Common Ferret Diseases , their symptoms and what you should do ?
Ferrets that go for health checkups regularly are usually treated before the aggravation of the diseases, but it is always good to be able to detect the diseases in your ferret at the very moment they appear by knowing the symptoms associated with each of them.
To act at the right time and give your ferret a better chance by treating it as soon as the first symptoms appear, I will give you the symptoms associated with each ferret disease, the severity of the disease, whether it is urgent to see a veterinarian or not and what treatment to administer as well as the first aid.
Know that some diseases in ferrets have symptoms that are similar, so do not panic if you suspect a serious disease and I always recommend in case of doubt to take your ferret to a vet as soon as possible.
Let’s dive in and learn how to detect diseases in ferrets as soon as they appear by checking the symptoms:
1- Ferret Blockage (GI Obstruction)
Ferrets are often victims of blockage because of a tumor, hairballs but especially because of their mania for chewing and swallowing everything they find or can tear off, such as the eyes of lint or buttons on clothing … and sometimes, the object swallowed will not pass through their digestive system, usually in the intestine and this is the intestinal obstruction.
Blockage in ferrets can be dangerous by not only preventing the proper functioning of the digestive system by preventing food and fluids from passing through, but more importantly the blood circulation and even the flow of oxygen in the blood.
Signs your ferret has a Blockage (Gastrointestinal obstruction):
- Ferrets may have trouble going to the bathroom, repeatedly going in their litter box and grinding their teeth.
- Lethargy ( ferret seems tired all the time ) .
- Teeth grinding and excessive saliva due to pain when he goes in his litter box and can’t relieve himself
- Anorexia when the obstruction is chronic
- Pawing at mouth , rubbing and clawing at their face
- Ferret that doesn’t want to come out of its cage and running to hide and showing some aggressive behavior like biting when you want to get them out of their hiding place or cage.
- Less or no feces at all in your ferrets litter box
- Ferret not eating or decreased appetite
- Lost of interest in playing
Sometimes a ferret with a GI Obstruction will start vomiting everything he swallows (a sign of emergency and you should take your ferret to the vet immediately, he will probably undergo corrective surgery).
What to do when your ferret has a blockage?
It is recommended not to waste time especially if you’re a new ferret owner and to take your ferret to the vet quickly, depending on the size of the swallowed object, Corrective surgery could be the only way to save your hamster
Ferret blockage Protocol ( after 4 hours , stop this process and go to the vet if this does not work ! ):
If you think it is a minor blockage, the swallowed object is not too big, giving your ferret some pure canned Pumpkin or Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline) with a little massage may help the object that is blocking his intestine to go on its way and free his digestive tract.
Give your ferret a tablespoon of Pumpkin and wait an hour to see if it works (if your ferret refuses to eat, mix the pumpkin with whisked egg)
Then give a tablespoon of petroleum jelly and wait an hour (mix with a little salmon oil if your ferret refuses to swallow the petroleum jelly).
Continue until (in 2 to 3 hours) your ferret can relieve itself and its stools should be orange, continue until you find the object that your ferret has swallowed inside its poop
If the ferret still does not relieve itself after 2 to 3 hours! Go to the vet with your ferret.
The vet will then prescribe an antacid and antibiotics, you will then have to monitor your ferret so that the wound does not become infected and you will have to feed it with soft food, generally baby food during the first 48 hours, in any case you will have all the necessary advice at the vet.
2- Ferret Adrenal Disease
This is a disease that affects ferrets between the ages of 3 and 7 years old and could become fatal if left untreated. This disease is caused in ferrets when the Hypothalamus sends a signal to the Pituitary Gland which in turn sends it back to your ferret’s adrenal glands, your ferret’s male testicles or female Ovaries, will produce a bunch of sex hormones (as testosterone and estrogen).
Neutered or Spayed Ferret will not produce enough sex hormones, and Adrenal glands will be forced to try to produce enough of these hormones on their own, which they cannot do! and this is what causes this disease.
This disease is common in Mall and Marshall Ferrets a cause of the early spaying and early neutering but also the excessive exposure to artificial light in pet stores and pet Mills (Mill ferrets).
