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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 6 months.

Vaccination: Ferrets should be vaccinated for Canine Distemper Virus and Rabies. The initial series for young ferrets is CDV at 8, 12 and 16 weeks, then annual; Rabies at 14 or 18 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 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, squashed, 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:

Diseases: Ferrets are susceptible to the human influenza virus. Try not to expose your ferret to anyone with flu or severe cold symptoms. Typical symptoms in ferrets include sneezing, coughing, loss of appetite and energy, and fever.

A very contagious intestinal virus is responsible for a disease called "green slime diarrhea" for lack of a better name. This disease can be fatal if not treated aggressively. We recommend not visiting the pet-store ferrets unless you change clothes and wash thoroughly before handling your own ferret, and don’t allow your ferret contact with other ferrets of uncertain health status.

Ferrets are prone to several types of tumors. Lymphoma, a cancer of lymph nodes or other lymphatic tissues, can affect ferrets of any age, and can have variable symptoms. Older ferrets commonly develop Insulinomas, which cause dangerously low blood sugar, and adrenal tumors, which can cause hair loss, genital swelling and urinary obstruction, and abdominal distention.

Other disorders occasionally encountered include intestinal obstruction, often from small pieces of rubber or plastic; heart disease; dental disease; ear mites and other skin parasites.

Additional Information: The internet has information both accurate and inaccurate. Two sites worth checking are and American Ferret Association

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