CoCo Is Sick! Would You Be Able To Do A Subcutaneous Injection?

The only reason we have two ferrets is because we have a 13 year old daughter.

My husband built an amazing complex for the ferrets where their cage is partly inside my daughters closet, and partly outside. It keeps the smell (mostly) outside.

Those ferrets have they got the life.

I got to wondering, could they be useful keeping out snakes, gophers, and mice?  So I experimented with opening the door to their outside cage and letting them run loose a bit around the garden.

Now, if the truth be told – us “parents” didn’t really mind if the ferrets happened to disappear while on one of these outside jaunts.  In fact, there was some private cheering on of this prospect.

No such luck.

FiFi (the chocolate colored one) turns out to be a bit of a hunter. She completely astonished my daughter who never thought that cute adorable, sweet, little FiFi was a killer.

But killer she is. And FiFi gets into all kinds of adventures. She came home the other week with her head swollen to twice its normal size.

Snake bite.

FiFi, you shouldn’t have gone down that hole.

My daughter learned a bit about nursing and FiFi is now completely fine.

CoCo getting broth by a dropper

CoCo gets bone broth from a dropper

But the latest thing is that CoCo (the whitish one) has become emaciated. She won’t eat her ferret food, she grinds her teeth compulsively, and barely moves. Those little creatures drop weight so quickly!

By the time it got around to parental notice, CoCo was in critical condition. I immediately got my daughter on an hourly schedule to dropper feed her bone broth and spoon feed raw butter.

The ferrets love butter treats and I am so glad now that I started that.

OK, so yes, I admit that I got to where I was giving the ferrets treats.

But I have to say, they really are sooooo cute!

So CoCo is in bad shape. My daughter continues to call vets – but we live in horse and cattle country and the usual response is “A what? and why do you have one of those?” or something like that.

If CoCo doesn’t turn around soon, we will try giving her fluids subcutaneously to try and help re-hydrate her. After watching a zillion YouTube videos, we found this one and felt it was the best. It was created by the Princeton Animal Shelter and I send many thanks to them for producing it.

The video is for treating a cat, and ferrets have thicker skin. But it gets the message across very effectively.

Now we don’t have all the fancy equipment they have, and a ferret apparently only needs a few cc’s of fluids, so we will probably just do it with a standard needle and plunger without all the bag and tubing.

My question to you is, do you think you could do this? Is it something that would freak you out – or is it no sweat, just like giving the dogs their shots?

I’ve gotten quite attached to the stinky little buggers.

Below is the video.

UPDATE:   CoCo recovered very well and is happily (in that joyous way that only ferrets can do) running about and finding more trouble to get into.

We probably really didn’t need to do the sub Q injections for re-hydration, but it did help significantly.

I have been quite surprised at the comments (below) that I am a horrible person for letting CoCo get sick.  Hmm, well – letting her run around outside where she could meet with a snake.  Well, you know, they are ferrets and they love going down holes and digging in the dirt.  Note for the record that we never feed them sugar or treats other than occasionally some butter.  For any carnivore, fat is a delicacy and a necessity.

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This post was written by Marjory


  • John says:

    Cool video. My wife handles all the uh, stuff involving blood and guts – so I would let her do it.

  • Alice says:

    Yes, I do this kind of thing all the time. That technique for re-hydration does help a lot. Make sure the solution is sterile and the needle new. I haven’t done it on a ferret, but yes for cats and dogs.

  • Tom says:

    Why don’t you try giving CoCo Colloidal Silver along with your other “treats”.
    I am no Doctor or Vet, but I would recommend an eyedropper several times per day.

  • Rebecca says:

    NP, it’s really easy. Of course, I ran a Veterinary hospital for over a decade so I guess my endorsement doesn’t really count. But as long as you don’t hit a vein, you can’t go wrong and if you’re using the small needles it doesn’t really hurt them.

  • Curt Bailey says:

    I hope Coco gets better. We love our animals.

  • Diana says:

    Worked in the animal industry all my life so yes, I know how to do sub q injections.

    Please take the ferret to a veterinarian for a diagnosis. While knowing how to administer fluids is a good skill to have, you really need a diagnosis before treating the ferret. Any small animal vet should be experienced treating ferrets and many will be happy to teach you how to administer fluids.

  • Jan says:

    Yes, I had a pomeranian who received a saline IV twice a week for six-seven months for her kidneys after she reached eleven years old. You do what you must when you are trying to keep a valued member of your family comfortable and around a bit longer. My advice: have someone help you for at least the first couple of times. Some pets are less than enthusiastic and may struggle…possibly while the needle is in them. But, it doesn’t seem to hurt them and distracting their attention might help the initial needle stick go easier.

