Stomach Issues in Ferrets

Gastrointestinal Foreign Bodies in Ferrets

Gastrointestinal foreign body is a term that refers to any material, other than food, that is eaten by your ferret and results in serious digestive problems. Foreign bodies can become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract creating an obstruction in the stomach or intestines. This results in loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Foreign bodies often require surgery.

Foreign bodies are often made of rubber and can include pieces chewed from a sneaker or pencil eraser, rubber or vinyl “squeak” toy or the foam backing to carpeting or upholstered furniture. Some ferrets develop large hairballs, or furballs, in the stomach from grooming, and these can also act as barriers to digestion. Any household object chewed on by your ferret can become a foreign body problem.

All ferrets are susceptible to developing foreign body problems, but this is most commonly seen in young ferrets less than two years of age. These youngsters are naturally curious; they like to dig and chew and burrow and are more likely to chew on the wrong thing. Hairballs can also form at any age but, because it takes some time for the fur to accumulate in the stomach, this is more likely to be a problem in ferrets over three years of age.

Although some smaller foreign bodies can pass through the gut without getting stuck, the larger pieces can result in serious gastrointestinal complications.

What to Watch For