Is it a serious disease?
It is the third most common disease in the U.S. for ferrets, but it is curable if you intervene and treat it in time.
Signs Your ferret has Adrenal Disease :
- Skin disorders and itching : Hair loss on the flanks, which starts at the base of the tail and will slowly affect the whole body of the ferret.
- Possible itching
- Loss of muscle mass (muscle atrophy)
- Enlargement of the prostate gland in male ferrets due to and difficult urination
- In the female ferret, you will notice enlarged vulva
- Ferret may become aggressive and bite and will show unusual sexual behavior
- Depression and lack of energy
- Weakened immune system
What should you do if you suspect adrenal disease in your ferret?
You have no choice but to take your ferret to the vet, who will probably suggest surgery (a bit risky) either to remove one of the adrenal glands, which will only solve the problem temporarily! The disease will spread sooner or later to the other remaining gland.
You can also opt for Lupron gold injections (SUPRELORIN F Implant). Deslorelin Acetate implant, this will prevent the overproduction of hormones by the adrenal glands. The tumor may even disappear with this solution.
The concern is that your ferret will have to do expensive Lupron injections ( $30 to $50 ) every month and Deslorelin implant is recommended usually twice a year but it is more effective.
3- Insulinoma disease (Pancreatic Tumor)
This is a disease that is common in almost 50 to 70% of ferrets purchased in a pet store (from pet mills) and especially ferrets that are between 2 and 5 years old and are fed kibble (high in fiber and sugar and low in protein) instead of raw, frankenprey or whole prey diet.
Ferret Insulinoma is chronic hypoglecimia caused by a tumor in the beta cells of the pancreas, the cells responsible for creating insulin.
These cells, once cancerous, will overproduce insulin, which will cause hypoglycemia in the insulin-affected ferret.
Signs of Insulinoma in Ferrets :
- Lethargy is characteristic of this disease
- Weak and wobbly back legs ( ferret dragging them behind or they’ll fall to one side )
- Significant weight loss ( sometimes )
- Sleepy ferret , not responding to stimulation , not wanting to play anymore …
- Not eating or lack of appetite and not drinking as usual
- When the ferret’s eyes look zoned out ( ferret looking at nothing !! )
- Squinting eyes
- Shaky ferret when it wakes up , seizures and vomiting
- Depression and confusion
- Ferret that paws at its mouth till getting little cuts on its lips
Your ferret may show only a few symptoms at a time, and these symptoms may disappear for a day or two, and then you will see them return as soon as your ferret’s blood sugar level increases.
Insulinoma is a cancer and the sooner you take your ferret to the vet, the better his chances of recovery. Treatments other than chemotherapy will only allow your ferret to live insulinoma free symptoms and a happy lifestyle!
The longer you wait to treat your ferret, the worse the tumor will get and the more it will hurt and the more you risk that your ferret will have brain damages because of the insulinoma and even the death of your ferret.
Your ferret must have access to kibbles at all times (never sugar, fruits or vegetables) until he is put on treatment and you replace his kibbles with raw food.
So at the first sign of insulinoma, take your ferret to the vet.
What is the cause of Insulinoma in ferrets?
Many specialists say that it is due to poor breeding of ferrets in pet mills and at Marshall’s also, inbreeding and especially because pet stores are not interested in the health of the ferret since it is sold young and generally at that age, the Kits (baby ferrets) are in good shape, the pet stores are more interested in the quilt and the colors of the ferrets.
The wrong diet too; high in carbohydrates (sugar that will increase the ferret’s blood glucose level and trigger the process) and fiber and low in protein and fat is the source of this disease, which is why it is more common in ferrets fed kibbles and not raw or whole prey diet. Never feed fruits and veggies for your ferret as well!
How to reduce the risk of Insulinoma in your ferret?
