Does your pet need a bug out bag?

What is a BoB?

BoB is shorthand for a Bug Out Bag – a portable kit which includes everything you would need to survive for 72 hours. It often goes by other names such as 72-Hour Kit, a Go Bag, or GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) Bag. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, recommends that every member of the household have one, pets included.

The goal of the Bug Out Bag is to be easy to grab and take along if evacuation from your home is necessary. It should be stocked with supplies needed for survival until help can be found, until you’re able to settle in elsewhere, or until you’re able to return home.

Tips for Using a Bug Out Bag

In our home, our pet’s BoB stays with their travel kennel. Since the two would be used together in the event of an emergency it makes sense to locate both together.

The recommendation by FEMA is to locate the bag near an exit to your home in a convenient, easy-to-access place. It’s good advice which we choose not to follow. Instead, our pet’s kennels and bags are kept in the closet which we designate as our tornado shelter. We locate our own bags in the same place. They’re still easy to access, but living as we do in “tornado alley” this arrangement made the most sense to us.

The beginning of tornado season in the spring of each year is also a convenient reminder to check supplies in our Bug Out Bags for anything which has expired and needs replaced as well as to check the condition of batteries in the radio and flashlights. I mark my calendar and remind myself to do this again a second time each year in the Fall.

What to Keep in a Bug Out Bag

The content of bags will vary depending on individual situations. If you live in an area of the country more prone to severe winter storms and power outages than tornados and wild fires you’re going to have a somewhat different set of needs. Make adjustments to your bag as needed.

Below is a list of what we keep in our pet’s BoB.

  • This checklist with a reminder to check back frequently to rotate stocked items and replace anything which has been used.
  • A travel kennel large enough to hang a hammock up high and a litter box below. Label the kennel with name, address, and phone number.
  • A three day supply of water per animal. For ferrets plan to take extra water which can be used for cooling if necessary.
  • A three day supply of food per animal. We include dry ferret food plus jars of baby food. Remember to rotate out the food every few months to keep it fresh.
  • Food and water bowls in the crate.
  • A spray bottle. Useful for misting ferrets to keep them cool.
  • Newspaper for lining the kennel and the litter box.
  • Old blankets or rags to use as bedding.
  • Leashes and collars.
  • Extra ID tags. Tags should include owner’s name, address, phone number and other emergency contact information. Pet tattoo or microchip information.
  • Current photo of pet along with age, breed, sex and other identifying information.
  • Copies of medical records, especially vaccination records which would be required should you need to evacuate to public housing or need to board your pet.
  • Extra medication along with instructions for administering.
  • Your Ferret First Aid Kit.
  • Toys and treats to distract and comfort your pet during a stressful period.
  • Not in the bag but in the freezer with easy access to grab and go are several frozen reusable ice pack to keep ferrets from overheating.

That’s it for our Bug Out Bag. What about you? Do you have one? What do you keep in yours? Let me know if I’ve missed anything?

{ 0 comments }

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.

Hairballs!

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!

{ 0 comments }

Merry Christmas

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

From this ferret loving household to yours, Merry Christmas.

{ 0 comments }

Post image for Commercial Ferret Treats: Why They’re Not Always a Good Choice

It’s a sad but true fact — many treats manufactured specifically for ferrets are not a healthy choice to be fed to ferrets! And in fact, some are outright dangerous.

This news often comes as a surprise to new ferret owners. Why would any company which markets to ferret owners do this? Profit, what else?

Ferret treats made with colorful bits of dried fruit and vegetables look so appealing, who can resist? They’re much prettier and more appetizing than boring, brown meat-based treats. And how about those “yogurt covered” treats? They certainly appeal to OUR sweet tooth?

As long as there are pet owners unaware of the dangers who will buy their product, the manufacturer will continue to make and sell whatever sells.

Why do ferrets need treats?

Do ferrets need treats? Assuming they are being fed an appropriate high-quality ferret food, then no, they don’t need treats. Fed in small amounts, treats can come in handy when training ferrets, but otherwise are not necessary.

Treats, it has been said, is really about what the pet owner needs. We need to pamper them and make them feel loved and special. I personally “need” to see the look of joy on their little faces and I “need” to feel how much they love and need me when they run, dancing and smiling all the way, to greet me. Nevermind the fact this happens most consistently when I’m rattling their favorite treat bag. 🙂 It’s still feels like love to me.

What is so unhealthy about treats?

