Working With Your Vet

We have to work in cooperation with the vets. If you want to know why they’re doing something, ask. If you think they should be doing something, mention it and see what they have to say. It’s your pet. Vets don’t know everything (just like us), and certainly not about ferrets. Don’t be afraid to ask or say something. Your pet’s life is in your hands. We’re all continually learning about them. Do not, however, take the word of a person that has ferrets or just something you read on the Internet as being correct over the vet.

If your ferret is dehydrated from diarrhea or other reasons, insist the vet give subcutaneous (sub-q) fluids immediately if they are not planning to. Do not wait to have tests run, except for a blood glucose test. Sub-q immediately. This can be the difference in how quickly a ferret recovers and greatly reduces discomfort and distress.

Some vets will run tests without asking and you end up with a high bill. Ask the vet to discuss with you any tests that need to be done.

As an example, one of my ferrets had pancreatic surgery (for insulinoma). The vet also removed some small cysts from the body cavity. He recommended the cysts be sent for biopsy. I asked what were the odds it was something that was a problem. The vet said very low. I asked, if it was a problem, what were the odds it would be something treatable. The vet said negligible. So, if I had followed his advice, I would have paid $120 for biopsies that had a very, very slim chance of showing anything could be wrong that could be treated.

Some vets want to keep the ferret overnight. Sometimes this is necessary, especially if on oxygen or an IV. Sometimes it is not necessary. Always ask if the ferret absolutely has to stay overnight. If the vet has 24 hour staff, it may be safer to let the ferret stay there. However, if the clinic does not have 24 hour staff, you may be able to take better care of it at home overnight since you can watch it and feed it, then return with the ferret to the vet the next morning. Plus, staying at the vet overnight is very stressful with being in their cage, dogs barking, cats meowing, different smells, etc.

Ask for medications in quantity, so they will be cheaper. Also, ask for prescriptions so you can get them filled on-line or at the grocery. Most grocery stores will fill a prescription for the antibiotic Amoxycillin for free. It is more convenient to get meds from the vet and that usually outweighs the savings.

Do not let the vet put the ferret under anesthesia unless it must be done. Ferrets don’t take anesthesia well and there’s always a risk of death or problems. If the ferret is sick, some vets try to give it gas to put it to sleep to draw blood or to do other minor things. If the ferret is really stressed or dehydrated, it is less harmful to have the gas than increase the stress to the ferret.

I always take a towel to the vet’s office to put on the examination table. The tables are cold and slick, both of which are uncomfortable to the ferret. If the vet insists on the ferret sitting directly on the examination table, pick up the ferret and leave. This vet is not looking out for the best interests of the ferret.

If your vet does not know what adrenal disease or insulinoma is or he insists on running a blood panel for adrenal disease, find another vet. The vet doesn’t know enough about ferrets to be treating them. If the vet recommends treating low blood glucose with anything besides Prednisone or a similar drug, see another vet.