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  #1  
Old 09-03-2010, 08:49 PM
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*blackrose *blackrose is offline
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Default Senior ferret questions

I have a few really random questions about senior ferrets, and some of this is just me thinking out loud. If anybody could help clear up some of my confusion/share their thoughts that would be great!

Casey is going to be six years old in January, Dameon will be five (in January). Both are Marshall ferrets, and besides Dameon coming down with a bad cold about a year ago, neither have ever had a health problem.

Here recentally, Casey as been aging. I've seen it before with my past senior animals: she's not as active, she doesn't like to play with Dameon anymore, she doesn't really play with me (something she LOVES doing), and she just sleeps most of the day. Her coat also isn't as lush as it once was (although she's always had a sort of flimsy coat). She is still eating and drinking fine, her energy is just shot.

Now, about oh, three months ago I did switch the ferret's diet. I took them off of Blue Buffalo Wilderness (because it is so expensive! O.o) and moved them over the Taste of the Wild, which is what I feed Apollo and it is so much easier to afford. Could this food switch have something to do with her sudden aging? Or is it just her age? It is really hard for me to pay $3.00 a pound for food, but I'll switch back to the Blue Buffalo if I need to and just suck it up elsewhere. Does anyone else have a reccomondation for food? I haven't noticed any change with Dameon.

Now, something else I'm wrestling with and I really hate to even think about. If Casey's sudden aging isn't food related, but aging...I'm assuming Dameon will be a single ferret sooner or later. How will this effect him? I read somewhere that if a ferret's "buddy" passes away that they will go into a depression and this is concerning me. Has anybody ever had that happen, or is it more rare than common?

I will hopefully have plenty of years left with both of them, but I want to be prepared in case I don't.

Also, how skinny is skinny? After I watched my coworkers ferrets for a week I was like with how thin mine were! Granted his were balls of blubber, but mine seem too thin. I can just lightly run my hand over their sides and I can feel their ribs. They are free fed and they eat what they want, but is that too skinny? They normally do get more fat over the course of the winter, but I wanted to make sure how they are now is normal for summer.

*Sorry for any grammer/spelling mistakes...I'm tired and everything is kind of bluring together.
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  #2  
Old 09-03-2010, 09:00 PM
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AllieMackie AllieMackie is offline
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Feeding cat food is generally a nono. Ferrets have similar dietary needs to cats, but there are a lot of amazing ferret kibbles on the market that I really must suggest you switch to. Most ferret folks I know feed a mix of 2-3 kibbles to get the most nutritional benefit and to keep their tummies accustomed to a few foods, since ferrets tend to imprint on foods much more than a dog or cat.

Good brands include:
Zupreem (regular or grain-free)
Dr. Foster & Smith
8-in-1 Ultimate Crunchy (avoid the other 8-in-1 foods)
Innova EVO Ferret
Totally Ferret (a bit worse than the rest but still rather good)

If you're in an area where you can't get them easily, ferret.com has amazing prices, and I know a lot of folks who solely buy their ferret foods from them. Having them on a ferret-specific kibble will help them derive proper nutrients and will help with putting weight on.

My ultimate weight gain cure for ferrets is duck soup! You should always have some duck soup on hand for your ferts. Here's a super easy recipe I use whenever I make batches.

Blend these things in a blender or food processor:

- About 1 cup of softened kibble (I drown it in water, then microwave it for fifteen seconds)
- A can of Hill's A/D prescription diet for felines (available at the vet, usually you just have to ask for some)
- a jar or two of chicken baby food (just chicken and broth, nothing else)
- a dollop of Ferretone

Pour the blended mix into an ice cube tray or two and freeze it, and bag the cubes once they're frozen. Microwave the cubes when you need them, and add water to make it liquidy.

For putting some weight on, I recommend a cube a day per ferret. Duck soup is handy to have on hand in case one of your older ferrets gets sick eventually, too - duck soup given by syringe kept Palom alive a lot longer than if he was without, as he wouldn't eat kibble when he was ill.

Hope that helps!
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  #3  
Old 09-03-2010, 09:03 PM
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PWCorgi PWCorgi is offline
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Sort of OT, as I don't have any advice for the OP.

