Ferrets are not particularly susceptible to strokes, but it can happen. As in humans, diet, lifestyle and heredity play a part in determining if a ferret will have a stroke. Strokes in young ferrets are virtually nonexistent, but there are several signs you can look for in your older ferret. In the case of ferrets, "old" is upwards of five years. If you suspect your pet is having or has had a stroke, get it immediately to a veterinarian who treats exotics.
Signs of Stroke
A stroke in ferrets, as in humans, is caused by a blood clot cutting off oxygen to the brain. During a stroke, your pet may suffer convulsions, fits, unresponsiveness or unconsciousness. Stroke often causes sudden partial paralysis, especially on one side of the face or body. The paralysis may be temporary or may last several weeks. Other symptoms of stroke include walking in circles, disorientation, unresponsiveness, and head tilt.
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Treatment for Stroke
Get your ferret to a ferret-savvy veterinarian as soon as possible if it shows any of the symptoms of having had a stroke. The faster treatment is administered, the better your pet's chances of a full recovery. Usually, your vet will treat paralysis with an anti-inflammatory steroid such as Dexamethasone. Supportive care, such as warmth, fluids and physical therapy may be required.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke, or hyperthermia, is an all-too-common problem for pet ferrets. Ferrets are unable to sweat to regulate their body temperatures, and must be kept in temperatures below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Panting is one of the best indicators of heatstroke. Other symptoms include lethargy, unconsciousness, drooling, vomitting, dizziness, and diarrhea. The ferret also may display overly red gums and tongue. If you suspect heat stroke, slowly bring your ferret's temperature down by bringing him someplace quiet and cool. You can use cool compresses or bathe it in lukewarm water. You want to get the animal to about 103 degrees, which is the high end of normal for a ferret. Then get it to a veterinarian.