Hairballs in Ferrets

PetMD Editorial
   |   
Jul 02, 2008
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Hairballs

Ferrets require very little grooming from owners because they prefer to groom themselves.

Symptoms and Types

Ingested hairballs may cause vomiting, decreased appetite or intestinal obstruction.

Not all ferrets vomit when they ingest hairballs. Some will stop eating or eat less – at least compared to their regular diet – while others will pass thin stool with hair in it, appearing like small amounts of ribbon.

Causes

Ferrets shed twice each year: fall and spring. Because of their preference to self-groom, these are the seasons ferrets most likely encounter hairball problems.

Prevention

To prevent hairballs, it is best you use a soft brush to comb off the ferret's loose hair – there are even vacuum cleaner attachments which can be used for this purpose. You should also bathe your ferret once a week and frequently change its bedding.

Malt-based laxatives are sometimes given once a week during a ferret's shedding period, in order to prevent hairballs. Consult a veterinarian, but about an inch of laxative paste is used per day, and ferrets find this particular type of laxative quite edible.

Some side effects in the lungs can occur when using malt-based laxatives. Therefore, do not undertake this type of treatment without veterinary help.

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