My Ferret Threw Up – Causes of Vomiting in Ferrets

Q: Why does my ferret throw up? My ferret sugar just vomited and had nothing to eat except some of her food.

Answer: Vomiting in the ferret is caused by a foreign substance in the stomach or upper intestine, chewing and swallowing something (rubber, foam, cloth, etc), or hairballs from seasonal changes shedding.


Ingestion of foreign bodies is the most common cause of vomiting in ferrets. If vomiting is accompanied by a paw in the mouth it may indicate a sharp object stuck in the esophagus (such as bone, or parts of toys).

Signs of throwing up from ingestion of foreign bodies include:

  • Sudden loss of appetite,
  • diarrhea,
  • lethargy
  • hind leg weakness/seizures
  • gastric ulcers (emesis in ferrets are less common diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, compared to other mammals)
  • and sometimes vomiting.
  • hard lumps, or tumor-like masses in the stomach or small intestine.

Ferrets have small intestinal tracts; therefore, if a foreign object is swallowed, it is likely to be stuck. Very rarely will ferret throw up foreign objects.

If the vomiting or diarrhea last more than two to three consecutive hours, if your ferret has blood in the vomit or stool or displays sudden decrease in appetite along with vomiting or diarrhea, it is important to seek immediate veterinary assistance.

Ferret Throwing Up From New/Bad Food

Another important clue is the sick animal’s relationship to food. He could have serious digestive problems from new foods he is eating. Give new foods in small quantities to ensure that it does not make their stomach upset, or that they are not allergic to the new food. Mix in some of its old food with the new food and slowly transition to new, that should keep him from vomiting so much.

Ferrets also vomit from allergic reactions to food. Corn is added to many ferret foods ferret as a cheap filler (like all grains), and not only is it difficult for ferrets to digest, it can cause allergies and vomiting in many ferrets. Grains are of no nutritional value to ferrets and are harmful to their health.

Treatment: If the ferret has developed an allergy to their regular diet, try switching one of the new kibble blends such as duck and potato. I once had a ferret who was throwing up. I changed his diet Evo ferret food, had the litter changed, changed to hypoallergenic detergent, and quit using fabric softener sheets on his bedding, put it in another room in the house. Absolutely nothing made him better, until I changed to a raw diet.

In fact, if you have a ferret vomiting then make sure that you DO NOT feed the same food, as it can make the situation even worse (you can offer a little bit of water mixed with the food, but if they don’t want it, then do not force it). The best thing to do is to take your ferret to the vet for diet recommendations.

Ferret Throwing Up Due to Blockages

Ferrets are susceptible to intestinal blockages of food such as foam rubber, soft plastic, nuts or bones from raw food; Also, hairballs from grooming can block the digestive tract.

Blockages can occur from any foreign matter your ferret eats – eating garbage, grass, leaves, plants, etc. (We call condition pica and can not say what is going through the minds of those pets). Ingesting foreign objects causes abnormal swelling or scaring of intestinal tissue .

The precise diagnosis can be made only with an intestine biopsy which requires an operation. Death from can occur suddenly, and because the intestines can cause bacteria to gather around the object, so the ferret has to see the vet as soon as possible, even if you have to pay in installments.

Treatment: Examine your pets, taking care to look in their mouth for foreign objects such as cuneiform bone in the throat or enlarged tonsils, and feel under their stomachs for evidence of thickening of the intestinal wall. Then they feel along the digestive tract of the stomach to find masses and foreign bodies.

Ferret Vomiting From Bacteria

Bacterial infections are among the most common causes of vomiting and stomach pain in ferrets that can infect the stomach, small intestine or large intestine. Ferrets are susceptible to many bacteria that cause infections of the gastrointestinal tract and produce bloody diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. Ferrets can catch a bacterial infection and the flu from humans. Microscopic parasites such as giardia, coccidia and Cryptosporidium can cause vomiting in ferrets.

Vomiting can also be a symptom of infection bacterium Helicobacter mustelae, or diseases of the stomach and intestines (inflammation of the stomach and small intestine). Helicobacter is caused by the body in the stomach and causes ulcers. In some cases, bacteria access to the abdominal cavity (peritoneum) by the ulcerated areas.

The bacteria most commonly associated with problem is Salmonella, Campylobacter and Helicobacter.

Salmonella is rare in ferrets, however. It takes 5 to 6 hours to incubate in a person or animal body and ferrets have a three hour digestive track. If they were to consume anything with salmonella in it will simply shed the bacteria in their stool.

If vomiting is accompanied by runny stool which is neon , it is very, very likely that it is a disease of ECE, and yes, ferret should be taken to the vet away.

