If you are fond of petting a ferret at your home, you must know how to prevent ferret hairballs. Because, unlike cats, ferrets lack the reflux ability to cough it up. As a result, it may cause trouble like an intestinal blockage in your ferret.
How to prevent ferret hairballs? To prevent ferret hairballs, it is important to reduce the consumption of hair. During the shedding period, brush your ferret regularly. Add soluble fiber in its diet to maximize the ability to pass the fur. A raw diet also prevents hairballs. You can give your ferret a bit of laxative paste during the shedding period.
Ferrets shed two times a year. They shed to prepare themselves for seasonal weather changes. During the shedding time, the hairs mix with the ferret’s food. These hairs are swallowed with the food. The ferret cannot vomit it back like cats. They clump up in its stomach and form a hairball.
Even a few hairs entrap in the stomach and cannot pass through the intestine. Every single fur swallowed by the ferret adds to the size of the hairball and causes trouble day by day.
How to Prevent Ferret Hairballs
You can take precautions to prevent ferret hairballs in order to keep your pet safe from any problem.
The first and foremost step to prevent the hairball is to keep the ferret’s cage, bedding, and food dishes free of hair. Below are some steps you must follow to keep your ferret and its environment as fur-free as you can:
- Brush the ferret with a soft brush.
- Clean the litter box.
- Sweep the cage with a small broom.
- Vacuum the cage.
- Vacuum its plush toys that can accumulate fur.
- Waste any uneaten food remaining in the food dish and wash it properly.
- Wipe down the cage.
- Wash off the ferret’s washable plush toys.
- Wash all bedding and dry it in the dryer.
Another step to prevent hairball is to give the ferret the laxative paste. These pastes enable hair to glide through the entire digestive system of the ferret. In the shedding season, you can give your ferret ¼ teaspoon every day. You can also give your ferret a little bit of this paste every week or two during the non-shedding season to keep the preventive maintenance.
However, this laxative makes the stool looser. If your ferret gets diarrhea, cut back on the dosing. Additionally, these hairball treatment products often contain many sugars. If your ferret is facing health problems, make sure to visit a vet before giving it any hairball treatment. The sugar may cause dental problems. So brush the teeth of your ferret daily during the shedding period to prevent tooth decay.
You can add soluble fiber to the ferret’s diet. It maximizes the ability of the ferret to pass the fur that it ingests. For this purpose, you can add a small amount of canned pumpkin to the ferret’s diet. Additionally, you can give psyllium powder as an alternative. This is a soluble fiber supplement.
You can improve the passage of ingested fur by feeding your ferret a raw diet. It increases stomach emptying time. So it helps to minimize the hair sitting in the stomach, getting stuck in the stomach folds, and forming hairballs.
Raw eggs also improve the passage of ingested fur. The yolk of a raw egg is a great source of lecithin. It acts as an emulsifier that breaks apart the fat particles. These fat particles get stuck to the hair and cause them to form a hairball. Lecithin not only prevents the formation of a hairball but also minimizes the size of any formed hairball.
The yolks of a raw egg also contain choline that improves gut motility. It also improves and speeds up the passage of ingested hair. Choline is a precursor for acetylcholine that improves gastrointestinal motility.
Hairballs may cause the following problems:
- Stomach and duodenal ulcers
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and pain
- Reduced absorption of nutrients
- Intestinal blockage
- Malnutrition and dehydration
Signs of a hairball or other blockages
You can notice these symptoms of hairballs or any other blockages in your ferret.
- Eating less or not eating at all
- Different looking stool
- Weakness in its hind legs
If you feel any symptoms in your ferret, take it to the vet and be careful about its food to make it hair-free.
To sum it up, the best way to prevent hairballs in ferrets is to keep the ferret’s belongings as fur-free as you can. However, if the ferret develops a small hairball, catch it right away before it becomes larger. Take it immediately to the veterinarian and if he suggests then give your ferret an appropriate dose of Ferret Lax so the hairball can eliminate through the stool.