Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Gus, You Can Exhale Now

We had a bit of a scare before the Mardi Gras party. Our ferret Gus was listless, and lacked his customary energy. So during our first big prep night, Kathy took him to the emergency vet, and got what amounted to an "I dunno" and some antibiotics. The next morning, I took him to our regular vet in Ridgefield Park. (She-Devil came along too; they needed their distemper shots anyway.)

After running some tests, the doctor told us that Gus had some blood in his stool, and very little of the bacteria that allow his intestines to work. He gave us a host of medicines: an antibiotic, something to settle his stomach, and some bacteria builders. The schedule was complicated: one thing he was to get once a day, another, twice, and two things three times a day.

Medicating a ferret when he doesn't want to be medicated can be tough. She-Devil is on medication, and is docile and pleasant, happy to get a treat afterward. Gus, on the other hand, trusted us less and less the more medicine he'd get. He peed on Kathy twice in a row when she tried to administer the antibiotic. "Yours!" she shouted.

I'd hold him, scruffed, away from me so he couldn't try the peeing tactic on me. He would swing his body like a pendulum, shaking to get away from the antibiotic, which clearly tasted horrible. It was like he was doing the twist in mid-air, except with claws. A lot of claws.

There was another medicine, sulcrafate, that didn't taste quite as bad (it seemed), but was still awful -- and worse yet, it was in a bulb dropper instead of a press syringe. There's no way to control the pace that the dropper expels its liquid -- especially when you only have a split second to make it happen. Gus would open his mouth, I'd put the tip of the dropper inside, and squeeze before he could push it away. He hated it, and no wonder: I was practically waterboarding him. For his own good, but it's not like I could explain that to him.

Anyway, that's all over. Gus is in much better spirits now, and much more active. We stopped the antibiotic after 10 days, and the sulcrafate has run out. (Another drawback to the bulb-dropper-built-into-the-cap system -- you can't close the bottle until the medicating is over; I knocked it over and spilled some when I reached for the bottle after Gus had wound me up.) All that's left is some of the bacteria building paste (which he likes) and regular droppers of Vivify (a nutritional supplement that he loves). So he's getting back to trusting us again. And I don't have to feel like a monster three times a day.

(Not sure where our camera is; this old picture of me and Gus will have to do.)

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