- Buy a ferret from a passionate breeder and not from a pet store or Marshal’s or any other pet mill
- Feed your ferret a No carbs diet like Raw frankenprey + whole prey diet (to avoid your ferret experiencing blood sugar spikes that trigger the process of excessive insulin production and cause insulinoma in the end)
- Never give your ferret sweet treats or kibble
- Lots of playtime for your ferret
- Monitor your ferret’s blood sugar level
- Avoid stressing your ferret.
Feeding raw diet is also recommended for ferrets that are already showing symptoms of insulinoma.
What to do when you suspect your ferret has Insulinoma?
The vet is your only option in this case and your ferret will be treated with either medication or surgery. The medication will allow your ferret to live a normal life even though after 2 years on average, the tumor will continue to grow in general.
What I recommend is to change your ferret’s diet to a raw diet (not diabetic cat food!) and to choose daily medication to help him produce the glucose he will need, this is what works well for many ferret parents by treating their ferret with the steroid “Prednisolone” along with another medication called “Diazoxide”.
The other option for your ferret suffering from insulinoma is surgery to remove the cancerous part of your ferret’s pancreas, the tumor will usually come back to infect the rest of the pancreas left after surgery.
The last option to treat your ferret is chemotherapy, ask your veterinarian for advice, he will tell you more about this option.
The main thing to do after treatment is to monitor his blood glucose level daily and change his diet to a raw or whole prey + frankenprey diet while avoiding all sources of sugar.
4- Ferrets Heart Disease
Heart disease is more common in ferrets born in petmills and sold in pet stores such as Marshall’s…etc
This is often the result of bad and unethical ferret’s breeding which causes the predisposition to disease of the parents to be passed on to the ferret babies and malformations, especially of the internal organs, especially the heart, which induces a predisposition to heart disease in those ferrets not purchased from a passionate breeder who has previously selected the ferrets’ genes well before breeding.
Tumors, infections and certain treatments can also cause heart disease in ferrets, especially when the ferret is at an advanced age, from 5 or 6 years old, although heart problems can occur in ferrets of all ages.
Common heart disease in ferrets:
Muscular heart disease (Dilated Cardiomyopathy): this is the most common problem in ferrets and ends up causing heart failure when the heart muscle becomes enlarged and stretched and can no longer distribute blood throughout your ferret’s body.
Valvular heart disease: The valves that regulate blood flow in the veins and aortas of the ferret do not work properly
Electrical Heart Disease : When the heartbeat of the ferret is irregular.
Heartworm disease: Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, so talk to your veterinarian about what precautions to take when you take your ferret outside, and prescribe a monthly heartworm preventative.
Signs of Heart Diseases in ferrets:
Some of these symptoms can also be a sign of another health problem in your ferret, so don’t panic, don’t freak out and don’t rush to believe that it is a heart problem until you do an ultrasound or X-ray or with the stethoscope at the vet’s office to confirm your suspicions, here are the symptoms if a ferret has heart problems:
- Coughing caused by getting fluid into their lungs
- Purplish or pale gums.
- Rapid breathing ( too fast resting breathing rate more than 35 breaths / minute ) – important symptom (to count them, wait until after your ferret is asleep or lying down for at least 10 minutes, normally the number will be around 25 breaths/mn )
- Lack of energy ( severe lethargy ) , weakness in the hind & hind legs ) and chronic fatigue ( ferret doesn’t play anymore )
- Bloated belly ( your ferret will have a pear-shaped body when seen from above ( abdominal distention or abdominal enlargement from fluid accumulation ) .
- Increased sleepiness and dyspnea .
- Decreased appetite and anorexia or even weight gain in some cases .
- Collapsing caused by wobbliness or loss of full coordination of the body.
What to do when you suspect your ferret has a heart problem?
Again, you should take your ferret to his vet to confirm or deny the diagnosis and prescribe a treatment (Beta-blockers) that will in the case of congestive heart failure, regulate the heartbeat of your ferret.
I do not recommend that you use these medications with your ferret unless prescribed by his veterinarian, I will only mention them for educational purposes only.
Your ferret’s vet will prescribe him in case of heart disease medications like :
A good follow-up and a balanced diet (raw diet with chicken heart supplement for more taurine) will allow your ferret to live almost normally if he takes his daily treatment well and he will be able to continue living for a long time.
