How to Administer Medicine to Your Ferret
Excerpted from PetPlace Veterinarians. Reprinted from the January/February 2002 FAIR Report
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.
Medications, in pill or liquid form, are often prescribed with very careful instructions on how to administer them. Liquid is more common because it is easier to get your ferret to swallow it, compared to pills.
Most liquid medications come with an eyedropper. If the medication does not come with an eyedropper, using an oral syringe will also work.
As a reminder: 1 ml = 1 cc 5 cc = 1 teaspoon 15 cc = 1 tablespoon
- Draw up the prescribed amount of medication in the eyedropper or syringe.
- Some ferrets like the taste of the medication and will take it willingly. For most, ferrets, this is not the case.
- Ferrets can be difficult to restrain. One trick is to gently but firmly grasp your pet by the nape (scruff) of the neck and lift him up. This usually calms the ferret and can even result in yawning. Once your ferret has opened his mouth, slowly administer the medication, allowing time to swallow.
- If that technique doesn’t work, you may have to restrain him. Wrap your ferret snugly in a towel and hold him firmly so the head cannot move. Place the tip of the eyedropper or syringe in the mouth just behind the long canine teeth. Advance the eyedropper until it is between the teeth. Slowly administer the medication and be careful not to give it faster than your ferret can swallow.
- Be prepared for some spitting of the medication. If this occurs, do not re-administer another dose unless you feel the entire dose of the medication has not been given.
- Unless your veterinarian tells you not to, you can often mix the medication into a favorite treat to make it more palatable. [Do not use hairball laxatives to mix with the medications because the laxative will prevent the medication from being absorbed by your ferret’s intestines.]
- If giving more than one medication, find out if they can be given at the same time or if they need to be given at different times to avoid drug interactions. Some medications can also nullify the effects of others.
How to Administer Pills to Your Ferret
Some medications can be hidden in a small amount of food, such as Nutrical, peanut butter or cream cheese, but you must make sure the medication can be taken with food. Some ferret 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 will eat it. [FACT Editor Note: We’ve had good luck using whipped cream.]
- Mix the crushed medication with sugar water, flavored syrup or plain water. [FACT: you can also mix with honey or honey & water.] Now the medication can be given as a liquid by placing it in a syringe or eyedropper.
- If crushing methods do not work, you may need to give the pill as is. Scruff your ferret to induce him to yawn. When he does, pop the pill into his mouth as far back as possible, then gently hold his mouth closed until he swallows. If you do not think you can manually get the pill into the back of your ferret’s mouth, use a pill gun to pop the pill into your ferret’s mouth. The quicker you perform this procedure, the more cooperative your ferret will be.
Always remember to praise your ferret and offer him a treat after taking the medication. This will help make future medicating easier and will let your ferret know that you are not medicating him to punish him.
Editor’s Note: Recently I’ve been having great luck giving liquid Melatonin and Lasix (which is a nasty, alcohol-based diuretic) mixed into about a teaspoon of Ensure. I’m not sure if every ferret will accept it this way or if I’m successful only because Miss Magnolia is a little piggy, but it’s worth a try!