I've been lurking ferret forums and I keep hearing about Duck Soup, but if there is no duck in it, why is it called Duck Soup?
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  #4  
Old 09-04-2010, 01:40 PM
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*blackrose *blackrose is offline
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Why is cat food considered a no-no? I was actually told by other people that feeding a high quality cat food is perfectly fine. For example, the EVO ferret diet is exactly the same as their cat diet. Same ingredients, same nutrients, same everything. And another example that kind of proves my point:

This is the TOTW food that I currently feed (a cat food):
Quote:
Protein: 42% Fat: 18%
Calories: 3,745 kcal/kg (390 kcal/cup) Calculated Metabolizable Energy

Ingredients
Chicken meal, peas, sweet potatoes, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potato protein, roasted venison, smoked salmon, natural flavor, ocean fish meal, methionine, potassium chloride, taurine, choline chloride, dried chicory root, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, yucca schidigera extract, dried fermentation products of Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, vitamin E supplement, niacin, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin A supplement, biotin, potassium iodide, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, manganous oxide, sodium selenite, vitamin D supplement, folic acid.

Guaranteed Analysis
Crude Protein 42.0% Minimum
Crude Fat 18.0% Minimum
Crude Fiber 3.0% Maximum
Moisture 10.0% Maximum
Zinc 120 mg/kg Minimum
Selenium 0.4 mg/kg Minimum
Vitamin E 150 IU/kg Minimum
Taurine 0.15% Minimum
Omega-6 Fatty Acids * 2.8% Minimum
Omega-3 Fatty Acids * 0.3% Minimum
And the Grain-free Zupreem (a ferret food):
Quote:
Ingredients: Chicken meal, Sweet potatoes, Peas, Chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Potato protein, Salmon, Venison, Natural chicken flavor, Fish meal, DL-methionine, Choline chloride, Taurine, Dried chicory root, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Yucca schidigera extract, Dried fermentation products of Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Vitamin E supplement, Niacin, Manganese proteinate, Copper proteinate, Zinc sulfate, Manganese sulfate, Copper sulfate, Thiamine mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A supplement, Biotin, Potassium iodide, Calcium pantothenate, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 supplement, Manganous oxide, Sodium selenite, Vitamin D supplement, and Folic acid.


Guaranteed Analysis
Crude Protein 42.0% min
Crude Fat 18.0% min
Crude Fiber 3.0% max
Moisture 10.0% max
I fail to see how those are different, besides Zupreem having a ferret on teh bag and being three times more expensive. Drs.Foster&Smith sells a 30lb bag of it for over $100! I can buy 36lbs of TOTW from TSC and only spend $45.

And I was worried about them not being willing to switch, but they do just fine. They've eaten quite a few different brands of food mixed in with their Wilderness and after the initial "OMG, it isn't Wilderness!" stage that lasted about two days they had no problems eating it. When I switched from Zupreem to Wilderness they took to it right away (they actually refused to eat the Zupreem) and I didn't notice any negative difference in their health.

Thanks for the website, and the recipe! I'm not sure if Casey will eat anything other than kibble, though. She won't even eat chicken or canned cat food (whereas Dameon eats everything that moves, or once moved).

Quote:
I've been lurking ferret forums and I keep hearing about Duck Soup, but if there is no duck in it, why is it called Duck Soup?
Good question! LOL Maybe because Chicken Soup is so much more common of a name? Although I'm sure you could put duck in it.
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:55 PM
JessLough JessLough is offline
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Cat food is fine, and is often given for people in places where ferret food is not available. It is recommended KITTEN food, but the brands you feed, I believe, the cat food is all stage (so there is no kitten specific formula).

As far as Dameon adjusting to single life, as long as you spend a little extra time with him, he should be fine. You will just notice that he will be more attached to you, and want to spend time with you, since you will be his new sole buddy.

What you are saying about Casey though, I do suggest going to a vet and getting a blood glucose test done. It sounds as though she may have insulinoma, a very common disease in older ferrets, that is very easily treated with prednisone. I know in the states you can get a big bottle of Prednisone for $4 at Walmart, your vet can give you a script to pick it up. She is probably slowing down because her sugar is not high enough, and she is making too much insulin.
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Old 09-04-2010, 04:10 PM
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AllieMackie AllieMackie is offline
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Some grain-free cat foods and kitten foods are good, I actually hadn't realized TOTW was so close to Zupreem, haha! I might have to try it sometime, TOTW cat is cheaper than Zupreem. My mistake!

