What are Intestinal Coccidia Parasites?

This parasite can also infect dogs and cats, but it does not affect humans. Ferrets can develop this infection after coming into contact with infected fecal matter from other animals. They will soon begin to have diarrhea, and experience lethargy, weight loss, and loss of appetite as a result of the infection. Symptoms will vary depending on the life cycle stage of the parasites that have infected your ferret.

If your ferret is exhibiting symptoms of coccidia, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Luckily, this infection is easily treatable, but it may lead to complications such as dehydration or a prolapsed rectum that will require immediate treatment.

There are many different types of intestinal parasites that affect ferrets. One of the most common intestinal infections is from coccidia, which is caused by either the eimeria or isospora coccidian intestinal parasite. Although any ferret can be infected with coccidia, it’s much more common in young ferrets, who usually become infected at the pet shop or while still at the breeder. Adult ferrets are often immune to coccidia.

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Symptoms of Intestinal Coccidia Parasites in Ferrets

The symptoms of intestinal parasites in ferrets vary depending on the stage of the parasite’s life cycle. However, there are some symptoms that should be present in your ferret regardless of the stage of the parasite’s life cycle. These symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Rectal prolapse

Causes of Intestinal Coccidia Parasites in Ferrets

Coccidiosis is an intestinal infection commonly caused by either the eimeria or isospora coccidian intestinal parasite. Ferrets typically develop this infection if they come into contact with animal fecal matter that contains the parasites. It’s also possible to contract these intestinal parasites by inhaling contaminated airborne particles.

Diagnosis of Intestinal Coccidia Parasites in Ferrets

If your ferret begins to exhibit the signs of intestinal parasites, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible for treatment. Explain the symptoms you have observed to your vet in great detail. Be sure to mention when the symptoms first began, and let your vet know if your ferret often comes into contact with other animals.

The vet will take a sample of your ferret’s stool to test it for parasites. If your ferret has intestinal parasites, the vet should be able to spot coccidia oocysts, which are eggs, in his stool. A positive stool sample will confirm that your ferret needs to be treated for coccidia.

The vet should also take a complete blood count, urinalysis, and blood chemistry profile test to look at your ferret’s overall health. This will help the vet determine whether your ferret has an electrolyte imbalance, which is a sign of dehydration. This is a common side effect of coccidia due to diarrhea.

Treatment of Intestinal Coccidia Parasites in Ferrets

If your vet is able to confirm that your ferret has intestinal parasites, treatment will begin right away. If your ferret is dehydrated because of the diarrhea, the vet will provide him with intravenous fluids to stabilize his condition.

The vet will prescribe medication to treat the parasites, and may also prescribe antibiotics if he believes an infection has or will develop as a result of the infection. Most antiparasitic medication is given for 10 days straight to eliminate the parasites from your ferret’s intestines. After all of the medication has been administered, the vet will ask you to bring your ferret back to the office so he can retest his stool. Further treatment may be needed if parasites are still present after your ferret has been given all of his medication. 

Some ferrets develop a prolapsed rectum as a result of the intestinal parasites, which means the lining of the rectum comes out of the ferret’s anus. If your ferret has this problem, the vet may either suggest that you wait for it to resolve on its own, or he may try to gently push it back into place. He can also prescribe topical creams to treat hemorrhoids that your ferret may have developed as a result of the intestinal parasites.

Recovery of Intestinal Coccidia Parasites in Ferrets

Your ferret will most likely make a full recovery within 10 days of treatment if you administer all of the medication as advised by the vet. However, there is chance that the parasites will still be present in your ferret’s body after 10 days, which is why it’s important that you bring your ferret in for a follow-up visit.

Be sure to clean your ferret’s anus and litter box thoroughly while he is recovering from the infection. If you don’t, it’s possible he could come into contact with parasites in his fecal matter and become infected once again. You should also make sure your ferret does not come into contact with any animals that have been infected.