5- Irritable ( Inflammatory ) Bowel Disease ( IBD )
When the gastrointestinal tract ( stomach and intestines ) becomes chronically inflamed, it is a very common disease in ferrets and can quickly become fatal if left untreated.
This disease in ferrets occurs when the ferret’s immune system overreacts to an infection, allergy, or parasites in the ferret’s gut and this reaction will actually damage the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in chronic gastrointestinal disorders in ferrets.
Your ferret will become unable to absorb the nutrients from its food .
What causes IBD in ferrets?
- Untreated chronic viral infection
- Some strains of bacteria
- Food allergies when feeding kibble
- Repeating infections in the ferret’s intestines
- Bad bacteria in the intestines (when feeding spoiled food for example)
- Viral diseases like the flu and lately even Covid.
- Helicobacter that causes inflammation of the stomach leading to IBD
- An object stuck in your ferret’s intestine that has caused chronic inflammation (an x-ray of his abdomen will confirm if this is the case)
- A tumor in the intestines can also cause IBD.
Signs that your ferret has an IBD :
- Gastrointestinal disorders characterized by either vomiting or chronic diarrhea
- Partially digested food (the ferret will pass a grainy stool of food particulates)
- Change in stool color, consistency and frequency
- Weight loss
- Dull and thin coat that may fall out in patches
- Lack of interest in food
- Teeth Grinding caused by abdominal pain
What to do when you suspect your ferret has IBD?
IBD usually causes diarrhea in ferrets, so first make sure your ferret has access to fresh water at all times.
Then take your ferret to the vet, the sooner you take him to the vet, the sooner he will recover.
What to expect at the vet?
In this case too, the vet will do a blood test, urine test and your ferret’s feces to make sure it’s IBD.
The vet will prescribe antibiotics, an antihistamine or an immunosuppressant in case of supersensitivity. If the cause is a parasite, it will also be treated with an anti-parasitic.
Also take a sample of your ferret’s food to the vet, he will check if the cause is an allergy to an ingredient especially if you feed your ferret dry food, he may be allergic to wheat, soy, milk, artificial ingredients, or dyes.
Your ferret with IBD will have a treatment that may include
Azathioprine and the the corticosteroid ” Prednisone ” .
This is why I often recommend human quality meat ( easily digestible protein like limb and goat ) , frankenprey and raw diet to feed your ferrets.
If you feed your ferret dry food, consider changing your diet and avoid treats that contain sugar and keep him stress-free .
Ferrets unfortunately are known to suffer from multitudes of cancer, this is especially true when you buy your ferret from Marshall farms and pet stores in general and not from a breeder who has previously selected generations of healthy parents whose genes are not predisposed to cancer and other such diseases.
The most common types of ferrets cancer are :
- Pancreatic Cancer ( Insulinoma )
- Lymphoma & hemangiosarcoma ( Cancer of the lymphatic system or Blood cells cancer ) .
- Adrenal Cancer ( adrenal glands cancer )
- Liver cancer
- Bone cancer
- Skin cancer
- Spleen cancer ( Benign red blood cells cancer ).
Some Common Signs of cancer in ferrets :
Some ferrets ( ¼ ) show no symptoms and yet the vet will be able to diagnose cancer during a simple routine visit.
- Weight loss
- Hair loss
- Prostatic enlargement
- Lethargy and weakness ( acting tired all the time )
- Difficulty breathing
- Lack of appetite, ferret may refuse even his treats
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Difficult to wake up
- Swelling of the vulva
- Yellowish tinged skin
- Bloated abdomen
- Pawing at the mouth (sores on the lips of the ferret).
- Lymphoma can also cause adrenal disease and IBD
Only the veterinarian of your ferret with the help of ultrasound, hematology, biochemical profile, radiography or bone marrow analysis could confirm a diagnosis especially when it is cancer.
The following symptoms appear when a ferret has cancer, but they can also indicate any other disease and that your ferret does not have cancer, so please don’t freak out and even ferrets that have cancer and are undergoing treatment can live their lives normally.
