Gastritis in Ferrets
Gastritis refers to inflammation of the “gastric mucosa” or the membrane that lines the stomach in ferrets. This inflammation can lead to erosions of the stomach lining that can cause pain and and irritation. In addition to the stomach, the esophagus and other parts of the gastrointestinal system may be affected by this disease
Symptoms and Types
Depending on the type and severity of the gastritis (acute or chronic), there are various symptoms that may occur. Some of the most common ones include:
- Weight loss
- Black, tarry stools
- Green-stained vomit (from bile from the gallbladder) containing undigested food, flecks of blood, and/or digested blood with a “coffee ground” appearance
The causes for gastritis in ferrets are also varied. Environmental stressors, toxins, chemical irritants, chronic liver diseases, and viral infections such as from distemper, are some of the more typical causes. Foreign objects, which are accidentally ingested, can also damage the stomach lining and cause gastritis.
Your veterinarian will want to first rule out causes of accompanying symptoms and underlying disorders or diseases. These may include ruling out kidney disease, gastrointestinal nausea associated with lymphoma, and perhaps lower intestinal disease.
He or she may also order several laboratory tests, such as a urinalysis and serum blood tests, to confirm dehydration, the presence of systemic diseases, and ascertain the levels of enzymes in the liver, which can help confirm the severity of the disease. X-rays and other imaging studies, meanwhile, can confirm the thickening or damage to the intestinal or abdominal wall. In addition, the lymph nodes of ferrets with gastritis are examined for swelling or damage.
Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the gastritis and the extend of damage to the gastrointestinal tract. Many ferrets will not have to be hospitalized unless they are experience severe vomiting and require immediate fluid therapy, or require surgery to remove a foreign object from the abdomen of digestive tract.
Antibiotics are often used to control ulcers, especially when the bacteria H. Pylori is involved. Nausea and vomiting, meanwhile, may be alleviated with other types of prescription medication. And for extreme weight loss associated with severe gastritis, a high-caloric diet may help.
Living and Management
Once home, it is important you monitor your ferret's condition and follow the veterinarian's dietary recommendations. He or she may request that you bring the animal in for regular follow-up examination to ensure an uncomplicated recovery.