Diseases of the Digestive System

Chapter 15 Diseases of the Digestive System


Digestive system disease in the ferret parallels those of the dog and cat. Dental diseases, diarrheas (infectious), gastrointestinal (GI) foreign bodies, neoplasia, and rectal disease are common occurrences in pet ferrets.

Enteritis and Diarrhea

Most cases of enteritis and diarrhea can be related to bacterial or viral infections in the ferret. Salmonella, Mycobacteria, Campylobacter, rotavirus, canine distemper virus, and human flu virus may all be causes of diarrhea in the ferret. Epizootic catarrhal enteritis, a highly transmissible disease, is more common in older ferrets exposed to new or young ferrets that may be asymptomatic carriers. Inflammatory bowel disease does occur with some frequency in pet ferrets. Although the exact cause is unknown, it may be related to a hyperimmune response to dietary components.

Wasting Disease in Ferrets

Helicobacter mustelae, proliferative bowel disease (PBD), and eosinophilic gastroenteritis can all cause diarrhea and wasting in ferrets. Most ferrets are exposed to H. mustelae as kits, becoming persistently infected but asymptomatic until later. Infection may result in mucous gland depletion in the stomach, followed by gastric ulceration or chronic gastritis. Stress is usually the underlying cause for development of clinical symptoms. PBD is caused by the bacteria Lawsonia intracellularis. Infection usually results in segments of the intestine becoming thickened by cellular infiltration of the intestinal wall. This disease, primarily transmitted by the fecal-oral route, is most common in young, fast-growing juveniles; stress also plays a role in development of clinical symptoms.


Digestive disturbances are frequent occurrences in rodents. Overgrowth of incisors is a common problem in rats, whereas enteritis/diarrhea is seen more commonly in gerbils and hamsters.

Aug 31, 2016 | Posted by in GENERAL | Comments Off on Diseases of the Digestive System

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