What to expect at the vet?
If the cancer is found in one area, the cancer cells can be removed with surgery, otherwise, medical therapy, chemotherapy followed by radiation can be used to try to burn off the cancer cells and try to stop the tumor from growing.
Try not to make your ferret suffer too much if he is old by exposing him to harsh treatments for his age, prefer a minimal treatment that will just guarantee your ferret to continue the rest of his life without suffering too much.
7- Dental Diseases
Ferrets can have congenital dental problems, they are born with irregularly placed teeth or ferrets born with an abnormally short nose or acquired problems due to poor dental hygiene.
Ferrets can have many dental problems, here are the most common ones:
- Bad breath
- Tartar buildup (brown-colored teeth)
- Irritated gums and malocclusion
- Broken & chipped upper canines
- Mouth sores
- Periodontal disease
- Tooth decay
- Tooth Loss
- Dental abscesses
- The short maxilla and mandible
Signs of dental disease in ferrets:
- Difficulty eating or chewing food
- Food falling out of the ferret’s mouth
- Weight loss
- Red ,bleeding or/and Swollen Gums
- Food left in bowl
- Reluctance to eat
- Apparent broken tooth
- Discomfort while eating
- Yellowish or brown colored teeth
What causes dental problems in ferrets?
The number one cause is poor dental hygiene, so it’s important to brush your ferret’s teeth every now and then to remove food from between the teeth to prevent tooth decay and tartar build-up.
What to expect at the vet if your ferret has a dental problem
If it’s a congenital problem, such as misaligned teeth or protruding teeth and improper closure of the mouth, reconstructive surgery may be the only solution if your ferret can’t eat or close his mouth.
Otherwise, it’s just a tooth to remove, antibiotics may be or just scaling or disinfection of a dental abscess.
The dental problems of ferrets do not usually get worse and you can avoid them by taking care of your ferret’s oral hygiene, feeding him raw food and making sure that he does not chew hard objects that can break a tooth like bare cage raging .
The dangers of tartar for a ferret and how to avoid it?
Tartar can appear in ferrets older than one year and not normally before!! and when the ferret is about 5 years old and with all the accumulation of tartar due to poor dental hygiene and a bad diet (Industrial dry food).
He could start to develop inflammations in the gums, the bad bacteria can then easily reach the liver, the kidneys and even the heart of the ferret.
That’s why the ferret must be fed with raw diet because the fact of eating fresh meat and especially chewing the ligaments and raw meaty bones, will naturally clean his teeth and prevent tartar from accumulating and his teeth will stay sharp too.
To avoid your ferret the risk of anesthesia and dental scaling and polishing, you will just have to change his diet to raw and then just brush it from time to time so that your ferret avoids any dental problem.
8- Bladder ( Urolithiasis ) and kidney Stones
These are urinary crystals and uroliths , sort of small stones that form either in the bladder or kidneys of the middle-aged ferret ( 3 to 7 years ) , they are composed of minerals that the ferret absorbs in excess and can not get rid of it.
These stones are usually composed of sturvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate), calcium oxalate but also cystine, calcium hydrogen and brushite.
Uroliths are caused by metabolic and dietary factors that affect the acidity of the ferret’s blood
Signs your ferret have bladder or kidney stones:
- Cloudy and foul-smelly urine – Blood in the urine ( on its pee pad )
- Straining when urinating ( + teeth grinding on the pee pan )
- They try repeatedly to urinate and nothing comes out or just a small amount of pee!
- Swollen and painful abdomen
- Irritated belly button area
- Weakness and lack of energy
- Lack of appetite
- Vomiting and dehydration.
- Some pee outside the litter box ( pee accidents )
- Pain due to the rubbing of the uroliths against the urinary tract.
Your ferret can also have LUTI because the symptoms are about the same as those I just mentioned for bladder stones, your ferret can also vocalize pain when he tries to urinate and will not be able to!
What to do when you suspect your ferret has bladder stones?
