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One of our volunteers finds that closely monitoring a ferrets weight, say once a fortnight, helps them spot early signs of illness and also helps their vet if they visit with any concerns. This applies to all age ferrets. Its another great tool and indicator that can be used to help identify any health problems. This is especially good at picking up the slower gradual conditions that may not be noticed immedietely rather than sudden illnesses that will become obvious within a day or two say during playtime or by checking their faeces.
The weighing itself is simple using a set of kitchen scales with a measuring jug on. Some ferret oil helps keep them occupied and still during the weighing.
If you record the weights fortnightly, the readings soon build up and by plotting a graph, in say a spreadsheet program, you can immedietlty and easily spot trends and abnormalities. This can help indicate early signs of illness.
Below is an example showing a real ferret's weight fluctuating with the seasons. This castrated Hob lives outdoors and as you can see he puts on weight for the winter and then looses weight in the summer.
Looking at the weights over the years you can get a good feel for the normal weight of your ferret. If the trend changes unexpectidly then this can indicate a problem within a few weeks that otherwise may not have been noticed.
Also if you are worried for another reason about your ferret, as well as visiting your vet, you can consult last years weights to see what weight and trend is normal for this time of year.
Below is some real examples of some ferrets who unfortunately became ill but they were having their weights regularly monitored.
Their weight data helped contribute to indicating the problems early on and treatment began earlier as a result.
This example shows unexpected weight gain during the summer that unfortunately turned out to be due to unusual mass tumours that were diagnosed by a vet at the time in a 5 year old Hob, but its proof that the weight gain reflected the problem.
This example illustrates unexpedted weight loss during October 2011. This was a 7 year old Hob who was sadly suffering from back leg failure and was shortly put to sleep.
If a ferret who lives in a group stops eating it may not be obvious for a while, however their weight data will show this immediately.
The first thing your vet will probably do is weigh your ferret. Clearly this method is not a be all and end all in diagnosing problems and many other factors are taken into account, but it can add to the overall picture when you have a concern and your vet will find this data very helpfull indeed.