  • Teresa says:

    Great information! Something we all need to know. I’ve given myself a shot before and that’s really all this is. I like knowing how the needle goes under the skin but not into the muscle. Looks pretty easy.

  • Pat says:

    Yes, if I can stick myself with dialysis needles, I can do anything!

  • Amy says:

    Yes, I give my 18 year old kitty fluid each evening. If you have a cooperative pet, it’s not hard at all. Also, there used to be an excellent video called something to the effect of: Sophia get her sub-q fluids. I did a quick search and couldn’t find it now, but it was excellent. Hope your daughters CoCo is improving each day!

  • BobDFL says:

    With owning goats and sheep, I’ve had to give many an SQ injection. This is just an extension of that and sure beats the IV method of rehydration. I’ve also done SQ injections to a rabbit with the sniffles (Pen-G) that prevented it’s spread throughout the rabbitry.

  • Jenny says:

    Wouldn’t be happy about it but yes, I could do it. I used to give my cat subcutaneous injections when she had cancer. The first time was hard, but you get used to it.

  • Grampa says:

    A vet has little contact with these animals but a call to a zoo nearby should put you in contact with a vet with wild animals I hope this helps.

  • Max says:

    First, as a ferret owner involved in “ferret rescue” I am very offended that you would let this happen. If you were in New England I would have these ferrets removed and placed in a new home.

    That having been said, Ferrets are widely used for rabbit hunting. They would probably be very good for keeping the mice and gophers out.

    Finally, to save Coco, best thing is PediLyte given orally through a feeding syringe every couple of hours. That’s what I did with mine.


  • Kathy says:

    A month ago the procedure would have “creeped me out”, but my sweet kitty has been diagnosed with diabetes and I am currently giving him subcutaneous insulin shots twice a day. I feel bad for him but I will do what it takes to keep him going. The hydration procedure would be very similar to what I’ve already learned to do. (not so bad).

  • Jan says:

    I also have ferrets and have rescued them from our local SPCA for many years. Whenever I get one that is not eating, we do a mixture of baby food meat, Ensure and Ferratone. They love it, we were able to help one such lovely fuzzy for 6 months of additional time with us.

  • Dale Danes says:

    No problem! I have never done it but I think if I can dehorn my calves and remove the ucoes (castrate) my boar piglets I should be able to handle sticking an animal with a little needle!

  • Lita says:

    Congratulations, you’re a horrible person. Those ferrets should go to someone who will actually care about them and not send them out to get snakebites. You sound like an awful human being to hope that a poor completely domesticated animal that would die on their own would just “disappear.”

    1. Hi Lita,

      Well I don’t really know how to respond to this.

      Hmm, let me see. Letting ferrets go outside to dig around in the dirt and go down holes – which they absolutely love doing and is their nature – you think is horrible? They have both an inside cage and an outside cage to play in, plus regular access to the outdoors. They have an abundance of food and clean water.

      You know, I guess I realized a long time ago that I was a horrible person. I think I’ll give up trying to prove to anyone otherwise. Yup, you are right.

  • Gina says:

    You have a very very sick ferret if you look on the internet and their would be ferret societies in your state and they could tell you who treats ferrets closest to you. Ferrets have a number of very common ferret diseases, one of which is insiloma and the sugars in the treats are very bad for them. Ferrets should never be let outside unless either on a lease , in a pen or very closely supervised and followed around. Owls, eagles, osprey and many other predators can scoup them up and unless you are in a big city there are coyotes, foxes, wolves, snakes and such. YOu really need to educate yourself on the care of ferrets.

    1. Hi Gina,

      CoCo has completely recovered, and she and FiFi are both now healthy and happy. Yup. CoCo went through a tough time there, but is fine now. Just surf around this site and you’ll realize I am very aware of the number of predators – I deal with them regularly to protect my own food supply.

      Both ferrets live a very comfortable dual life inside/outside under the aegis of protection that is afforded all the livestock by our two dogs who patrol the yard. Farm Dog especially loves CoCo…. and it is so amusing to watch the little ferret run up to the dog.

      Anyway, adventures do happen. That is a part of life. As you read from the article we did try to contact a vet – any vet! who would treat ferrets. And in the end we did very well on our own. And for my daughter and CoCo, that was the real value and lesson.

  • KountryKathi says:

    Not a problem, could do it on most any animal, but fish, they are a bit slick to hang on to. 😉 Oh, being an RN helps and most everything I have learned to do working with human children transfers well to critters. The main thing being is that they really don’t understand what you are doing or why but you still keep talking to them in a calm voice and just do it and get it over with.