Your ferret will never be able to get rid of these crystals and stones on his own because his urinary tract is too narrow and if you don’t take him to see a vet and follow a treatment he will just continue to suffer, stop feeding and risk anorexia n, even internal bleeding , serious bacterial infections , dehydration and death.
You must therefore quickly take your ferret to the vet so that he can confirm the diagnosis
How to avoid the formation of these stones in your ferret?
Some ferrets (Mill ferrets, Marshall ones) are genetically prone to stones, but as often, this problem also comes from the diet of your ferret, I speak obviously of dry food (kibble), not only these kibbles are not really made especially for ferrets, there are many ingredients not digestible by them in these kibbles, but especially, this diet will often dehydrate your ferret!
And if your ferret doesn’t drink too much water to compensate for this lack, which they don’t often do! And if your ferret doesn’t drink too much water to compensate for this lack, which they don’t often do, he won’t urinate regularly to release this excess of minerals that accumulate and form crystals, then bladder or kidney diet-related stones.
This does not happen when your ferret is fed raw diet because the meat contains a lot of water and your pet will constantly urinate and release those excess minerals and the stones will not have time to form in his bladder and kidneys.
You should also let your ferret out of the cage more often because jumping and running will help him mix the minerals and small crystals with his urine which will help him to release them before they grow. Also watch the amount of water your ferret drinks each day.
What to expect at the vet?
The vet will confirm the diagnosis of bladder stones or kidney stones with an X’ray and if the composition of the crystals makes them insoluble with medication, the vet will have to perform surgery to remove the stones from your ferret’s bladder.
A change of diet to raw, more play time and fluid therapy will be recommended to help your ferret avoid this problem in the future.
9- Parasites, mites and ticks
Ferrets can contract and become carriers of several parasites and bacteria, especially in their intestines, the most common intestinal parasites in ferrets are:
- Coccidiosis (Coccidia)
Signs that ferrets have intestinal parasites:
Generally, ferrets do not show any particular signs or symptoms when they have parasites, but sometimes, some ferrets have diarrhea with or without blood in the soft stool and these rare signs as well:
- Straining to defecate
- Prolapse of ferret’s rectum
- Dehydration due to diarrhea
- Dull coat and weight loss
- Sudden death (due to low immunity)
What to do when you suspect your ferret has parasites?
If your ferret shows any of the above symptoms, especially diarrhea, collect some fecal samples from your ferret, put them in a box and take your ferret and his stool samples to the vet.
The veterinarian will analyze your ferret’s fecal samples and if the diagnosis is confirmed, your ferret will be given a treatment.
The vet will also give you an idea of where the parasites are coming from so that you can avoid the source in the future and a thorough cleaning of the ferret’s cage, bedding, toys, bowls and playpen is recommended in this case to prevent the ferret from getting sick again.
I advise you to always take some fecal simples with you every time you take your ferret to the vet even for a simple check up.
What about heartworms in ferrets ( HWD )?
This is a parasite that the vet will detect with x-rays, usually transmitted by mosquitoes, and you will recognize it in your ferret if he has these symptoms
- Difficulty breathing
- Lethargy (decreased activity)
- Sudden death caused by heart failure, in weak and senior ferrets when the parasite was not discovered and treated in time
How to prevent your ferret from this parasite?
As for cats and dogs, heartworm prevention (imidacloprid and moxidectin) is also recommended for ferrets, especially if you live in a heartworm endemic area, ask your vet.
There are some who recommend giving ferrets Ivermectin and selamectin, but I think the FDA has not recommended them!
Ear mites in ferrets (Otodectes cynotis):
Almost all ferrets bought in pet stores have ear mites, all ferrets that have been through pet mills have ear mites. Unfortunately, you can only see them under a microscope and their detection is only possible if you regularly check your ferret’s ears.
It is recommended that you treat your ferret the same day you take it home, even as a precaution against infecting its cage, bedding and surroundings.
Signs of ear mites in ferrets:
Many ferrets show no visible symptoms when they have hermits, except perhaps:
- An infected ferret will produce more earwax.
