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Health Recommendations for Ferrets

Physical Exam: Annual examination is recommended for all ferrets up to age 4. After age 4, we recommend a physical exam every year.

Vaccinations: Ferrets should be vaccinated for Ferret distemper virus and Rabies. The initial series for young ferrets is Purevax Ferret Distemper Vaccine at 8, 12, and 16 weeks, then annual; Rabies at 16 weeks then annual.

Diet: Growing ferrets should be fed a premium quality kitten food or ferret food. Adult ferrets may be fed premium adult cat or ferret food, depending on their weight. Small amounts of fresh fruit, vegetables, breads, or treats are permissible, but should be no more than 10% of the total diet.

Parasite Control: A fecal parasite check should be done on all new ferrets, and any ferret with gastro-intestinal disease or unexplained weight loss. Ferrets are very susceptible to Heartworm disease, and a single worm can be fatal due to the small size of a ferret's heart. Heartworm preventive is recommended. We use feline Heartgard for the ferrets from April to December each year; a test is not necessary, as no available test is reliable in ferrets.

Housing: Ferrets should be confined when not directly supervised, as they readily get themselves into all imaginable sorts of trouble. They are easily, lost, squared, locked in rooms or closets by accident; and will try to eat anything that will fit in their mouths. Multilevel cages with opportunity to exercise, burrow, eat and drink are appropriate. The cage should have a solid bottom (not wire), and be large enough to accommodate a litter box.

Common problems:

                        Diarrhea: Ferrets are very prone to GI upset, so watch your pet for any liquid feces. Since ferrets are small, it is easy for them to become dehydrated, so any issue with diarrhea should be addressed as soon as possible.

                        Intestinal Foreign Bodies: Since ferrets love to chew on everything, it is common for young ferrets to become obstructed due to an intestinal foreign body. This is why it is very important to remove any small or eatable items from your ferrets' environment. 

                        Parasites: Similar to dogs and cats, ferrets can contract a variety of external and internal parasites. Your ferret should be examined at least once a year by one of our veterinarians; you should also prove a stool sample during your per's exam so it can be checked for internal parasites. 

                        Tumors or Cancer: Ferrets develop cancer relatively quickly; early detection is very important for survival, this is another reason a yearly exam with one of our veterinarian is so important. Ferrets are prone to caners like insulinoma (cancer of the pancreas), andrenal gland tumors, mass cell tumors of the skin, and lymphosarcoma (cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphatic white blood cells).

                        Heart disease: Unfortunately, ferrets commonly develop heart disease due to cardiomyopathy, normally occurring when they are over 3 years old. Clinical signs of heart disease include weakness or lethargy, loss of coordination, anorexia, coughing, and distended abdomen. 

Enrichment toys for your ferret:

  • Dryer hose
  • Empty paper bags
  • straw mats and baskets
  • Food treats in plastic bottle or egg carton
  • Telephone books
  • Toilet paper/paper towel tubes
  • Ping pong balls in water
  • Hiding toys in sandbox
  • Suspended ping pong or plastic ball or string
  • Paper bag filled with crumple paper
  • Cardboard box filled with soil, rice, ping pong balls, hay, or crumpled pieces of paper