  • Raj says:

    It’s appalling that you were hoping that YOUR pets wouldn’t return home. If you aren’t capable of caring for these animals, then perhaps you need to give them to someone who can. All they need is love. You should be protecting them from snake bites, not posting about their rehabilitation AFTER THE FACT. You should be ashamed of yourself. At least your daughter has some concern about her animals, but you as the adult in this situation need to get your head straight. If you weren’t eating, you’d drop weight too.

    1. Raj, I think you are taking this all too seriously. CoCo and FiFi have the innate desire to go down into holes – and are bound to encounter snakes, gophers, and more. They are infinitely happier doing what they are born to do than being ‘protected’ by living in a cage all the time. Over protection is never wise IMHO.

      Hmm, well one of the joys of life is the complexity that comes with parenthood, children, and pets. I suppose we all handle it differently.

  • JJM says:

    No problem other than keeping the critter calm and in 1 place. I say that as a person who injects subcutaneously daily. Thank goodness my insulin doesn’t come in a bag and required in such a large dose.

  • Roberta Kelly says:

    I haven’t done it — but sure there would be no issue in doing what would be needed…. I always secretly wanted to be a doctor or surgeon — ended up as a mental health therapist as I already had a family when I started to college…

  • I could do it if I had to. The video was well done and showed the process in great detail. The only thing I would have done there is tried to calm the kitty more. The cat actually handled it well since she only complained and didn’t try to bite or scratch.

  • James says:

    Not a problem, i’m an insulin diabetic.

  • Donna R says:

    I didn’t think I could give subcutaneous insulin injections to my cat, until I had to do it. My vet never asked if I could do it, just “this is what you do”. Now, no problem. So yes, I could give subcutaneous hydration if needs be.

  • Michelle says:

    I used to do this all the time for my old cat and she was very cooperative! I think she kind of liked it because it made her feel better.

  • Lisa says:

    I administered subcutaneous fluids to my dog many times when he was sick, and my mom/sister/dad currently do it to their dog who has Addison’s disease. It helps greatly, and is not that hard once you get past the idea of it. I think it is one of those skills like first aid that everyone should know.

  • Wanda H. says:

    I liked the video but I have a couple suggestions. I’m a R.N. & I used to do this to babies. #1. When filling the fluid drip chamber, turn the fluid bag upside down. Squeeze the bag to force the fluid into the drip chamber. Fill the drip chamber 1/2 full. Turn off the fluid control clamp. Turn the bag right side up and open the drip chamber to fill the tubing. This will eliminate all the air bubbles. After the injection, there will be a swollen area where the fluid went in. It’s suppose to be there. It will absorb gradually. Also don’t use a Sharpie/magic marker. The marker ink is toxic and will permeate the fluid bag. Mark a piece of tape with an arrow and place the arrow on the line where you want it to stop.

  • jonnie says:

    I could do it if it was necessary. I used to take in dying animals, or disabled animals, allowing them to live out their lives, as long as they were in no pain. Kin of like an animal hospice. I got started doing for pets left in the care of kennels, or vets. It was years ago, but I wouldn’t have a problem doing this for their health.

  • gj says:

    Doesn’t look like it would be an issue. Probably keeping the ferret calm may be difficult. The daughter should not have been surprised ferrets are great hunters.

  • Mary says:

    I think I could do this if I absolutely had to. I don’t like doing things that cause discomfort to my animals, but if its important for their health, then yeah I could do it.

  • Simone Shaffer says:

    It’s no big deal and not hard to administer sub-Q.
    I would add that an ace bandage LOOSELY wrapped around the chest and back does 2 things. First it keeps line and needle in place and 2 acts like a hug to the animal. But because there is a swelling of fluid right under the skin it needs to be loose and removed immediately after the fluid is finished.

  • Emily says:

    Yes, I am a nurse and used to sticking needles in people. I have given subcu fluids to a sick puppy before.

  • Aaron says:

    I have done this sometimes or puppies. Don’t worry it looks worse than it is. I breed miniature dachshunds and the alternative I taking them to a vet that will most likely charge $100 or more. Plus ferrets are “exotics” so the vet bills will be higher.

  • Jim says:

    Just thoughts … Ferret rescue organizations might have some suggestions (needle size/amount) … If you gently “scruff” the ferret (as a mother would carry its young – area between shoulder and neck) it will have a “calming” effect …

    … You’ll feel the space between skin and tissue and slowly inject fluid …

    Piece of cake … I did it for several months with an elderly cat … She never held a grudge … And, yes, ferrets are awesome little animals …

  • Nancy Kosling says:

    CoCo sick. Like JJM I give myself sub-Q injections for diabetes control. The only problem not discussed on the video is the time required to infuse the animal patient. Humans can be told how long the infusion will take. Animals want to jump and run off hoping to disengage the equipment. This is a two person job… one to hold and comfort the animal, the other to keep the line in place. Does not look fun for man or beast but it is do able.

