Bacterial Diarrhea in Ferrets


PetMD Editorial

Published Sep. 29, 2008


Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial infection that results in acute and intense diarrhea and other gastrointestinal conditions in animals. Young ferrets or ferrets with compromised immune systems are more prone to the bacteria. Fortunately, it is a disease that can be treated with fluid therapy and antibiotics.


The primary symptom of campylobacteriosis is diarrhea, which can be either watery, bloody or streaked with mucous. The bacterial infection may also lead to other digestive complications such as the incomplete emptying of the ferret's bowel, resulting in fecal buildup and constipation. Campylobacteriosis can also cause:

  • Fever
  • Inability to eat
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss


Campylobacteriosis is due to an infection with the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni, which thrives in unhygienic and poorly sanitized areas.



After ruling out other causes for diarrhea, such as parasitic and viral infections, your veterinarian will conduct a complete blood count and tests to examine the ferret's electrolyte, sodium and potassium levels. Stool samples from the animal will then be taken to the laboratory for cultures and to confirm the bacteria's presence in the ferret.



Your veterinarian may recommend treatment on an outpatient basis if the ferret only has a mild case of diarrhea. This will include providing fluids for the ferret, along with an antibiotic regimen to eliminate the bacteria. However, if the ferret's diarrhea is severe, it will require fluid replacement therapy -- usually given intravenously -- and anti-diarrhea medications, in addition to any prescribed antibiotic drugs.

Living and Management

Bringing the ferret into the veterinarian for follow-up monitoring and testing will ensure reinfections are immediately identified and treated.


Because the bacteria which causes campylobacteriosis thrives in poorly sanitized, unhygienic living conditions, keeping your ferret's kennel clean and stool-free will help prevent the animal from contracting the disease.

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