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How to Administer Pill Medication to Your Ferret

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Giving a pet prescribed medication can be a scary, even bewildering prospect. You can't explain why the medicine is important; all your ferret knows is that you're trying to make him swallow something he doesn't like.

Administering pills to your ferret can be especially tough. But with practice, giving pill form medications can be quick and easy.

Some medications can be hidden in a small amount of food, such as Nutrical, peanut butter or cream cheese, but you must make sure that your ferret swallows the medication and that the medication can be taken with food. Some ferrets will eat the food and spit out the pill. If hiding the pill in food is not working, try the following.

  • Obtain a pill crusher (available at most pharmacies) and crush the pill. Mix this powder into a treat such as Nutrical and see if the ferret eat it.

  • Another way to give crushed medication is to mix it with sugar water or plain water. Now the medication can be given as a liquid. Place the medication in an oral syringe or eye dropper. Wrap the ferret in a towel and carefully place the tip of the syringe or eye dropper inside the mouth. Slowly give the medication. Or, gently grasp the scruff at the nape of the neck and suspend the ferret off the ground. This tends to calm the ferret and can result in yawning. Once the mouth is open, slowly administer the liquid medication.

  • If crushing methods do not work, you may need to give the pill as is. Snugly wrap the ferret in a towel so that only the head is showing. Firmly grasp your ferret's head using your non-dominant hand. If you are right-handed, use your left hand. Grasp on top of the head, just on top of the ears with the thumb on one side of the face and the fingers on the other. Avoid holding the lower jaw and do not hold it so tight that it is uncomfortable or the ferret cannot swallow. You may need someone to help hold the ferret still.

  • Once his head is held in place, raise the nose to point toward the ceiling. The mouth should then open.

  • Use your other hand to administer the pill. Place the pill between your thumb and forefinger. Use your little finger, ring finger or middle finger to lower the jaw by applying pressure to the teeth between the lower canine teeth.

  • After the mouth is fully open, place the pill as far back in the mouth as possible. Avoid placing your hand too far into your ferret's mouth. You may stimulate the "gag reflex" and this will make the experience unpleasant and make future medication administration attempts more difficult. Many people do not have fingers small enough to place in their ferret's mouths. In this situation, try to toss the pill as far back in the mouth as possible or obtain a pill gun, which will help place the pill in the back of the throat.

  • Close your ferret's mouth and hold it closed. Gently and briefly rub your ferret's nose. This should stimulate him to lick his nose, which results in swallowing.

  • The quicker you perform this procedure, the more cooperative your ferret will be.

    Always remember to praise your ferret and maybe offer a treat after receiving medication. This will help make future medicine times easier.

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