Many commercial ferret treats contain large amounts of fruits and vegetables. Ferrets are obligate carnivores. Carnivore means they eat meat. Obligate means they eat ONLY meat. Their bodies can’t absorb anything else. Everything else passes through undidgested. Large chunks of fruits and vegetables which fail to digest can cause blockages requiring surgery to clear.

High sugar content is another problem with many commercial ferret treats. Ferrets are prone to insulinoma, a disease which produces tumors on the pancrease and creates many health problems. Research is still being done, but initial research seems to indicate that diet may play a role in the development of this disease.

All fruits and vegetables contain fructose, a natural sugar. In addition, many ferret treats are “yogurt coated” or “sugar frosted” to add extra appeal. These type products are high in processed white sugar or high fructose corn syrup and have no place in a healthy ferret’s diet.

Raisins which are not yogurt or sugar coated are also no longer recommended. Years ago they were the favored treat for ferrets, until researchers somewhere discovered it was probably not a very good idea. Being a fruit, they contain a lot of naturally occurring sugar. They also fail to dissolve after being eaten and can cause blockages.

Rawhide treats while high in animal protein and low in sugar are not a good option because they do not break down easily in the stomach and can cause a blockage.

What makes a healthy treat?

The list above looks lengthy, but never fear, there are plenty of healthy treats from which to choose in the list below. Most of the recommended treats are high in animal protein. They should also dissolve easily and quickly once eaten so there less risk of a blockage.

{ 0 comments }

I am beyond thrilled to introduce the amazing Painting Ferrets. We love, love, love these guys!

We found Callie, Coco, Clementine and Mixie offering their services at fiverr.com and couldn’t resist. For an amazing $5 only they will paint any short message you request. (Perhaps you would like to commission them to paint a birthday or Christmas greeting to a ferret lover on your list?)

They have their own website at www.thepaintingferrets.com and are also available to be followed on Twitter.

{ 0 comments }

Picture of family loading van getting ready to travel.

The holidays are fast approaching and the kids and I are headed to grandma’s house with a car load of pets, including the ferrets, in tow. Now that winter is upon us, at least we no longer have deadly heat to think about (some of you still may) but there is still plenty of planning to do.

We’ll be gone from home ten days with almost a full day of driving both coming and going.

Over the years I’ve developed a travel routine for our family which I would like to share. I keep this list in a pocket of my suitcase so that I always know where it is and remember to look it over before leaving.

1. Choose an Appropriate Carrier

The first thing you’ll need is a good carrier.

We have three ferrets. Our travel cage is one extra large dog carrier. There is room up high to hang a hammock, with enough room below and to the back of the carrier to sit a normal size potty box. At the front of the carrier is room for food and water to connect to the wire door. It works perfect for us.

It’s important to choose a sturdy, safe carrier. Test it in your vehicle to make sure it fits. It’s a good idea to place the carrier either backwards or sideways in the vehicle. Should you need to stop fast, throwing a ferret up against the smooth plastic side of the carrier is much more gentle than into the wire grid door.

Find a way to belt the carrier into your vehicle. There are products for sale on the market to help with this such as the Pet Carrier Keeper and the Pet Auto Carrier And Kennel.

In the unfortunate event of an accident, each cage or kennel in the vehicle should be labeled to include the following:

  • name, age, microchip tag ID and description (or picture) of the animals inside.
  • paperwork and tags which provide proof of required vaccinations.
  • information about any allergies the animal may have and any medications being given along with dosage information.
  • if the animal happens to be a biter or if any other personality information is necessary.
  • directions regarding what the animal eats as well as what it should not eat.
  • include your own name, address and phone number as well the name, address and phone number of a friend or relative who can be called to take care of the animals.

You may want to place all this information in a waterproof pouch before attaching it to the carrier.

2. Get Your Ferrets Accustomed to Traveling

Our ferrets travel with us several times each year and have become fairly good travelers. If yours have never been on a road trip you may want to start now taking them on several small, local trips to get them used to the ride. Make these trips to some place fun and not the vet so the ferret doesn’t come to associate going on a trip with unpleasant experiences.

Find other ways to make traveling pleasant as well. Take along favorite toys or treats. Make stops along the way to allow the ferret to get out and explore, which they love to do.

3. Creating a Comfortable “Home”

The longer the drive, the more important it is to make the cage their “home away from home” and to make it as comfortable as possible. The following items are absolute necessities:

Ferret Litter Kit
  • Potty Box – if your cage is too small for a full size potty box, then search for a smaller plastic container which will do for short term.

