Ulcers can come on from frustration and stress. This can be from not getting out of the cage enough, being handled too much, often being held when they want to get down, not having enough room to run and play, too much noise, frequent loud noise, and not having a place to rest where there isn’t noise, light or activity to interrupt them.
Ulcers can be deadly! An ulcer needs to be treated quickly so it doesn’t worsen. So, the ferret needs to get to the vet asap.Signs of an ulcer can be –
Gagging when drinking water (one of the first signs, but also a sign of nausea)
Gnashing teeth after eating or drinking
Black or tarry stool (black indicates a bleeding ulcer)
Lack of appetite (almost always accompanied by another symptom)
The first form of treatment is to use Carafate or Sucralfate. This coats the stomach, helps keep the acid in the stomach from worsening the ulcer, and helps with the pain. (Some vets prescribe Barium. This is okay, but tends to be more helpful with coating the intestines than the stomach.)
Next, you want to feed the ferret soup as much as possible, rather than kibble. Kibble is rougher on the stomach and harder to digest. It can aggravate an ulcer.
If the ulcer is really bad, you can give a human stomach medication like Pepcid. My preference is Zegerid. It’s a generic Tagamet in a capsule. Crush a 10 mg Pepcid tablet or empty a Zegerid capsule in with 10 ml of Ferretone or salmon oil. Mix really well. Do not refrigerate. Pepcid – give .25 ml once a day. Zegerid – twice a day. Do not give within one hour of any other medication, as it will keep the stomach from absorbing that medication and you won’t get the benefit of it. These medications cause an alteration to the bacteria in the gut, which can cause intestinal problems too. We shouldn’t use it unless we have to and absolutely no more than two weeks at a time.