Ferrets: physical examination and emergency care

image of Ferrets: physical examination and emergency care
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As a basic rule when dealing with smaller exotics, everything should be treated at least as an urgent case, especially if the animal has already been ill for a while. Clinical signs requiring urgent attention are given in Figure 18.1. In all cases, the owner’s perceptions have to be taken into account. While some may need persuading that their ferret is an emergency case, the opposite situation will also occur. In these cases it is unwise to dismiss out of hand the owner’s opinion that it is an emergency; instead the earliest appointment at mutual convenience should be offered. The principles of examination are similar for all species; this chapters will dwell on features unique to ferrets and special considerations that pertain to them. This chapter explains Handling; History and physical examination; Clinical techniques; Emergency support; Hospitalization; and Euthanasia.

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18.2 Ferreter’s transport box. Alternative transport boxes. Note the water/food carrier on the door of the plastic carrier.
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18.3 Towel-wrapping a ferret. (Courtesy of Angela Lennox.)
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18.4 Handling. Never reach into a box to catch a ferret. Allow its natural curiosity to bring it out, then grasp it around the shoulders from above. Ferret grasped around the shoulders. If allowed to dangle, ferrets appear to relax and allow many procedures – in this case bathing. Scruffing a ferret.
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18.8 Careful examination of the teeth in an older ferret.
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18.9 Normal foot and claws of an albino ferret.
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18.10 Subcutaneous injection techniques: with the ferret restrained on the table. with the ferret restrained dangling from the scruff.
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18.11 Intraperitoneal injection technique, using the line of the hind leg to guide the needle into the caudal abdomen. Negative pressure should be applied to the syringe before injecting (in case the needle has been placed into a viscus).
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18.12 Dissection showing position of left and right jugular veins. In the live anaesthetized ferret, the jugular vein can be seen as it is raised.
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18.13 Anaesthetized ferret positioned for cranial vena cava puncture. The needle is inserted at 45 degrees into the left thoracic inlet, aiming at the opposite hind leg. As the needle is advanced negative pressure is applied until blood is aspirated. Dissection showing the entry of the needle into the thoracic inlet and into the cranial vena cava.
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18.14 Note the position of the cephalic vein in this dissection: it lies just medial to the dorsal midline of the leg.
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18.15 Dissection showing the passage of the lateral saphenous vein proximal to the tarsus. In the live animal the vein is readily seen under the clipped skin.
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18.16 Positioning of an intraosseous needle.
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18.17 Ferret penis. Note the J-shaped end.
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18.18 Taking ferret blood pressure using an 8 MHz Doppler and miniature cuff. Note the intravenous drip secured in the cephalic vein of the other front leg. (Courtesy of Angela Lennox.)
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