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Ashybean22

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Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 1:40 PM
Our ferret, Pookie, is just over three years old, and for most of his life he has had an absurd cough.  It is very loud and very scary.  We have talked with our vet multiple times about this cough, but with no real conclusion.  His heart and lungs both sound good, so we do our best to keep the ferret bedding clean and keep him from being bothered by dust and fur.  Yesterday, I took Pookie (and Donut our other ferret) for their check up and vaccinations.  During Pookie's first shot, he didn't seem to notice the poke, but he didn't like the medicine going into his little body and he shook, causing the vet to pull the needle out.  Both of the ferrets were a little distressed after their shots, but seemed to be just fine, no signs of allergic reaction.  After a few hours of being home, Pookie's cough started up, only sounding different than before.  It sounds as if something is pushing on his wind pipe so the cough is somewhat muted, but still very loud.  Pookie also had one small vomit probably 6 hours after the vaccine, so I wasn't too nervous about it being a reaction to shot as much as I figured he'd coughed it up.  Pookie coughed all through the night, and has been coughing on and off this morning.  I have given him some ferret tone and ferret lax to try and help if there were something stuck in his pipes, but I'm not sure what else to do.  I am waiting on a return phone call from the vet, but I'm wondering if anyone else has had a coughing ferret?  Did you determine the cause?  And how did you treat it?
 
Thank you for your help!
Snapper13

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 2:03 PM
I have no idea....
 
Do you use a water bottle or a water bowl?  perhaps there is a tickle in his throat and a good slurp of water fomr a bowl will help clear it out.
 
What do you use for bedding?
 
What do you use for litter?
Buffmuffin

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 2:11 PM
Cough sounds like KACK! ??

How persistent is the cough, is it every 5 to 10 minutes, are just once an hour or more?
Ashybean22

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 2:16 PM
They sleep in a hammock usually, with a t-shirt that we wash regularly.  We use Aspen Supreme Pellets for litter.  They drink from a water bottle, but I put a bowl of water in there last night as well.
 
This cough is something he has had most of his life, but over the last 12-15 hours it has been pretty frequent.  Through out the night it was every 15-30 minutes lasting about 10 seconds long.  This morning it's been about once an hour.
 
What is KACK?
Buffmuffin

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 2:18 PM
the sound of the cough, is it more of a sharp KACK!~ like a normal ferret cough, or is there wheezing in it?.. is it strained  or raspy, what does it sound like?
Snapper13

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 2:25 PM
Try changing the aspen pellets to something unscented.  Ferrets have a very strong sense of smell, and what  ay seem like a light mild scent to us, may be like sitting next to the old lady who doused herself in perfume.  One of Wenmister's kids can't handle the scent of pine.

When you wash the t-shirt and hammock, what kind of detergent do you use?  perhaps the scent of that is making him cough, too.

What else do you use as bedding?  There has to be something else in the cage - not just a hammock and t-shirt.  What do you have on the floor of the cage?
Ashybean22

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 3:05 PM
No, it doesn't sound like a kack, it sounds like a metal shovel scraping across concrete, or moving furniture across a wood floor.  Our little girl ferret makes the kack sound every now and then, it's not like what Pookie is making.  It is a very strained cough, he seems very distressed when it happens.  It almost sounds like what I imagine a cat coughing a hairball up would sound like, but he doesn't have a hair ball as far as we know, and we give him the supplemental things to help him pass it if he had one (I know ferret hair balls get stuck in their gut)
 
There is also a couch in the cage, but we don't have any sort of "bedding" through out the cage.  It's one of the 5 story cages, so there have a couple different places to sleep and they have two litter boxes, but we don't put any sort of bedding through out the cage.
 
I use only non-scented detergents because I have sensitive skin.
Buffmuffin

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 3:30 PM
Hmm thats not good, sounds more like a wretch than a cough.

I would look towards something gastric as a cause, rather than bronchial like a cough... hiatal hernia maybe or other perforation of the stomach / esophagus???

You said there was vomit associated with it once, what was the appearance of the ejected matter??
Ashybean22

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 4:17 PM
It just looked like food that had come back up, pretty chewed and mushy.
 
Wouldn't the vet feel something if there was a hernia or the like?  If it was a perforation then he likely wouldn't feel something like that I assume.
Snapper13

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 4:21 PM
I'm still leaning toward cleanliness issues.  How often do you dust and vaccuum? 
Ashybean22

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 4:39 PM
We dust and vaccuum a couple times a week, and the girl ferret doesn't have any of these issues at all.
isushiu

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:17 PM
My brother is allergic to cats, I am not--so just keep that analogy in mind.  Is your ferrets cage near any vents?  I wonder if he is doesn't have allergies....or--and I will put this out there with nothing to really back it up--could he have some sort of growth in his throat?  If I had a growth in my throat, I don't know if the doc could feel it...an Xray might tho.
 