  • Howard Wood says:

    you can call a university that has a school of veterinary Medicine they will have a veterinary hospital there and professors who teach veterinarians. They also do research. They can tell you what to do or if they think she needs to come to veterinary hospital you would need to take her there.

  • Nora says:

    We had to do this with a border collie puppy that got parvo even after he got his shots. No sweat, and the puppy got better quickly. We were able to start him on chicken broth and rice in just a few days. We found that barberry given in capsules cleared the parvo up. Some breads are tougher than others when it comes to this nasty intestinal virus so this treatment doesn’t always work.

  • Van Deman Ferret Rescue says:

    You are irresponsible parents and cruel ferret owners. You should be ashamed! Re home your ferrets for their own safety! Get that ferret to a rescue shelter immediately. If you can’t care for an animal and keep it safe, DON’T OWN THEM! You should be reported for animal neglect and cruelty! You sicken me!

  • Sandi says:

    Would do it-have done it. This is a very good video. I actually learned from our vet. When I had my farm, he would come on out and show me if I needed to do anything towards the health of all of the animals. A great learning experience for all!

  • Kee says:

    Google insulinoma and Ferrets. Try some Karo syrup or the like on the Ferrets gums.

  • elizabeth says:

    I think I could do it, however, not sure I can learn it from a video, withough practice.

  • Debbie Vrtis says:

    No problem doing this! I’ve done it to cats & it’s not difficult. Just use a fresh needle each time & swab the area with rubbing alcohol or something to clean it very well. Try giving a treat afterwards to ease the stress, or, at least lots of affection.

  • Margaret says:

    I could do it. I would suggest having a warm towel to put on them. The bag of sterile water will be room temperature. So, yes, it is colder than body temp and will make the patient cold. I’d complain too – poor kitty!

  • Kathleen says:

    I’ve been giving my horses, cats and dogs shots for about 40 some years, both intermuscular and Subcu so this would not be a problem for me.

  • Jim says:

    A friend who adores ferrets sent me this after I forwarded the situation to her:

    Cool – no problem for me to do sub-q fluids on a ferret – but I can’t believe these people can’t find a vet who knows how to help this ferret – when my Sheni was so sick and at death’s door with ECE (“ epizootic catarrhal enteritis (of ferrets)”), originally called “the greenies”. I created my own “ferret protocol” using ground up (in a blender) dry ferret food, Pediolyte (to replace electrolytes) and vanilla flavored Ensure (to put weight back on), slippery elm capsules (for the ulcers that ECE can cause in the ferrets throat/mouth (did not use the gel like capsule covering, just the powder inside them) and force fed it to Sheni and his cage mate, the lovely, Chloe, using a large tip-trimmed-off syringe – at first they didn’t want to try it and the first day it was a real challenge but then they discovered how sweet it was and would drive me crazy asking to be fed – this went on for about 8-weeks – the bigger problem was weaning them off of it when the crisis was over – Sheni ended up ½-lb chubbier than he had been – which was fine with me – my vet still uses my recipe when she gets a ferret in with ECE. Sometimes you can find a recipe online called “duck soup” – it’s for ferrets who are sick – has no duck in it , don’t know why they call it that and the recipe is not as good as mine but it’s not bad and it would be particularly good for ferrets with diarrhea or an illness that is anything but ECE – Sheni lived to be 9+ years old – he beat ECE and adrenal tumor cancer

  • Alan Bowen says:

    It would be no trouble at all. I lost track of how many shots I gave our last dog. Probably a couple hundred. I am afraid though if it was a ferret I would be looking for a stick to roast it on. 8>))

  • Elizabeth says:

    Not a problem. I was an RN in an earlier life. Also, there is a Type 1 in the house.

  • Debra says:

    No worries. Too many animals on our ranch to be fussy about this. It sounds way easier than doctoring eyes in cattle.

  • Pat says:

    Glad CoCo is better. Yes I could give sub q to anything here. Seems like it’s just 1 step further than the insulin shots I have to give a small dog and a cat twice a day every day (arent I soooo lucky. The dog isnt bad ($25 a bottle, the cats is over $200. Thank goodness its lasts a long time.)

  • Sharon says:

    Yes, I could easily preform this task on any animal. My children say it is because I am heartless, but sometimes you have to do things that seem mean in order to make things (animals and kids) get healthier.

    1. Sharon, that is the truth! Whew, parenting is far more difficult than a simple injection. LOL

  • Christine says:

    You are terrible people. Obviously don’t know how to properly care for animals and wished the ferret would run away? Really? You do realize ferrets cannot survive on their own and would die within a week or two of being on their own. How dare you subject those poor innocent ferrets to being attacked by snakes! You disgust me and many fellow ferret owners.

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