Anorexia is a very serious condition which causes a ferret to lose its appetite, refuse to eat, and thus lose a dangerous amount of weight. Typically, ferrets lose their desire to eat due to systemic or total body diseases, however, psychological causes are another factor; this is referred to pseudoanorexia.
Regardless of the causes for loss of appetite, the signs and symptoms of ferret anorexia are fairly standard,; they include:
- Weight loss
- Inability or lack of desire to consume food
- Pain while swallowing (Dysphagia)
- Pain while eating (Odynophagia)
- Dental disorders or diseases (e.g., chronic bad breath)
There are many potential causes which can be attributed to anorexia, including infectious diseases associated with the ferret's gastrointestinal system (or gut) and bowel, abdominal swelling or distension, and foreign bodies or masses located within the gut. Other causes for anorexia may fall into the following formal categories:
- Cardiac or heart disease and failure
- Bacterial, viral and infectious diseases
- Gastrointestinal and metabolic diseases (e.g., kidney and liver diseases)
- Psychological problems (e.g., stress or environmental factors)
- Toxic problems (e.g., allergies or ingestion of toxic materials)
- Neurological problems
Diagnostic procedures vary depending upon the symptoms displayed by the ferret and the underlying condition causing the animal's refusal to eat. Some possible procedures may include a dental exam, X-rays or ultrasounds (to rule out cardiac or lung disease), and urine analysis. Examining the history of the animal’s environment and diet is also important, as it may reveal any changes that lead to psuedoanorexia.