Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Button looks on as Buddy takes a nap

Buddy and Button March 2008

They love this bed made by Crittercomforts/LFFR. The sets are beautiful, handmade and affordable. Best of all they are durable. I have several bedding sets made by them — one around six years old. Many washings later and it hardly shows ware. Crittercomforts is a part of LFFR Bedding (Little Feet Ferret Retreat). They have been handcrafting quality ferret bedding in a pet free building since 2001 to benefit the many former rescues taken in as permanent residents. They also donate often to shelter raffles and causes to help other ferrets.

In addition to selling at their etsy store, Crittercomforts/LFFR, you can find a selection on ebay.

This is the last photo taken of Buddy and Button together. It was taken March 2008.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Buddy 7.23.00 – 5.8.08


It saddens me to inform you that Buddy past away peacefully while he slept. He was our first ferret and a wonderful friend. We were blessed to have him with us for nearly eight years. He will be missed.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

i’m not a cat or a rat, but could i be a service animal?

I do not know much about service animals, but do know a bit about ferrets. I will do some research and let you know if I learn of anything relating ferrets as service animals. If anyone has information about ferrets as service animals, please let me know. This is a great topic worth exploring. However, I find it is not a practical venture for a ferret.

The first thing to know about a ferret is that it is not a cat and it is not a rat.

Ferrets can NOT be left out to roam freely like a house cat. To own a ferret, room(s) that you allow your ferret to play in must be ferret proof. There are many things to consider when ferret proofing including no holes — not even small ones. This makes kitchens and bathrooms off limits. People who have ferrets too often over look small openings such as those up and under the fridge or stove. Also, many cabinets (kitchen and bath) may look sealed at the floor, but there are usually a little opening at the baseboard. Once in there, there are the openings around most pipes, then into the wall and goodbye ferret. In addition, sitting on a ferret under a couch cushion never ends well. And forget about having a reclining chair or rocker... ouch! Most people who have ferrets actually have a ferret room, but even in there it is a supervised play time. Someone put it best when they said, "a free roaming ferret never lives long". I would think that the ferrets ability to assist someone would be very limited... if you could get the ferret to focus on the required task at all.

On the other hand, a ferret is NOT a rat. Ferrets can not be caged up all day and night. They require a lot of exercise and that means supervised out of cage time every day.

Finally, ferrets sleep 18 hours a day. I would find it difficult to rely on an animal that is catching some shut eye most the day.

In conclusion, a ferret is a fun pet, but requires a lot of attention — when they are not asleep.

Could a ferret be a service animal?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

ferrets in the news: helping the disabled

You don’t often hear about ferrets in the news. Even rarer yet is a story about ferrets helping the disabled. Ferrets are smart, clever and very trainable — so why not?

Lucy Gwin, a 65-year-old resident at the George Washington Hotel, is being evicted for having ferrets. The management clearly states that pets are not permitted and no mention of ferret ownership was presented during the lease agreement. Gwin claims her ferrets act as service animals by alerting her to seizures. She even has a note from a doctor stating that the ferrets are medically necessary.While in court over the matter, Judge J. Albert Spence said she violated her lease by having the animals. He evicted Gwin and ordered her to pay $99.50 in court costs. You can read more on this story here.

The ADA defines a service animal as “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.”

Personally, I would like to believe that ferrets can preform such wonderful tasks as alerting individuals with disabilities. However, I struggle with my own observation that ferrets, though being great companions, are somewhat self centered. Without meeting Lucy Gwin and her ferrets, it seems like a case of he said, she said in the courts. None the less, she and her ferrets are blessed to have each other. I am sure they are wonderful pets for her.

I am reminded of a great article in the March/April 2008 issue of Ferrets Magazine titled Finding Happiness with Ferra-Care. It shares the touching story of how ferrets have a positive impact on the life of an Alzheimer’s patient.

While writing this post, I came across a wonderful blog, Pitt Rehab, who posted about the Lucy Gwin’s story here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

taking teeth grinding seriously

Teeth grinding means one thing — something more serious is wrong with your ferret that if left untreated can be life threatening. The problem is stomach pain, but the cause for that pain could be one of several things including stomach ulcers or an intestinal blockage.

Ferrets can develop stomach ulcers due to stress. This can progress to dark tarry stools which contain blood. (If this occurs, regardless of good heath or not, you should take action.) With ulcers, the loss of blood may cause anemia — also life threatening.