Treatment: Home remedies for upset ferret stomachs include providing probiotics twice a day, feeding good low carbohydrate foods, giving Prevacid twice daily as required, to give an anti-diarrheal such as Kaopectate twice daily as required, to give an additive like slippery Elm twice a day, and antibiotics if the diarrhea gets bad enough to cause a bacterial infection.

Usually, treatment for ECE is amoxi, metro and Pepto – the first for bacteria, other fungi for any issues that may occur and / or develop from the first, and the third for the stomach. Amoxicillin (AKA Amoxidrops or Miomox) or Cephlexen: antibiotic medicine to kill the bacteria. If treatment for “Helicobacter”, the new protocol is the “Bixian”, “no” metronidazole (Flaygl) Amoxicillin and coater ulcer, such as “Carafate”.

Ferret Vomiting Up Hairballs

Stuck hairballs cause vomiting of hair, food, and even water in ferrets. If the ferret is dry heaving, it is possible that no hair has passed. If the ferret is still dry heaving five or six hours after being treated fod hairballs, it must be seen by a veterinarian.

Cats throw up when developing hairballs. Ferrets can not do it, so hair caught in the stomach behaves like a foreign body and either stays there or goes into the intestines and can cause blockage. Ferrets can’t cough up hair like cats, so it becomes a block which must be treated with sugery most of the time.

Treatment: It’s a good idea to regularly brush them during shedding periods to prevent hairballs in your ferret. Vomiting ferrets can be brushed daily for collecting loose hairs much as possible and can be shampooed once or twice a week for the same purpose. They should also be given hairball medications to stimulate their system.

To prevent hairballs, each animal should be get an inch of paste per day during the molting period. There are many available on the market, palatable, laxatives (eg, Doctors Foster & Smith Hairball Remedy, Laxatone) for cats and ferrets. is to help things pass faster – even though it is designed for hairballs – it works just as well on food passing through too quickly.

Especially in the spring, ferrets shed hair very dramatically, so stick with fleece bedding. Ferrets love the feel of fleece, and it helps remove hair from them during shedding season.

These steps reduce the chances that ferrets get hairballs.

Ferrets Vomiting from Allergies & Medications

Anaphylaxis is a sudden and violent allergic reaction to a foreign compound which is present in the body of your pet. Ferrets vomiting often begin within one hour after administration of vaccines in the case of allergic reactions. There are also cases (in the US), of ferrets going into anaphylactic shock and dying after the vaccine was administered.

In the case of vaccines, antibiotics are often added to vaccines as a preservative, which is frequently the offending allergen. Ferrets do not usually have sensitvities to amoxi, but it may be possible that a sensitive stomach (because of the EKG), and then taking amoxi may cause vomiting.

Animals that develop mild first case often go on to develop more serious cases, during subsequent exposure to the allergen. When an animal has been exposed to an allergen for a second time at a later time (even years later), mast cells disintegrate, releasing heparin and histamine.

Animals may receive the same vaccine for many years without any problems but mild symptoms. When the animal has developed an anaphylactic reaction to the vaccine, I no longer suggest a yearly booster shots. Offending vaccines should also never be used on your pet.

Treatment: Fortunately, for the adoption of a vaccine with a low incidence of anaphylaxis is available, Purevax, produced by Merial Pharmaceuticals. A similar product, Fervac-D was then introduced by United vaccines.

When I’m suspicious or just have a vague feeling that reaction may occur during a vaccination, I premedicate my pet with antihistamines 15 minutes prior to vaccination. If there was no reaction, then I give the rest of the vaccine. Then, give the smallest possible amount of vaccine with low doses and observe the pet closely during the next hour.

Inflammation of the pancreas (insulinoma) Causes Vomiting in ferrets

If the ferret is three or more, they might have insulinoma (tumors in the pancreas that produce too much insulin, causing blood sugar to become too low.) Bile often occurs when vomiting is caused by inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis .

Glucose tests at the vet may be able to tell. If they have an empty, glazed look, salivation, disorientation, staggering or seizures, they may be insulino (a glucose test will tell you, it usually takes about 30 $ at the vet).

Tests for pancreatic enzymes (amylase, lipase) are elevated and ferrets usually have an increased kidney and liver function tests, and elevated white blood cells.

Treatment: The first step in the treatment of pancreatitis is to rehydrate ferrets with intravenous fluids, stop vomiting with drugs, and reduce inflammation of the pancreas with corticosteroids. When ferrets throw up due to insulinoma, you should also stop food and oral administration of water for 3-4 days to allow rest for the pancreas.