Snapper--didn't you mention once that one of your little dudes had a really bad throat infection? A bacteria that wouldn't go away or something like that? I'm probably way off....

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Ashybean22

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:24 PM
He also now has a sort of a wheeze while he is sleeping, which didn't start until today.  It sounds like he is having a hard time taking in air, kind of like when one of your nostrils is stuffed.
 
It could be allergies, their cage is not next to a vent. 
 
I appreciate all the suggestions and insights, hopefully we can get some idea of what's going on with the little guy.
Buffmuffin

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:46 PM

Wouldn't the vet feel something if there was a hernia or the like?


A hiatal hernia is different than a regular hernia you feel for, it is a perforation in the diaphragm which separates the chest cavity from the bowel, through which the stomach intrudes into the chest. This causes pressure on the lungs, esophagus and stomach. The condition is exacerbated while lying down.

Symptoms are retching, pain, shortness of breath or wheezing and vomiting. If left untreated it can result in ulcers and internal infections.

As the intrusion occurs underneath the rib cage, the only way to look for it is with scans.

As for the allergy bit, I'm leaning away from that, with an allergy i would expect to see sneezing, itching, and coughing.. This isn't what we have here.. This is a prolonged guttural retch lasting for up to 10 mins. sometimes resulting in vomiting.. Please correct me if that assesment is wrong.  Im not familiar with that being a allergy reaction.
<message edited by Buffmuffin on Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:51 PM>
isushiu

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:59 PM
I agree with that Buff, but with the length of time he has been dealing with this, who knows what other ailments may have crept up in the mean time...there could be several things going on.  How do you think the vet would treat a hiatal hernia in a ferret?

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Buffmuffin

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 6:18 PM
In humans it *usually* requires no treatment, a lot of people have it and don't know they have it.. When its severe, it is corrected by surgical stitching of the damaged diaphragm with inclusion of additional surgical material to close the gap where needed.

I imagine the treatment in ferrets would require similar surgical intervention if that was indeed the problem... it seems to fit the bill though, symptom wise. Equally, in all fairness it could be about 50 other things, and like Ish said, a combination of problems that simply happen to present all the same symptoms...

This is really a vet problem, we are only hypothesizing here. I would definitely seek a qualified ferret vet on this one though, preferably one with surgical training, as either the hernia or ulcers can cause digestive fluids to get into places where they don't belong... That in turn, can cause cancer.
kt

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 8:50 PM
Has the vet physically looked in Pookie's throat? One of my late ferrets began coughing as well as snoring, and an inspection turned up a small tumor in the back of his throat that was keeping him from swallowing properly. The vet had to lightly gas him to check -- he was only out for a few minutes at a time, just long enough to take a look down there. Luckily, a low dose of Prednisone kept the growth from getting much larger.
Snapper13

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Thursday, March 26, 2009 8:34 AM
I'm thinking the vomit was a one-time occurrance.  Sometimes mine vomit if they eat too quickly or something.  We watch them and if htey play and seem fine, and don't vomit again - we let it slide.
 
Two of mine also snore - could the wheezing actually be snoring?
 
One of my guys, Sammy, had strep throat.  He was making this terrible raspy sounds when he breathed.  He also had some fluid in his lungs (or something, I can't remember now) that the vet could hear with his stethoscope, so he was put on lasix for a bit to clear out the extra fluid.  The strep throat was treated with baytril, I think.
Ashybean22

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RE: Ferret Cough? - Thursday, March 26, 2009 12:41 PM
I don't think the vet has looked down his throat, at least not at the appointments I have taken the ferrets to, though my fiance takes them half the time. 
 
There has just been the one vomit, but it worried me since it came soon after vaccines and also with this change in cough.
 
The vet called us back yesterday and said if the cough continues to stay bad for the next 5-7 days, then to bring him back in.  He keeps saying "the question is what seems to be causing the cough" though he never seems to try and answer that question, which is frustrating.  We go to an exotic pet clinic, so they know what they are doing in terms of ferrets, but I feel like we're not reaching a solution on this cough, and it's a very worrisome sound.
 
I'm not sure if the wheezing sound is a snore or not, he was not previously a snorer.  Also, he was coughing very consistently until about 3 pm, and then there was a break in the cough for about 5 hours, so that is good.  I think partially it was just the stress of the vet visit, but I'd like to figure out the cause of this cough in general.
 
I'm going to try and upload a recording of the cough, if I can get get the sound from my phone onto the computer.  :)

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