Nursing care of sick and post-surgical ferrets

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Information about Nursing care of sick and post-surgical ferrets

Published on January 4, 2013

Author: bcarlson15210



This is the PowerPoint version. Trying to get notes viewable.

Nursing Care forSick and Post Surgical Ferrets Presented at the June 2011 IFC Symposium by Barb Carlson

Topics Why in-home care The basics Special concerns  Ill ferrets  Elderly ferrets  Rescued/found ferrets Measuring, math and mixing meds

Disclaimer I’m not a vet This information is based on my personal experience This info is to be used with your vet’s help not in place of it

Why in-home post-surgical care?

Less expensive Most ferrets don’t need much more than food, water, warmth and meds.

Better hour-by-hour care You will be caring for only one ferret You can check on them more often

Ferret is more comfortable A gentle roommate can make a difference  Helps keep them warm  Comforting

Ferret is more comfortable Ferret is in a familiar environment  Vet’s office is bright, noisy and stressful

Familiar food Special food can be misplaced They might not be enthused about whole prey Storage could be a problem

Familiar food Sick ferrets like their familiar duck soup  At the right temperature, too!

Ferrets respond to affection No one loves your ferret like you do They will often eat just to please you Sometimes they need a reason to stay

The Basics Hydration Temperature regulation Food Medication

Hydration—Very Important

Hydration Dehydrated ferret won’t eat or drink Slows recovery Damages kidneys

Check for tented skin Back of neck  Easy  Affected by weight loss Belly  A little harder but more accurate

Neck pinch

Neck pinchIf the skinstays up,that meansthe ferret isdehydrated

Belly pinch

Belly pinchThe longer itstays up, themoredehydratedthey are

Sub-Q Fluids You’re going to do what?!

Sub-Q Fluids Sub-q stands for ―subcutaneous‖ The fluids make a ―camel hump‖ that is absorbed slowly I prefer my fluids on the outside.

Sub-Q fluids can save a life If severely dehydrated, they don’t absorb oral fluids very well

Sub-Q is not that hard It can be done easily at home It’s hard to do it wrong Air bubbles under the skin won’t kill the ferret

Sub-Q Fluids are IV fluids You get them from your vet Different kinds are used for different things

To start, you need IV fluid …

… a 25-35cc syringe …

… and needles Some people use 22 gauge needles

Butterfly needles can be used

You need a distraction Ferretone, Nutrical or other tasty treat

A helper is nice Optional, but nice Helps by holding the ferret Will leave both your hands free

Draw fluid into the syringe

Use a fresh needle each time Goes into skin easier Warm fluid is nice

Give it in the scruff ―Reverse scruff‖ the ferret Make a ―tent‖

Insert needle parallel to body Apply pressure and fluid will go in slowly Not too fast

Sub-Q tips Hang on tight Don’t get bitten Pinch hole to help it close Leakage is common A little blood is common

How much, how often? Give 25-35cc two or three times a day Need around 60-90 cc of fluid a day Duck soup counts

Temperature Keep the ferret warm, but not hot If he is very sleepy, he won’t move Snuggle-Safe Disk  Doesn’t get TOO hot  No wires  No electricity  Non-toxic

Food: Fast recovery needs fuel Canned a/d Chicken baby food Homemade duck soup Hint:  A Gerber baby food jar filled to the top is 60 cc

After surgery They can have hard food unless the vet says not to They usually prefer a soupy duck soup

Small amounts frequently At first, just a little Don’t force them to eat right away if they don’t want to By the next day they should be able to eat They need at least 60cc of liquid food daily

Sick ferrets like it soupy Should pour like soup They like it warm Put a towel down so they can stand more easily

Getting them to eat duck soup

Start with it on your finger Hold them if they aren’t cooperating From finger, go to a spoon From a spoon, go to a bowl If they eat from the bowl, rejoice!

If you have to force-feed A feeding syringe with an ―O-ring‖ lasts the longest

How to force-feed Scruff ferret Dribble a little at a time into front of mouth Give them a break from time to time You can fit 18cc in a ferret stomach, minimum

When to stop trying If they clamp their teeth shut and refuse to swallow, reconsider if you should be forcing them to eat Don’t force feed if they are blocked Don’t try to feed if unconscious

Medications: Ask questions! Name, dosage, how often. What is it supposed to do? Given how long, refrigerated, expiration Write things down

Medications: Check it Read the instructions back to the vet Check the bottle when you get it  Vet techs and pharmacies can make mistakes

Medication tips Give meds near back of mouth Make sure you have a good grip on the ferret It’s easier to depress plunger when held like this

Keep track of meds Make a schedule  It’s much easier to remember  You can give accurate info to the vet 9:15 8:30 9:30 8:45 9:15 8:30

Pain Control Ask about pain control Most vets give a pain shot  Ask to be sure  If not, request something Ferrets heal much better when pain is controlled

