Constipation and Blood in Stool in Ferrets

PetMD Editorial
June 05, 2010
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Dyschezia and Hematochezia in Ferrets

Dyschezia and hematochezia are diseases of the digestive and intestinal system that may result in inflammation and/or irritation of the rectum and anus, which in turn results in painful or difficult defecation. Ferrets with hematochezia can sometimes display bright red blood in the fecal matter, while those with dyschezia can also be affected by a concurrent disease affecting the color or gastrointestinal tract.

Symptoms and Types

The signs and symptoms of dyschezia and hematochezia in ferrets are not hard to spot and typically include blood in the stools and extreme pain when defecating, which is evidenced by the crying out or noises made during bowel movements. Some ferrets may even try to avoid bowel movements, which can lead to more severe issues. Other typical signs of dyschezia and hematochezia include muscle tremors, intense abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, incomplete defecation, and enlarged lymph nodes.

Causes

Typically, various gastrointestinal diseases or chronic diseases affecting the colon can cause inflammation of the rectum or anus, which in turn can lead to painful defecation and bleeding of the colon. Dyschezia and hematochezia may also be due to coccidiosis (especially in younger ferrets), infection with other organisms such as bacteria, and trauma to the colon or intestines.

Diagnosis

A veterinarian will want to rule out other causes for blood in stool and pain during defecation such as urinary tract infections, tumors, cystic diseases and bacterial infections. If your ferret has dyschezia or hemaotchezia, laboratory tests may reveal abnormally high levels of protein in the urine as well as confirm chronic diarrhea, inflammatory infectious diseases, floating fecal matter, prostate diseases, and cysts in the genital tract.

Treatment

Most ferrets with dyschezia and hematochezia may be treated on an outpatient basis unless the underlying condition is severe enough to require supportive care. For example, dehydration or internal bleeding will need to be brought under control before further treatment can be undertaken.

Rectoanal diseases, such as hernias of the perineum (the space between the genital and the anus) or rectoanal polyps, may require surgical correction. Your veterinarian may also prescribe antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and/or laxatives, depending on the underlying cause of the disease.

Living and Management

The long-term outcome is good with proper and early treatment and care. Follow-up treatment is necessary to ensure a good long-term outcome. In addition, veterinarians can identify ferrets most at risk for the disease -- such as those living in high stress environments, those exposed to poor hygienic conditions, and those with concurrent conditions like colonic diseases or diseases affecting the colon and gastrointestinal tract -- and advise you how to manage your ferret's living conditions.