Gastrointestinal Disease (Helicobacter Mustelae) in Ferrets



Unless your ferret is refusing to eat or is vomiting or severely dehydrated, it will be treated on an outpatient basis. Otherwise, fluid therapy and dietary supplements may be used to stabilize the animal. Warming the ferret's food to body temperature or offering it via syringe may increase the likelihood of it eating. Your veterinarian will also recommend a regimen for the dietary supplements and may prescribe medication.


Living and Management


No noninvasive tests are currently available to confirm eradication of gastric Helicobacter. If clinical signs persist or recur after cessation of therapy, your veterinarian will want to pursue other diseases as the cause. In addition, some ferrets with chronic Helicobacter infections are severely debilitated and will not respond to treatment.


The high prevalence of Helicobacter in ferrets raises the possibility that household pets may serve as a reservoir for the trans­mission of Helicobacter to people; however, no cases have been documented.


Some possible complications are hemorrhage and anemia from ulcers, perforation, and recurrence. Most infections are eradicated by using the treatment regimen described above. Recurrence is common, especially under stressful conditions. Repeat therapy may be necessary.




This disease is common where animals are kept in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions. If you keep many animals, be sure to provide them with enough space and a clean environment. Drugs that prevent secretion of gastric fluids are helpful to treat, and possibly prevent, gastri­tis in anorectic ferrets.