Ferrets can easily have an intestinal blockage from a foreign object or hairball. Rule number one to avoid an intestinal blockage — ferret proof your home. To a ferret, the buttons on the remote control and telephone are all to tempting a treat. Styrofoam packaging crumbles and can be hazardous. Also, never feed them nuts, and give them only small bits of raw fruits and vegetables. Rule number two — brush your ferret often and offer him small amounts of a laxative such as Marshall’s FerretLax on a regular basis as a preventative measure. An intestinal blockage can often mean surgery — so take that extra effort to prevent such a scenario.

With stomach pain, the sick ferret may reduce food intake or stop eating all together. Not eating predisposes him to additional problems.

None of these problems will fix themselves on their own and will only get worse. Visit your Vet immediately for an evaluation to determine the cause of the grinding (and stomach pain). They can recommend an appropriate course of action.

A note on packing peanuts: They say that the newer, starch packing peanuts probably won't cause a blockage. They are even marketed as safe for ferrets. I still avoid them in our home. Even if they do not cause blockage, they are inappropriate for them to ingest.

Despite all Buddy’s many health problems, he has been feeling much better. So I was somewhat surprised that he started grinding his teeth. The sound was like nails on a chalk board. He only did it while eating. After a phone call to Dr. Wagner, who is farmiliar with Buddy’s health history, he was able to diagnose the problem as stomach ulcers. Because of the ulcers, eating caused him pain as his stomach muscles stretched. He is already on an antibiotic, so the plan was to treat him symptematicly. He was prescribed Sucralfate — 2ml orally twice a day ideally 15 minutes before he eats. (Since he eats when he wants throughout the day... this is a guess for me.) The purpose of the Sucralfate is to coat the stomach. He was also prescribed 1.5ml orally of a narcotic (a mix of 3 Torbugesic tablets in a Butorphanol syrup) to be administer twice a day (or as needed) for pain.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

the older ferret: he may not be the energizer bunny

My ferrets have always come when I call them. So I guess I should not have been surprised when I challenged Buddy to follow me around the house and he did. Both ferrets have supervised out of cage time every evening for about an hour. Buddy, being the older ferret that he his, would mosey a short while then head back to the hammock. Knowing how important it is for him to keep moving, the two of us do several laps around the house together. My first few attempts were trying as I coaxed him to keep going; at every pass of the cage, he tried to sneak in. Now it is a routine — I walk and he follows... slowly. I’m just happy he will keep going and going and going...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

the older ferret: prostate infection

Knowing Buddy is an older ferret, I keep a close eye on him in order to head off any poor health developments. Recently, I could hear that he was making a noise as he tried to use th litter box. It sounded like somewhere between a whimper and a squeal. My heart sank — he was clearly in pain. In between his many unsuccessful, uncomfortable attempts in the litter box, he did not seem to be in any discomfort and carried on doing all things ferret — eating, drinking, playing. These activities were frequently interrupted and it was back to the litter box. As hours passed, I considered everything from an intestinal blockage to his adrenal tumors getting the best of him. Come the next morning, he used the litter box just fine. However, future attempts continued with the whimpering. I made an appointment with the Vet the next day.

I was very glad I made the appointment — his health had taken a turn for the worse, but by knowing the facts I can take action to help him.

He has now developed lymphosarcoma. (It was probably there for sometime but he was not showing any symptoms.) In turn, lymphosarcoma was the reason his adrenal tumors were smaller during his last Vet visit. Since the lymphosarcoma is now advancing, it is now involving the adrenal tumors and the lymph nodes adjacent to the prostate. The cortical steroids (Prednisolone) that he has already been taking for some time now were effective in reducing the size of the adrenal tumors now compounded by lymphosarcoma. On top of this, due to his age, his prostate is enlarging and hardening. This enlarging is exacerbated with the fact that he has developed a mixed gram positive/gram negative infection.

Treatment is to continue on the steroids (Prednisolone) indefinitely to keep the adrenal problem under control. The progression of the adrenal problem should slow. In turn, it should also help to slow the progression of the lymphosarcoma.

Because the urine analysis read the prostate infection was both gram positive / gram negative, Clavamox antibiotic was chosen — 0.5ml orally twice a day.

With the antibiotic, we should be able to cure the prostate infection but all his other ailments are incurable. We are focusing on controlling the advancement of the adrenocortical disease and the lymphosarcoma. Both adrenocortical disease and lymphosarcoma are very common in ferrets and also brought on by age.