Bacitracin and Ferrets
Bacitracin (First Aid Ointment) Health Alert
By L. Vanessa Gruden in Paw Printz, July – August, 2001
FACT recently saw a tragic end for a new Foster ferret. Moved into a Foster home, he was under stress and having difficulty integrating with the family’s existing ferrets. We believe he may not have been eating well, also, either due to the stress or due to the effects of ECE.
The Foster ferret had a small scrape on his back end, and the caretaker put Bacitracin ointment on it to promote healing. Bacitracin is poisonous if ingested, and the little guy died as a result.
We only discovered this after some research and investigation. While medical sites on the internet list many symptoms of allergic reaction to overuse of Bacitracin, it took a little more searching to discover that some sites went further and warned that if this common ointment was ingested, a Poison Control Center should be contacted immediately. After checking out the labels on a package of this product, we found that the label does clearly state that Bacitracin should not be eaten and if it is, medical attention should be sought out.
Bacitracin is not only a product name, but an ingredient in many other over-the-counter first aid ointments. It is so commonly used in many households and so innocuous-seeming, many people would not think twice about putting on their animal. And while a very healthy ferret might have only become ill, in this case it was fatal.
ALL PETS WILL LICK OFF ANY PRODUCT PUT ON THEIR SKIN.
Please! Read ALL labels carefully before using ANY product on your pets! You can assume that any product that is unsafe for human ingestion is unsafe for your pets, too. Many other products that may be perfectly safe for humans will be deadly to animals—aspirin is a good example. If your vet recommends using a human over-the-counter product for a specific illness, try to obtain an infant formula if at all possible. Human infants also stick everything into their mouths and infant products will at least be safer.
Let this sad end for our little friend not be in vain, at least, and be very, very careful about any medicine you use on your ferret. Their life may be at stake.