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Do ferrets get hairballs? What happens when they do?
Yes! Ferrets can definitely get hairballs, especially during the spring shed season. Hairballs can be very dangerous for ferrets. Ferrets can't vomit up hairballs like cats can, so if they can't pass the hairball in feces, it can get stuck in your ferret's stomach or intestines and form a blockage. Blockages are life threatening conditions that require surgery.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF A HAIRBALL OR BLOCKAGE?

Do you think your ferret may have a hairball blockage? Some of the signs include:

  • Tiny, stringy stool
  • Coughing
  • Sudden loss of appetite and weight
  • Vomiting or dry heaves
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Rubbing face on the carpet
  • Dehydration
  • Bloating
  • Swollen belly that is painful to the touch
WHAT IF THE SYMPTOMS GO AWAY?

Sometimes ferrets will get a floating partial blockage that causes them to exhibit these symptoms only occasionally while other times they are fine. If your ferret starts showing symptoms of a blockage, take him to the veterinarian immediately, even if the symptoms go away! If you aren't already, start giving your ferret a hairball remedy to try and help the hairball through your ferret's system, and keep an eye on your ferret's feces to see if he passes it.

HOW DO I PREVENT HAIRBALLS?

The best way to help prevent hairballs is to give your ferrets a hairball remedy regularly. Once a week is usually fine for most of the year, but during the spring shed, you should give a hairball remedy or a laxative to your ferret at least a few times a week. If your ferret is "blowing" his coat (shedding all of the guard hairs leaving only the soft undercoat), administer the hairball remedy daily.

If you have multiple ferrets but only a few are shedding, you still need to give all of them a hairball remedy. Ferrets groom not only themselves, but their cagemates. So if a non-shedding ferret grooms a shedding ferret, the non-shedding ferret is also at danger of developing hairballs.

To prevent hairballs, you should also wash ferret bedding and vacuum your house frequently. Loose hairs will be lying everywhere, just waiting to stick to your ferret, so keeping the environment clean will help. Brushing your ferret to remove loose hairs also helps.
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