Anorexia is a term used to describe the situation where a ferret does not want to eat or is physically unable to eat. There are many causes of anorexia. Often, a loss of appetite is the first indication of illness. Diseases of the digestive system - including the esophagus, stomach, intestine, liver, pancreas - the kidneys, the blood, the eyes, mouth, nose, and throat, the skin, the brain, and many other organs in the body can cause a loss of appetite. Pain of any cause can also make a ferret less willing to eat.
Alternatively, some animals occasionally refuse food for reasons that are much less serious, such as dislike for a new food or behavioral reasons such as a new home, new animal or new person in the household.
Regardless of cause, loss of appetite can have a serious impact on your ferret's health if it lasts 24 hours or more. Very young animals (less than 6 months of age) are particularly prone to the problems brought on by loss of appetite.
Because of the numerous causes of anorexia, certain procedures are necessary to pinpoint the underlying problem. These are determined by your veterinarian and may include:
Treatments are of two kinds: specific and supportive.
Note whether any recent change has occurred in the home environment, such as a recent move to a new home, new person or new animal in the home. These may contribute to the loss of appetite and should be mentioned to your veterinarian.
Note whether any other symptoms are present. The presence of symptoms in addition to loss of appetite should prompt a veterinary examination.
To combat dehydration, some ferrets can benefit from being given oral rehydration supplements such as infant electrolyte solutions like Pedialyte. Ask your veterinarian whether this is appropriate and how much should be given.
The following suggestions are methods for providing relief and helping recovery in a ferret with loss of appetite. They are not meant to be substitutes for a good veterinary examination: