Our girl is 6 years old now and has insulinoma. Her behavior has been changing a bit over the past month or so. She doesn't really seem to want to eat her food by herself (we can leave a plate of food out all night but she won't touch it, even when it's brand new and fresh) but she will eat it if we hand feed her (sometimes we just have to be a little forceful to get her to have one piece and then she will eat from our hands voluntarily, but we have to do this to make sure she is eating regularly). She will also eat soup voluntarily.
Anyways, since this has been happening, she really doesn't want bone anymore so I imagine that we should start adding egg shells to her soup again like we did when we first started feeding raw. Is this recommended? How much should she get per day?
Do you have any suggestions for trying to get her to eat by herself again... I'm wondering if she just has gotten so used to us hand feeding her that now she doesn't think she should eat by herself or something strange like that?
Hi there, I have to admit I completely empathize with you right now. My Loki is doing the same thing, often only eats when I feed him. We do not recommend egg shells as a long term bone replacement. You can source out human grade bonemeal on amazon or at a local health food store if this needs to be a thing for her. As far as getting her to eat on her own again, you can try sprinkling some salmon oil on top to entice her when you are not around or sleeping but I have to admit this is not working for me and I am at a point where I have enlisted my kids and husbands help in offering food to him every couple of hours throughout the day. Yes ferrets can get spoiled and fussy once they have been hand fed and become little primadonnas about it but usually leaving something like salmon oil on the top as an incentive does the trick to get them to eat on their own again.
Unfortunately, egg shells are not a long term solution, they simply do not possess all the micronutrients found in bone. And the soup isn't really a long-term feeding solution either, even though it's great for switches and sick ferrets. Are you guys giving only a single protein soup?
Is it possible that she might have an ulcer in her mouth or a tooth that is giving her troubles when it comes to eating bones? As for eating other things after you guys have started her with them, it could be that she's become spoiled by it. Athena used to be like that for a long while after I switched her, I'd have to dab her food against her mouth at least once before she'd begin eating, every single meal.
Have you guys considered maybe getting her onto a balanced commercial grind or rehydrated FDR instead? That should provide her with the bone nutrition she needs, it won't do anything for cleaning her teeth, but she should be able to get the nutrients her body needs.
Before resorting to that, I'd see if she won't accept trying her normal menu with an incentive on. You could use a little raw egg, salmon oil, crumbled treat, or even a little water just to make it a little slimey so she'd want to lick at it.
Thank you both for your advice. As a result of your posts I decided to take her to the vet and see if something was bothering her inside her mouth and the vet said that he doesn't see anything that seems to be a problem.
Unfortunately the problem has gotten worse as she will barely eat her soup now and it is a big struggle. Even with olive oil and/or water (both of which are incentives that we often have used in the past and worked). Soup was something she usually loved now I'm basically trying to shove it into her mouth.
It is just a chicken soup.
I imagine she must be so hungry because she usually eats much more. She still has lots of energy though. Was up for about 3-4 hours total yesterday and today (each day), which is either the same or more than usual.
Last week she would have easily taken meat off my finger at least. Now when I give it to her she seems to almost accidentally bite my finger which is new. She only does it lightly but it's as if maybe (and I'm just speculating here) she can't smell it, or see it or something? Or maybe she doesn't want the meat to touch her front teeth so she tries to get it as far back as she can and then accidentally gets my finger in her mouth too.
She does carry her rubber ball up the stairs though still which would be hard on her front teeth if that is the problem.
I'm really not sure what to do now!
She is getting older.. does this sound like anything a ferret may do when they are coming close to the end of their life? Her activity level doesn't make her seem like this is coming super soon.. she's still very curious and fairly active.
Wait a second, her rubber ball? Ferrets should never have any rubber near them, rubber is one of the biggest culprits in a ferret getting a blockage. And even ferrets who aren't known for chewing can get into a fatal situation with an item like this, all it takes is one time. This is a very dangerous item, and it would be best if you removed it, for the sake of your little one's safety.
That said, it gets me wondering, has she done any damage to that ball, maybe chewed some small pieces off? Have you been checking her poops, anything funny happening in there or any straining to poop? Other than her not being eager to eat, has she been drinking normally? Just trying to rule out the likelihood of a blockage being a possibility.
I'm also going to tag some of the admins who have more experience with older ferrets and could help offer advice. katt, Sherry, Heather
First- ditch the rubber. I know they love it, but it really needs to be a supervision only toy for the reasons Linda mentioned. Secondly what is her bg at? How often is she getting food into her? Also, adrenal is a very real possibility and can trigger this type of behaviour as well.
Ferrets: Contessa Kitties: Watson, Oskar DIP Sinnead, Vincent, Boris, Zeus and Athena, Willow, Mr. Frodo, Indie, Lucrezia, Judge, Odin, Miss Emily, Suki, Cody, Aristotle, Butterscotch, Frankenfurter. RIP Herne, Ligeia, and Mr. Stubbs
Everything that Linda and Sherry said, plus it is not uncommon for ferrets with insuloma to have have upset tummies. Talk to your vet about possibly starting her on some pepcid to help with this. I really hope this is all it is but a blockage needs to be ruled our for sure because of rubber.
Water should have a neutral ph balance so often animals will drink even with an upset stomach. Sometimes they will even drink more to try to satiate the hunger they are feeling from not eating. It is def not going to hurt to talk to your vet about it.
I would be very tempted to check a couple of things. As she's got insulinoma, have you considered that she may be adrenal (these often go hand in hand and at one time was thought to never be present without each other). The other thing is both diseases are notorious for creating ulcers. Adrenal it is the nature of the illness, in insulinoma it's the nature of the medical intervention, prednisolone. Methods can be used to try and not allow the pred to cause ulcers, sucralfate/carafate (a stomach coating med) or you can always feed before giving meds. Sometimes even following these instructions, ulcers can occur. I would be very tempted to follow an ulcer protocol to see if this is indeed the case. Her symptoms are very similar ciao