherein the normal amount of hair a ferret removes by daily grooming simply does not pass through the gastrointestinal tract like it should.  A small amount of Laxotone or similar product may help prevent hairballs in susceptible ferrets.

Once a ferret has swallowed an object, there is a chance that it may lodge in the stomach or intestine.  If it does, the ferret will often stop eating and drinking and is some cases vomit.  Vomiting is never normal in ferrets and often a sign that your ferret needs to see us or another veterinarian quickly. 

Some ferrets become lethargic and grind their teeth when they are in pain.  A ferret in pain is a ferret that needs emergency care as soon as possible.

Some intestinal foreign bodies can be palpated during physical examination by a veterinarian. X-ray films and other tests may also be needed to confirm the presence of a GI foreign body in your ferret.  Most GI foreign bodies that are not passing through the intestines need to be removed surgically. The good news is that if caught early, most ferrets do very well with surgery and recovery quickly. Our doctors and staff are very experienced with ferret surgery and will provide great care for your ferret when it is in need.