Stitches: Concerns You can get stitches wet if needed Some watery blood leaking out is normal Call your vet if you see deep red blood dripping for more than hour

Stitches: Avoid problems No climbing for a week with abdominal surgery  Take out hammock Day 4-5 is when stitches start to dissolve  Watch for problems

Stitches: Scabs If scabs keep forming after a few days, something is going on (usually infection)  Not always serious but should be addressed  Check with vet for instructions

Stitches: Bulging is bad Soft and puffy Bulging out Red, hot, swollen  A slight hard bulge is normal. You’re feeling internal stitches

Stitches: If they rip open If you can see intestines, use sterile gauze moistened with saline to wrap the ferret. Transport immediately. If you only see flesh, not as serious  Call the vet for instructions

Staples Usually heal quickly Sometimes will rotate as skin heals  If loose, remove before they rotate  Get a staple-remover on the Internet As they loosen, they can get caught on things – no climbing!

Keep on top of things Keep a log  List time & amount of feedings  List time and amount of medications  List changes in symptoms Take the log with you to the vet’s office or have it next to the phone when you call  More information helps the vet know what to do Know what the poop looks like

Elderly ferrets Keep track of:  weight gain/loss  temperature  breathing  activity level  color of: skin, urine, poop  how much water they are drinking  what and how much they eat

Rescues: Special concerns Dehydration Weight loss Ear mites Fleas, ticks Wounds Intestinal parasites

Rescues: Special concerns Heat/cold Tooth damage ADV Distemper Quarantine!

Measuring, math and mixing

Measuring medication mL stands for milliliter 1mL = 1cc Marks are 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, etc. So 0.5 is half a mL Use the zero and the decimal point – it avoids confusion

Measuring medication Use the top of the plunger This syringe is at 0.2mL

Measuring medication The arrow is pointing at 0.4mL

Measuring medication Here, the arrow is pointing at 0.45 – halfway between 0.4 and 0.5 You would place the top of the plunger at that line

The math of medication mL = milliliter, wet measure mg = milligram, dry measure Know which one your vet is using

Know your pills The capsules are 250mg Amoxicillin The tablet is 875mg Amoxicillin

CompoundingYour vet prescribes 25mg Amoxicillin twicea day. You have a 250mg capsule. Empty capsule into small container 250mg capsule/25mg dose = 10 doses. Add 10mL of water and the dose is 1mL. If you add 5mL of water, the dose would be 0.5mL.

CompoundingYour vet prescribes 25mg Amoxicillin twicea day. You have an 875mg tablet. Crush tablet (use two spoons, pill crusher or mortar and pestle) 875mg tablet/25mg per dose = 35 doses If you add 35mL of water, the dose is 1mL If you add 17.5mL of water (half), the dose is 0.5mL

CompoundingYour ferret needs 2mg of azathioprine (likeImuran) once a day. You have a 50mg tablet.You’re told it can be mixed with Lactulose. 50mg tablet/2mg per dose gives you 25 doses If you mix in 25mL of Lactulose, the dose would be 1mL. You can cut everything it in half like we did with the Amoxicillin Grind the pill well and add just a little Lactulose. Mix thoroughly. Slowly add the rest, mixing well

Medication tips Unless told otherwise, store liquid medications in refrigerator Once mixed, Amoxicillin is no good after 14 days  If you don’t refrigerate, mixed Amoxicillin goes bad after 24 hours Mix liquid medications before drawing up  Certain meds don’t have to be mixed: Pediapred for example Note the color – if it changes, the meds may be bad Most pills stay good for a long time if kept dry

Serious problems Pale gums, ears, nose Heavy, labored or fast breathing Collapse/coma Yellow skin Orange or green urine Straining in litter box Bulging stitches

A few bloodwork norms from Rectal temperature: 101-103 PVC 45-60 WBC (x103/mm3) 2.8-8.0 BUN (mg/dl) 8-37 Creatinine (mg/dl) 0.16-0.848 BUN/Creatinine 10-457 Total Protein (g/dl) 4.4-7.3 Hemoglobin (g/dl) 13-18 Albumin (g/dl) 2.5-4.17 Globulin (g/dl) 1.8-2.9 Total Bilirubin (mg/dl) 0.1-0.5 ALT (IU/L) 13-176 Glucose (fasted) (mg/dl) 65-164 (average: 100-110)

Sources Ferret Universe   Blood values  Drugs used in ferrets  Info on illnesses Miami Ferret, Ferret Health Care   Info on illnesses Other sources of good info:  How to check ferret’s blood sugar 

Duck soup: My recipe 10 lb chicken legs and thighs Put in crock pot, cover with water and cook for 24 hours or until bones get soft Grind up solids in food processor, bones and all Add fat and some of the juice to make smooth Freeze in containers

Duck soup: Other versions 1 can A/D and 2 jars chicken baby food, water Ground up kibble, a/d, chicken baby food, water Chicken or turkey baby food, water Look on the Internet for ideas

Thank you!!

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