  • Food Bowl – preferably either a dish which can attach to the wire of the cage, or a spill-proof bowl.

  • Water Bottle – these tend to jiggle around a lot during travel which causes them to leak. It’s a good idea to place a bowl beneath the tip of the bottle to catch drips.

  • Soft Things – include plenty of blankets, old t-shirts or rags in the cage. Not only do ferrets love having these type things to crawl under, play and hide, but it also provides extra padding just in case there should be any sudden stops, or heaven forbid, an accident.

  • Litter and litter scoop for cleaning out the litter box.

While items on the following list are not absolute necessities, they will make your life easier. If you have these items available it’s worth packing them to take along.

  • Extra blankets and hammocks in case the original set get soiled.
  • Cleaning cloths.
  • Light weight towels or cloths to use wet for wrapping around your ferret if it needs to be kept cool. Can also be used dry to add warmth if needed.
  • Toilet paper and/or paper towels for quick cleanups.
  • A box of baby wipes also to be use for quick cleanups.
  • A light weight cloth or towel, preferably something that will allow air to circulate, to cover the cage to block direct sun light coming in the car windows.
  • Spring clips to further secure cage doors.
  • A playpen. Can be set up during breaks while driving or used when you get where you’re going.
  • Leash and harness so ferrets can be taken out of their travel cage for a bit of exercise. Take the time before leaving to fit the harness on the ferret and adjust it well. The fit should be snug enough to prevent escape, not so snug as to strangle, of course. Ferrets can slip out of their halters easier than many animals. It’s worth testing at home first.

4. Take Your Own Food, Water, and Medications

Ferrets are notoriously picky eaters as well as drinkers. It’s not uncommon for a ferret who suddenly looses its favorite familiar meal to refuse all other food and water and need to be force fed – not something you want to deal with on vacation. Therefore, be sure to take the following:

  • Food – take plenty and take extra. You never know what’s going to happen. I’ve had bowls of food spilled out into the pee and poop and ruined, bottles of soda accidentally dumped into the bowl, etc.

  • Water – depending on how long you’ll be gone, take several large bottles of water from home. If you can’t haul enough along to last the entire trip, start mixing the water from home with the local water when you get where you’re going to slowly get the ferrets accustomed to drinking the new water.

  • Duck Soup or other special foods can be a bit tricky to take along. Duck Soup, often prepared in ice cube trays, will travel better if left in the trays. However, even if kept on ice the cubes will thaw and the food will stay edible only a couple of days.

    Depending on how long you’ll be gone you may need to consider other options such as Marshalls Ferret Uncle Jims Duk Soup Mix, which is a dry soup mix and needs no refrigeration or jars of all meat baby food such as Gerber Chicken & Chicken Gravy.

    Begin mixing this new food with their old food a week or two in advance so they become familiar with it.

  • If you have sick or elderly ferrets who require daily medications you’ll need to bring along plenty for the entire trip. Be sure to include a syringe or whatever tool you use to administer the medications. Depending on which medications is being given you may also need to plan to bring along an ice chest.

5. Plan Ahead For Medical Emergencies

There is nothing more terrifying than facing a medical emergency unprepared. Whether it’s for my human kids or the fur kids, I feel so much more at ease and able to enjoy the time away when I know I’ve taken the time to plan ahead and pack a few items that might be needed on the trip.

Now is the time to:

  • Think ahead and look for ferret familiar vets where you’re going in case they’re needed. A couple of good places to start your search is The American Ferret Association and Ferret Universe. If neither list provides someone in your area consider contacting a local ferret rescue group to ask for help.

  • You should have a ferret first aid kit. If not, pack one now and bring it along. For full details of what to include see my previous post “Packing a Ferret First Aid Kit”.

6. Know and Understand the Legality of Ferrets Along Your Route

Scary but true, there are still places in the United States where ferrets are considered to be wild animals, not pets. If you should happen to be pulled over by police while traveling through these areas there is a chance your ferrets could be taken from you and destroyed. It has happened before. Be sure you know the law in the states to which you will be traveling. California has a particularly bad reputation with regards to the legality of ferrets, but it’s not the only place which can cause you a problem. The American Ferret Association maintains a list of State and Territory Ferret Regulations which you can check before heading out on your trip.

