Monday, March 31, 2008

Pilling a Ferret

It seems like we've found a solution for how to pill the Dude. Well, it's not technically a solution; technically it's a suspension, but it solved our problem, so it's both.

Pill Pockets didn't work for Dude -- he didn't have any interest in them, so there was no point sneaking a pill into one. On the other hand, we've come up with a strategy that gets most of the medicine in him and has only gotten us peed on once. (And by us, I mean Kathy. Phew.)

First, we grind the half-pill up with a mortar and pestle. We had one already, so we figured it was worth a shot. This reduces the pill into a much finer powder than crushing it between two spoons.

Originally the plan was to put it into a syringe with the Vivify vitamin supplement he was already taking, but it wasn't possible to get it into the syringe after the Vivify was inside, and we didn't want to contaminate the Vivify supply. So instead, I dumped the pill powder onto a spoon (inderectly; I use my finger to scrape the powder from the mortar onto a folded piece of paper, which I then tilt and pour into the spoon). Then I squirted the measured amount of Vivify onto the powder, stirring it around with the edge of the syringe.

Then I scruff the dude and give him his medicine. First comes a syringe dose of his prednisone, which he doesn't like but goes down quick. Then there's this pill/Vivify mix. I put some on my finger and rub it against his teeth and gums. He instinctively licks at it (and then makes a bleah! bleah! sound). I repeat this until the mix is done. He never likes it, but he can't help himself from licking it, either. So it seems like some of the medicine is getting in him. At any rate, more is getting in him than with our other futile efforts, and while he hates it, he's a lot less stressed out by the process than the other things we've tried.

Anyway, I write about this in such detail not for the regular readers of my blog, but because I did a lot of online searching for alternate methods of pilling a ferret, and didn't find much. So hopefully this will give someone in our situation another method to try. It's not perfect, but its the best one we've found.

It helps that afterward, we get to give him a medicine that he really likes. A spoonful of sugar, and all that.

UPDATE: Later on, we found a better way of getting the pill/Vivify mix into the Dude that we were all much happier with. I was able to draw the mixture from the spoon into a syringe with a wider nozzle. Then I could scruff him and give it to him usually in one squeeze, sometimes two. He still hated it, but it went down much quicker that way.



Sharon GR said...

You will now be surprised at the number of people who will come to your blog using the search engine phrase, "alternate methods of pilling a ferret".

Having ancient, sickly cats, I feel your pain. Good luck with whatever works.

Rob S. said...

Actually, I'm kind of hoping for that. I didn't have much luck finding anything specific when I was looking for pilling techniques, so I figured I'd put this up at least partially as a public service. That's why there's no pun or wordplay in the title: search engine optimization.

Rob S. said...

And thanks. We have our fingers crossed, but there are times when we see the future all too clearly.