Ferrets - Gastric Ulcers
Gastric ulcers (stomach ulcers) due to an infection by the bacteria Helicobacter mustelae are relatively common in ferrets. This bacteria is closely related to the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers in people. Ferrets typically have poor appetites with this condition and may grind their teeth in pain. Some dehydrate quickly as they are reluctant to drink. Ferrets may vomit due to gastritis but this is not a consistent sign. If it vomits blood, that is a very serious sign and emergency care is needed. Once an ulcer has formed in the stomach, the blood from this ulcer is digested in the intestine and is passed from the body as a very black and pastey to watery stool known as "melena". This is also sometimes referred to as tar or tarry diarrhea. If you notice this sort of stool, you need to get your pet to us or another vet as quickly as possible.
Helicobacter infections can be treated with specific antibiotics, antacids, and stomach protectants. Supportive care with liquid assist feeding diets (Oxbow's Carnivore Care or Emeraid Carnivore Diet) are often necessary during the recovery process. Hospitalization and intravenous or subcutaneous fluids may be needed for severly dehydrated and ill animals, and some end up hospitalized for several days. If allowed to become very advanced prior to treatment, some may die despite treatment due to severe internal bleeding and or blood loss.