Plan your route to avoid ferret unfriendly states or communities, but even in ferret friendly states you should be prepared to show documentation such as proof of rabies vaccination for your pets if stopped and asked. Make sure your ferrets are up to date on all required vaccines before leaving on the trip. Carry with you the stamped and signed paperwork from the vet office showing when and where the vaccine was given as well as the rabies tag which you can attach to the animal’s cage or carrier if not to their collar.

7. Further Safety Guidelines

Ferrets should be kept in the cage at all times while traveling. Ferrets allowed to roam free inside a vehicle can get into too many dangers. They can crawl up inside seats or dashboards, or up under accelerator and brake pedals causing accidents. And if there should be an accident they can be thrown from the vehicle or accidentally turned loose. A domesticated ferret running loose doesn’t survive long.

Heat is a killer to ferrets. Keep in mind that even in the winter a car acts like a greenhouse, trapping the sun’s heat and temperatures inside can climb high enough to put the heat-sensitive ferret in danger. Never leave ferrets unattended in a vehicle for any length of time.

When you get where you’re going, remember to take the time to ferret proof your temporary place or set up a playpen ferret activity and keep them safe.

{ 0 comments }

Keep ferrets away from all sources of electricity.

November, which is just around the corner, is National Novel Writing Month.

“Cool!” I’m thinking, “I’d love to try writing a novel.”

Perhaps a novel about a ferret with super ferrety strength . . . he bit into an electrical cord, an act fatal to most, but he not only survived but thrived and was transformed into . . . Super Ferret! 🙂

Fun fantasy, but back to reality. Ferrets and electricity are absolutely no laughing matter.

If you’ve ever seen (or seen pictures) of electrical burns you’re aware of how severe and painful even a small jolt of electricity can be.

Even if you’ve had ferrets for years, it’s a good idea to take the time to re-evaluate the house in which they live and make sure there are no exposed wires or outlets for them to become curious about. Some ferrets seem fascinated with cords, while others don’t seem to care much. It’s really easy to become a little too relaxed with regards to electricity, especially if you’ve got ferrets who don’t seem to notice the cords, but all it takes is one small bite and it’s too late.

For ferret proofing electrical cords and outlets you’ve got a few options:

  • Access to some electrical cords can simply be blocked by placing furniture or other heavy items in front of them making them inaccessible. Remember, ferrets can fit into unbelievably tight places. Keep this in mind when determining if blocking access will work.
  • If cords and outlets can’t be blocked they should be covered. Schedule a trip to your local hardware store and have a look around the home safety isle. Items sold for child-proofing a house such as Outlet Plug Cover and Wire Guard, will work for ferret-proofing as well.
  • Discourage chewing by using a bad-tasting deterrent product such as Marshall Time Out!, Grannick Bitter Apple , Synergy Fooey Ultra Bitter Spray .

That’s really about all there is to it. Have a look around your house today and see what you can do. If you’ve got any further advice or suggestions, please add a comment below.

{ 0 comments }

Ferret in cowboy hat costume.

It’s almost Halloween and a perfect time to remind ferret lovers everywhere to please keep the fur babies safe. We’ve got a few quick tips and reminders:

  • Ferrets don’t need candy! Keep them out of it. Some of it is even deadly.
  • As trick-or-treaters come to the door . . . make sure fuzzy stays safely inside. Ferrets outdoors on their own can’t survive for long.
  • Ferrets Law dictates the little darling fuzzies must investigate anything new you bring in the house. That includes all those new decorations you’re putting up. Check each for small objects that could come loose and be eaten. You don’t want a blockage. If any of the decorations are powered with electricity, be sure to secure the electrical cords.
  • For carved pumpkins normally lit with candles, know that your ferret will have to check this out as well. Consider lighting with a battery operated candle instead.
  • Costumes are so much fun — well, fun for us, I’m not so sure about the animals. If you dress your ferret, do so only when he or she can be supervised. Costumes can become tangled in the wire of their cage or caught on other household furniture or items leaving the poor ferret to dangle until noticed, and sometimes creating a dangerous situation.
  • Don’t allow your kids to take the ferret along if they go trick-or-treating. Think about it . . . a pack of kids, all running door-to-door in the dark, high on sugar, thinking of nothing but their next candy bar . . . it’s not a good situation for a ferret to be in.

I’m certain to have forgotten or not thought about something. Please feel free to leave a post and add to this article or correct anything I’ve written by leaving a comment. The only objective here is to keep them all safe. 🙂

{ 0 comments }