Black tarry stools can be a sign of internal bleeding, and blood in the poops signals this. IMMEDIATE attention is required, go to a Veterinarian.
Ferrets are susceptible to diseases just like other animals, this is a list of some of the most common ones and the symptoms. Early treatment in any disease or sickness will bring the best results for your pet. Some of these are less costly when detected early. Yearly checkups along with vaccinations and continuing health records and blood tests will give the veterinarian a clear indication if something is going wrong.
Some ferrets have reactions to rabies and distemper vaccinations. Plan to stay at the doctors office at least one hour after the vaccinations are given. Describe the type of reaction your ferret has had in the past and be prepared by taking the steps your veterinarian suggests to prevent it from happening again. Have these vaccinations administered first then at least a part of the time will be taken up by the examination. Ask questions as he's examining your pet. If you are uncomfortable with your vet or he doesn't like answering your questions, find another vet. You wouldn't tolerate this sort of behavior from a medical doctor so don't accept it from a Veterinarian.
One of the first signs of Adrenal disease is hair loss on the tail and on the lower, rear part of their hind legs. This is followed by a gradual thinning of the coat across the shoulders and then throughout the rest of the body. The hair loss may start at the tip or the base of their tail with a general pattern going up the body. They will have a noticeable increase in water intake and urination. Weight loss and itching are other signs. Females may develop an enlarged vulva. Look for red flaky alligator type skin and sometimes blackheads on the tail. If left untreated the ferret will become bald, and die.
The earlier this disease is diagnosed the better off for your ferret and his chance of survival. This can be diagnosed by a fasting blood sugar test, in many cases when the symptoms are not all there. The signs of this are lethargic, acting depressed, rear leg weakness, staring into nothing almost trance like, gagging or pawing at the mouth. Sometimes the only warning will be a seizure or passing out. Rub Karo syrup, honey or some other sugar concentrate on their gums and immediately get them to the VETERINARIAN.
Even if your ferret is older, he should be energetic to some degree and not lethargic. He should have a normal attention span and show interest in new things and not act as if he doesn't care.
On all visits to the veterinarian, he should listen to your ferrets heart. Sometimes heart disease can be picked up through normal routine check ups. The symptoms could be a fast weight gain, most of which seems to be in the abdominal area. This extra weight is actually fluid retention. Other symptoms are panting after exercise, abnormal breathing, and a cough that sounds fluidy. The ferret may sleep a lot and not really want to play, or in the middle of play will lay down as if exhausted. If you notice these symptoms, have your ferret checked out by his vet. Just remember, the earlier this is treated, the better the chance your ferret will have for a longer, healthier life.
While playing with your ferret always check his body. Run your hands over the length of his body, down the tail and under his legs. Look for lumps, bumps, and swellings. This is a very hard disease for owners to diagnose. But if you have your vet show you where the lymph glands are and the spleen and learn to check them, it will be another thing you can do to help your pet.
The ferret takes to chemotherapy very well, and the sooner a cancer is found the better your pet will respond to treatment. Biopsies must be taken of the tissues or fluids, there is no way by looking that a cancer can be correctly diagnosed.
As I said earlier I am not medically trained, just an enthusiastic ferret owner. I have used my own "people words" as I call them, just to give you a quick understanding. We have wonderful medical information links here if you want to use them. They will give you a much more precise description then I have. So if you see something here that sets off a bell in your head, sounds familiar to something that is going on with your fur baby please look it up further, and seek proper medical help. We have a list of shelters and beside the shelters you'll find a list of the vets they use. Perhaps this might help you out, it's quite large. We also are linked to a list of personally recommended veterinarians, and emergency care.
Our only goal here is to help you and your ferret, so you can both enjoy one another for many years. There are new findings all the time in the medical world for treatment of things that were untreatable a few short years ago. If you can subscribe to one of the ferret magazines, the addresses on the resource page, this will keep you up to date. If you see anything here that you feel is erroneous, please point it out to us and we will change it. If you would like to suggest us adding something we have an e-mail for you to use on the front page.