Let’s Talk About Lubricants

by amy brockman · 0 comments ===> Tags: , ,

One ferret grooms another and as it does inadvertantly ingests hair which can lead to hairballs.

You’re a good ferret owner, right? You’ve meticulously ferret-proofed the home and removed all small items which could be swallowed causing a blockage? But there is another danger of which you may be completely unaware.


What are hairballs?

When your ferret licks and grooms itself, hair sticks to the tongue and is ingested into the body. Once inside the stomach and intestines, hair doesn’t always leave so easily. In fact, it can build up to the point that an intestinal blockage is created and the only way out is surgery.

We have a ferret who is into grooming in a really big way. She grooms herself constantly. (At least she did before going adrenal and loosing most of her hair.) She also grooms each of her companions in turn, chasing them around the room to tackle them so she can hold them still to be groomed. It pains me to think of how much hair could be in her gut.

Internal Lubricants to The Rescue

The secret is to find a way to make sure the hair being taken in leaves before it becomes a problem, so let’s talk about internal lubricants. You’ve maybe heard of them as hairball remedies or hairball treatment.

Most lubricants, GNC Ultra Mega Hairball Formula for Cats – Salmon Flavor and Laxatone Hairball Remedy for example, are made for cats but can also be given to ferrets. There are others, such as Marshall Ferret Lax, which are made specifically for ferrets.

Hairball remedies work by attaching to the hair after it has gone inside the body and moving it through the ferrets system.

Think back to when your ferret is shedding. After you hold him or her you look down and you’re covered in hair. The hair can’t simply be brushed off, not most of it anyway. It takes something sticky like a tape roller.

Hair which gets inside the ferret’s body is just as difficult to remove as the hair left on your clothing. Hairball remedies work because they are sticky. Most are petroleum based and are thick and gooey like petroleum jelly.

If your pet already has a large hairball, giving hairball treatment may not help. Hairball treatment is meant to be given as ongoing weekly preventative care.

The Cheaper Alternative

Nearly all hairball remedies are petroleum based with flavoring added to make it taste good to your pet.

You can (and I do) feed straight Vaseline and it will work just as well. Just make sure it’s the 100% Pure Petroleum kind with nothing added.

All our ferrets took to eating the Vaseline the minute it was offered. They actually seemed to like it.

Most commercially available products for ferrets come in a tube and it is recommended that a half-inch squirt from the tube be given twice a week. I give the same amount of plain petroleum jelly instead. During shedding season you may want to increase the frequency to every other day.

TIP: If your ferret is a picky eater, try rubbing a bit of the jelly on one of their paws. They’ll immediately get to work grooming and removing it just to have it end up inside where we want it anyway. 🙂 Success!

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