But yeah, duck soup is really good for them. I start mine with syringes and they learn to love duck soup. Heck, Porom prefers it by syringe now, the weirdo.
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Old 09-04-2010, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
What you are saying about Casey though, I do suggest going to a vet and getting a blood glucose test done. It sounds as though she may have insulinoma, a very common disease in older ferrets, that is very easily treated with prednisone. I know in the states you can get a big bottle of Prednisone for $4 at Walmart, your vet can give you a script to pick it up. She is probably slowing down because her sugar is not high enough, and she is making too much insulin.
I actually just thought of that today. She didn't seem to be acting right and I thought, "I wonder..." so I whipped out my Ferret's for Dummies book and was scrolling through the illness section and came across Insulinoma and the symptoms made me pause.

Is this something urgent that I need to attend to, or can she wait it out until Tuesday? All the vet clinics are closed Saturday/Sunday and Monday is Labor Day. I'd like to be able to take her to my vet as I get a 50% discount on all medical procedures, but if it is an emergancy, I think the exotic vet may be willing to see me. I remember when my Guinea Pig was attacked by my ferret and I freaked out because it was in the evening and no vets were open, that when I took her in to the exotic vet the next morning he scolded me and told me that even thought it happened late at night I still should have paged him and he would have seen her.

Quote:
But yeah, duck soup is really good for them. I start mine with syringes and they learn to love duck soup. Heck, Porom prefers it by syringe now, the weirdo.
Hahaha, silly ferret.

And hey, you learn something new everyday! I know that I was very relieved to realize it actually was so close to the grain free Zupreem. Makes my wallet and my concious happy! I do understand where you are coming from in regards to feeding cat food: I shudder to think what a ferret fed Science Diet or Purina would be like.
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Old 09-04-2010, 04:28 PM
JessLough JessLough is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *blackrose View Post
I actually just thought of that today. She didn't seem to be acting right and I thought, "I wonder..." so I whipped out my Ferret's for Dummies book and was scrolling through the illness section and came across Insulinoma and the symptoms made me pause.

Is this something urgent that I need to attend to, or can she wait it out until Tuesday? All the vet clinics are closed Saturday/Sunday and Monday is Labor Day. I'd like to be able to take her to my vet as I get a 50% discount on all medical procedures, but if it is an emergancy, I think the exotic vet may be willing to see me. I remember when my Guinea Pig was attacked by my ferret and I freaked out because it was in the evening and no vets were open, that when I took her in to the exotic vet the next morning he scolded me and told me that even thought it happened late at night I still should have paged him and he would have seen her.
She should be fine for a few days. Yah, that sounds like how Rascal started out, but I waited too long to get him seen. If you notice she seems to be just laying there, staring into space, put some corn starch or something else sugary on her gums, to get some sugar in her. Good forbid, if she has a seizure (in ferrets it is just blank look in their eyes, shaking, and puking white) then get some sugar into her and you will have to get her to the vet right away, even if she comes out of it seemingly fine.

ETA: If it is something like insulinoma, they are going to explain to you that it IS tumors on her pancreas. Try not to be too frightened, they often live happy full lives once you figure out the correct dosing of meds (can be a bit of a game at first). Rascal was diagnosed back in February, and is doing awesome still, and he will be 6 on the 16th

With insulinoma, make sure that she is eating every 2-3 hours. Even if that means syringe feeding her some baby food or duck soup.

Of course, let us know what happens!
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:38 PM
Brattina88 Brattina88 is offline
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My first thought was insulinoma, too reading your post... but it could just be aging, too I'd take mine in, just for peace if mind if anything. I can't say either way with the food, as I don't feed kibble I'm out of kibble practice lol
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:53 PM
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I definitally will keep you guys updated. I haven't noticed her ever having a seizure or going into a comatose state, but now I'm ultraparanoid and keep lifting up the robe she is sleeping under to peak in on her. She is quite annoyed with me, actually.

I'll hopefully get her into the vet sometime Tuesday. I'll take her in to my vet first for the blood draw due to the discount, but since I think only one of the vets has ever worked with ferrets, I'll probably go to the exotic vet for anything further. I had to work with them once for my Guinea Pig and they are amazing.
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