What is Constipation and Bloody Stool?

Constipation refers to the inability of an animal to defecate, going for long periods between the passing of stools. Bloody stool refers to the presence a noticeable amount of blood in the animal's feces. Whilst there may be no cause for concern in isolated incidents, it can be indicative of a larger health problem if it continues for some time.

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Symptoms of Constipation and Bloody Stool in Ferrets

Fortunately, the symptoms of constipation and bloody stool will eventually become readily apparent to observant owners, giving plenty of opportunity to seek veterinary assistance.

Infrequent Defecation

For most owners, it can be difficult to actually notice if their pet is retaining their feces. The most obvious indicator that something is wrong is that when actually trying to defecate, the ferret will appear to be actively straining. Also, the fecal matter itself may seem somewhat dry in comparison to its normal state (which can be indicative of dehydration).

Abnormal Feces Color 

The ferret will also experience a change in the color of its stools. This is mostly owing to the presence of blood in the digestive system, which can cause the feces to turn somewhat dark in appearance, seeming to look black or even dark green. Further health problems may alter the texture and composition of the feces, such as anemia causing the stool to look unusually pale in the areas not stained by blood.

Abnormal Coat 

Perhaps the most visible sign that the ferret has an underlying health problem is the loss of its coat's usual luster. This is because as the animal experiences digestive difficulties, it will become harder and harder to obtain the proper nutrition it needs in order to maintain its fur. Because of this, the coat's texture and coloration will gradually degrade over time, giving the ferret a noticeably unkempt appearance.

Weight Loss 

The ferret may additionally start to reject food due to its intestines becoming uncomfortably full, or it may continue eating but (for some underlying reason) be unable to extract much nutritional value from the food. Because of this, the animal will begin to lose weight in an amount roughly commensurate with how long the condition has been ongoing. This change can be surprisingly subtle, so it can take a while before owners notice any substantial difference in the ferret's mass.

Dehydration

The animal may start to exhibit the symptoms of dehydration. This means that the ferret may seem fatigued, preferring to stay in one part of the property or its enclosure instead of roaming as normal. It may also appear somewhat disoriented and irritable. Whilst dehydration can be a symptom of constipation (due to the animal being unable to take in fresh liquids from food), it can also be a root cause of the issue. In any case, it is advisable for owners to provide the animal with plenty of fresh water in order to alleviate this problem.

Causes of Constipation and Bloody Stool in Ferrets

The cause of blood appearing in an animal's stool is relatively straightforward, as it is essentially produced by damage to the digestive system. A pet owner can roughly guess where the damage is within the body depending on the color of the feces itself. If the feces appears black or green in coloration, this means that the blood has been digested before entering the intestines, so the bleeding is most likely in the throat or stomach. On the other hand, if the feces contains a visible amount of red blood, this is indicative of damage to the intestines, as the blood has not been digested. Constipation, meanwhile, is most frequently caused by dehydration or an obstruction within the digestive system, but may also be the result of an underlying gastrointestinal condition, infection, or injury.

Diagnosis of Constipation and Bloody Stool in Ferrets

When the ferret arrives at the clinic, the doctor will perform a physical examination to check the ferret's vitals, identify any sensitive areas and manually feel for obstructions. They might also use an endoscopy in order to manually inspect the interior of the stomach or intestines. An ultrasound scan could also be used in order to identify foreign objects within the body. The vet may also have a number of questions for the owner regarding the animal's living environment and daily habits in order to help narrow down the precise cause of the problem. A blood sample may also be required in order to test for more serious conditions.

Treatment of Constipation and Bloody Stool in Ferrets

In order to treat dehydration, the vet will typically start the ferret on fluid therapy, whereby liquid is intravenously supplied to the animal's body. This will quickly counteract the effects of dehydration and hopefully help to get the feces moving out of the body again if the animal is constipated. This may be accompanied by a mild dosage of a laxative in order to induce defecation and shift obstructions out of the body. If there is damage to the digestive system due to the ferret eating a foreign object, then surgical intervention may be required in order to repair any significant wounds and to remove the object itself. If this is the case, it is worth bearing in mind the risks associated with putting small animals under general anesthetic.

Recovery of Constipation and Bloody Stool in Ferrets

If no surgery was necessary to repair the damage and cure the constipation, then the ferret should be back to its old self within a matter of days. However, surgery was required, then the recovery period can last for several weeks, as the animal will require significant time to properly heal. Furthermore, the owner will have to regularly administer medications and regulate the ferret's diet in order to ensure its digestive system recovers optimally. The vet will also want to schedule a series of follow-up appointments in order to keep a close eye on the animal's progress.