Toxic poisoning and Vomiting in ferrets

Toxicity often causes ferrets to vomit. Ferrets are commonly poisoned by ingestion of toxins in the environment.

These include plant toxins, toxic heavy metals, and bacterial toxins in spoiled food. Bad food has a chemical similar to xylitol found in the dehydration process of onions, which are also toxic to your pet. Garlic, onion and nuts, yeast, raisins, grapes, chocolate, coffee, alcohol and macadamia nuts are all very poisonous to ferrets and can cause death … or paralysis in the case of macadamia nuts.

Alcoholic beverages: Any type of alcohol can be poisonous to your pet, and ferrets are so small that they get poisoned easily, causing coma and even death.

Chocolate poisoning can cause irregular heart rate and rhythm, anxiety, hyperactivity, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle twitching, trouble breathing, abdominal pain, blood in urine, increased body temperature, convulsions, coma, and even death in ferrets.

Ferrets can also get poisoning from protein. If protein levels are too high, the body tries to excrete excess from the kidneys, and too much protein is toxic to the kidneys. In older animals with declining renal function, toxic substances accumulate in the bloodstream, causing depression, nausea and vomiting.

Treatment: For ferrets who ingested a poisonous substance, where the vomiting can’t expel the toxins, put 1 teaspoon 3% of HP in their mouth. I highly recommend keeping a suspension of milk thistle on hand in case of poisoning as well.

If you keep your cleaning products in the lower cabinet, absolutely make sure that the ferret can not get into the closet, since a ferret may ingest some of these toxic products. Animals rarely consume a sufficient amount of cleaning products to cause toxicity and what they do ingest usually causes vomiting which limits the amount absorbed.

Other Things to Consider:

Appearance of The Throw Up: A good rule is to remember is to examine the look of the vomit – is it food versus bloody chunks or ground coffee appearance? Observe the ferret often and the environment, such as extreme temperature, and note the date of the last vaccination. Diseases which can cause watery rich poop in ferrets are lymphatic bowel disease, coccidiosis, and eosinophilic gastroenteritis ,.

Dehydration from Vomiting: Even if vomiting is from something as simple as an allergy your ferret will get dehyrdated. Older ferrets in particular are more likely to become dehydrated and develop bleeding ulcers in the bowel, so make sure to keep up his electrolytes and fluids. To prevent dehydration, give Ferret mixture of Pedialyte and drinking water (tasteless Pedialyte half and half with water) after the initial attack of diarrhea, vomiting or drink due to the malaise.

Vomiting in ferrets can be life-threatening; Ferrets dehydrate very quickly (because they are so small), and may die. If the ferret stops eating, becomes lethargic and dehydrated, it may be necessary to give fluids either orally or by subcutaneous injection.

Ferrets that are vomiting often become dehydrated and require fluid, which can be administered through a catheter into a vein or subcutaneously (under the skin). with your veterinarian to find out exactly how much fluid mixture you must syringe your ferret with a day to prevent dehydration.

When to See Your Vet: Vomiting in ferrets is not normal, and vomiting for one whole day means that something may be very wrong. Either diarrhea or vomiting in ferrets can be a sign of a significant problem. Diarrhea and vomiting are flags when it comes to ferrets.

Your veterinarian should be contacted if a ferret is vomiting for more than 24 hours or has a sharp decrease in appetite. Sometimes vomiting is the only sign of a tear in the membrane, or more serious problems. If the ferret vomits only once, however, and there are no other symptoms, veterinary may not be required immediately.

Bring up the vomiting to a veterinarian who has been in practice for several years, and mention if it seems to cause pain or discomfort to the ferret. If vomiting continues, however, if he vomits more than once, vomiting lasts longer than one day, he has other symptoms, medical is required.

Chronic Vomiting in ferrets

Chronic vomiting – vomiting lasting from a few days to a few weeks – or vomiting and other symptoms usually requires extensive diagnostic tests.

Because all animals are different, in some way, shape or form, when you talk to an exotic animal veterinarian, see a specialist in ferrets and weasels. Take X-rays, and then decide what to do. Collect the most recent sample of ferret poop in a zipper bag, for testing prior to departure. Because vomiting is related to acute and chronic gastroenteritis bacteria in ferrets, faeces must be cultured for to find out which bacteria is causing the illness.

Obstruction of the intestines and vomiting in ferrets go hand in hand. Vomiting can be caused by several things, hairballs, foreign objects (toys, pieces of rubber, swallowed string) and sometimes tumors – so it’s best to see your vet for a diagnosis when your ferret is throwing up.

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