- Will scratch itself and will become very itchy
- Lesions inside the ears
- Shaking its head
- Possible reddish brown material in the ear canal
- Hair loss around its ears is a force to scratch!
- Can have lethargy and even anemia
What to expect at the vet?
The vet will treat your ferret with cat and dog medication and then you will have to clean up your home, especially your ferret’s bedding. You will probably also have to treat your other pets, as they may be the source of the ear mites. Ask your vet for a safe flea treatment for your ferret, that’s why I often recommend to consult a vet who is used to treat ferrets.
Ticks in ferrets:
Outdoor ferrets can also easily get ticks, so check your ferrets ears often whenever you go outside with them or your cat or dog goes near them.
You will have to remove them using tweezers and kill them to prevent them from coming back to your ferret or even to you. It is very rare for a ferret to bring back ticks but who knows!!! check your ferret often when you come back from the park or even just the backyard.
If you remove a tick from your ferret, make sure you don’t leave its head attached to your pet, as this can create an infection for your ferret.
Unfortunately, ferrets can get influenza type A and B (human flu) and can also pass it on to humans. The flu state usually lasts 3 to 5 days or even a week in a ferret that has some complications.
Signs of influenza in ferrets:
- Your ferret will have a fever
- His breathing will be a little faster
- Ferrets may refuse to eat or eat less.
- Nasal and eyes discharge
What to do to prevent Influenza in ferrets?
It is very difficult to prevent your ferret from getting the seasonal flu, but you can try, especially if you have the flu yourself, to avoid infecting him
Wash your hands well when you have the flu before feeding your ferret.
During flu season, it’s a good idea to always disinfect your hands before you go near your ferret because even if you don’t have the flu yourself, you may have picked it up from shaking hands with a colleague and will easily give it to your ferret.
Avoid playing with your ferret as much as possible until you’ve recovered from the flu yourself. Separate the ferret with the flu from the other ferret if you have one.
11- Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) and Rabies in ferrets
CDV is an incurable viral disease in ferrets and that’s why many veterinarians recommend vaccinating ferrets once a year against it.
The vaccines used are not approved for ferrets but you can ask your vet to use Nobivac PuppyDPv vaccine or Canarypox-vectored virus vaccine, they have been reported safe for ferrets, otherwise, your ferret may have an allergic reaction and some conventional vaccines may also cause seroconversion and diseases for your ferret.
Signs of Canine Distemper in ferrets:
- Mild conjunctivitis
- Green or yellowish discharge from the eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden death
Do I really need to vaccinate my ferret against CDV?
The vaccine is mostly useful for ferret babies (kits at 8,11 and 14 weeks) and from the second year onwards, if you vaccinate your ferret against CDV, he may have anaphylactic reactions (benadryl can prevent these reactions if taken 20 minutes before the injection) such as difficulty breathing, collapsing, confusion and depression…etc
Do not vaccinate your ferret if you can keep your ferret away from your dog even if vaccinated against CDV and away from dogs with unknown vaccine status to avoid the risk that a dog that has already contracted this virus could pass it to your ferret.
So don’t bring stranger dogs into your ferret and don’t take your ferret into a park where there are dogs.
What about rabies in ferrets ?
If you can guarantee that your ferret will never come in contact with a dog, another infected ferret, or any other animal that can transmit the virus to your ferret, then you may not want to give your ferret rabies vaccines.
Signs of Rabies in ferrets:
- A sudden change in behavior
- Fear of water (Hydrophobia)
- Anxiety and aggression (biting)
- Abundant salivation
- Loss of balance and difficulty moving (progressive paralysis).
- Death in a few days
Ferrets are usually vaccinated against rabies from 3 months old.
You may think that ferrets are animals that never come home from the vet’s! But this is not true, especially if you buy your ferret from a breeder who is passionate about it, and you feed it with raw diet and especially you keep it in a large cage and in free roaming.
But this will not guarantee that your ferret will not get sick, that’s why I insist that you put a few hundred dollars ($300 to $500) aside in case your ferret gets sick, so you can act fast and sometimes a ferret health budget really saves their life.