Hope for Our Ferrets
by Diane Bodofsky
What can you do when medical science has reached the end of its expertise? How many
times have we heard that there is no hope? After hearing from other ferret owners that
they were at their wits end, I decided to do a little homework on alternative therapies,
specifically the use of herbs.
Before I describe what I have been doing and what the results have been,
I want to stress that the use of herbs should in no way be substituted for proper
veterinary care. Im using the herbs with the full knowledge of my veterinarian and
we both are monitoring the results.
Now, for a little background
my grandmother was part Native
American, so the use of herbs isnt new to me. Although that was many years ago, and
unfortunately Ive forgotten most of what I learned, I do remember one thing: What
she did worked.
Right now Im only experimenting with three herbs
dArco Inner Bark, Alfalfa Leaf and Hawthorne Supreme. The herbs come as an elixir,
with or without an alcohol base. I have chosen the alcohol-free since alcohol is processed
by the liver and I prefer not to possibly overtax the organ.
To calculate the amount for your ferret, take the human
dose, multiply the low number by 3 and the high number by 4, divide by 16 to get the
ferret dose (round to the nearest whole number). Once that is calculated, give ˝ that
amount twice a day. For example, Pau dArco is 30-40 drops 3-4 times a day (30 x 3 /
16 = 5.625 rounded to 6 and 40 x 4 / 16 = 10). Therefore, the ferret gets 3-5 drops twice
Alfalfa Leaf 1,2 helpful in treating anemia and balancing the
hormones when treating hypo and hyper estrogenism.
Hawthorne Supreme 1,2 helpful in treating heart conditions.
Pau dArco 1,2 antifungal, antibacterial, antiyeast, and
anticancer properties and useful in chronic health imbalances.
For humans, the books recommend a six days on, one day off protocol.
Youll have to see how well your ferret responds before deciding if the six/one
protocol works better than using the herbs for seven straight days. As the symptoms
decrease, the dosage can be reduced until you find the maintenance amount.
For now, I will present five case studies, and update their progress at
a later date.
Case Study #1: Fido, 9 1/2 year old Marshall Farms sprite. Fido was
recently diagnosed with Mitral and Aortic Valve insufficiency. She was placed on Lasix for
5 weeks but couldnt tolerate the medication even though it relieved the ascities.
I started her on Hawthorne Supreme on 5/12/97: 8 drops twice a day mixed
with 50 mg of Vitamin C, 1 teaspoon Hills A/D and 1 teaspoon water.
After only two weeks she has shown marked improvement in her energy
level and overall health. Before starting the Hawthorne Supreme she could only walk a few
steps before falling over and just lying there. Now she is able to walk through the house
a couple of times before getting tired.
Case Studies 2, 3 and 4:
Clyde, 3 year old Marshall Farms gib (post adrenalectomy);
Ketta, 3 year old Marshall Farms sprite (pre adrenalectomy);
Chipper, 2 year old gib.
All three ferrets exhibited aggression with each other and with humans.
They were started on Alfalfa Leaf on 5/1/97: 5 drops twice a day mixed with 50 mg Vitamin
C, 1 teaspoon Hills A/D and 1 teaspoon water.
After one week the aggression decreased significantly; after two weeks
they could stay in the same room with only mild fighting; after three weeks I was able to
reduce the amount of Alfalfa Leaf to 5 drops, once a day. Note
the alfalfa appears
to make the ferrets sleep deeper and be more relaxed.
Case Study 5: Butter 8 year old Marshall Farms gib.
Butter was diagnosed with Lymphoma in November 1994 and is in remission
after receiving chemotherapy. He was started on Pau dArco on 5/15/97: 5 drops twice
a day mixed with 50 mg Vitamin C, 1 teaspoon Hills A/D and 1 teaspoon water.
Butter started showing an increase in energy and appetite within a
matter of days. There has also been a slight increase in fur growth.
One thing to realize when using herbs is that change is gradual. Most
books state that the changes can take 3060 days to become evident. My personal
experience is that positive changes show within a few days, although I wouldnt give
up if there was no immediate improvement.
A few other ferret symptoms that Im using the Pau dArco Bark
for is lethargy, weight loss, severe diarrhea, rear leg paralysis, hypoglycemia, an
inoperable liver cyst, an inoperable intestinal lymph node, and an miliary interstitial
lung pattern. Im also using the Alfalfa Leaf for anemia and adrenal symptoms such as
aggression and fur loss.
I will continue monitoring the health improvements with the five
guinea ferrets and experiment with additional herbs as needed. At this point I
am very optimistic that the use of herbal therapy can improve the quality of life for our
ferrets, especially when medical science has come to a crashing halt. Ill keep you
1 Naturopathic Handbook Of Herbal Formulas, Herbal Research
Publications, Inc. 3rd Edition.
2 Healthy Healing, Linda Rector page, N.D., PhD, 10th Edition.