About Ferrets : general health


colds and influenza







skin and coat





Distemper is a viral disease normally associated with dogs, and is 100% fatal in ferrets. Inoculation is essential at 12 weeks of age and annually from then on. On veterinary advice received, innoculation prior to 12 weeks is ineffective in ferrets.

SYMPTOMS: Early symptoms are often similar to respiratory infection and can be mistaken for snuffles or influenza, weepy eyes and nose may follow. If your ferret shows any of these symptoms, consult your vet immediately.


Ferrets can't catch the common cold, but can catch the more serious "flu" (influenza), so if you are ill make sure to take precautions and limit your ferrets exposure to germs, and take them to the vet if needed.

SYMPTOMS: Resemble those in humans, ie. runny eyes and nose, high temperature, loss of appetite and drowsiness.
If your ferret gets the flu keep it warm, keep up fluids, and away from stressful situations, consult your vet.


If your ferret is exercised on hard ground, nails should remain at a convenient length.

Your ferret's nails will need to be trimmed when they lengthen, preferably before they start to curl as by then they are way too long. This is easily done with a pair of animal nail clippers. (Be careful not to cut the quick, this is the blood vessel seen at the base of the nail. If cut it causes pain and bleeds a lot. Ferrets which are not exercised on hard ground will need their nails cut once or twice a month depending on the ferret.


Check your ferret's feet pads for any irritation, not only will this be a health check, but it will also get your ferret used to its feet being handled ...most ferrets enjoy having their feet pads rubbed.


Your ferret's external ear can be cleaned with a damp cloth. Do not probe into the ear canal with cotton buds. If there is a build-up of wax consult your vet. Ferrets are also prone to ear mites which are parasites found in the ears of cats and dogs.

SYMPTOMS: Excessive scratching of the ears.
Ear mite drops are available from your Vet, or see "Revolution Treatment" under our Services section. Any apparent loss of balance warrants an emergency visit to your Vet as it may signify an ear infection which is very dangerous in ferrets.


Ferrets, like most pets, are susceptible to fleas. Fleas cause irritation and are extremely annoying to your ferret. Flea spray can be used on your ferret providing it is over 12 weeks of age. Flea powders are usually ineffective against fleas.

"FRONTLINE" flea spray is the recommended safe and effective choice, as is "Revolution" as detailed under our Services section.


Your ferret's teeth are very important for its general health. Feeding ferrets solely on mushy food or foods which do not require chewing can result in dental disease.

The teeth of the ferret are those of a carnivore. The dental formula in the adult is I3, C1, P3, M1 on the upper jaw and I3, C1, P3, M2 on the lower jaw. The formula gives the number of teeth on each side of the mouth classified as either incisors, canines, premolars or molars.

Ferrets, like all animals, can have trouble with their teeth. They can develop holes or they can have broken teeth, but the most common problem in pet ferrets is the accumulation of plaque and associated gum disease.
Plaque accumulates on the teeth and if not cleaned away it can form tartar. The accumulation of plaque can also cause gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis can cause periodontal disease, and if not treated can lead to loss of teeth.

Preventative Therapy

Plaque accumulation, gingivitis and periodontal disease can be prevented in animals by;

1. Brushing the teeth with a toothbrush (considered impractical by most owners)

2. Feeding a diet which requires chewing.

Commercial kitten biscuits can assist with teeth cleaning for most ferrets. They can assist in removing some of the tartar which has accumulated on the teeth and assist in preventing further tartar from developing. Raw chicken necks or chicken wings, weaner mice and such like given daily are an excellent source of food whilst cleaning teeth at the same time. Raw chunky meat in the diet also helps to keep the teeth clean and large RAW mutton or lamb chop bones can also be given to ferrets for dental hygiene purposes. (Make sure that they are too big to swallow and do not leave them go smelly if they are not eaten).

As most ferrets will only see a veterinarian once per year, it is best that the owner makes sure to check the teeth at regular intervals.

The cutting of canine teeth to prevent biting, which has been performed in the past, can only be described as barbaric. It can result in tooth abscesses and would be a constant source of pain for the animal.


Ferrets don't suffer from intestinal worms like cats and dogs. It's probably because of the short transit time between the mouth and other end in ferrets which prevents the various types of worms from being able to survive. Do, however, refer to the section on "heartworm" as ferrets are susceptible to this parasite.


Check your ferret's skin and coat for any parasites or sores, especially if you have more than one ferret.
You can bathe your ferret, but try not to do this too often as bathing tends to upset the oil balance and dry out the coat. Use ferret or small animal shampoo. Human shampoo is no good for your ferret as it irritates the skin due to different pH levels. (Fresh bedding or daily contact with the greenery in your yard - under supervision of course, is another very effective way of reducing ferret odour).


Ferrets do not handle heat well at all and they must be kept cool at any cost during the heat of summer. Temperatures above 28o can be fatal.

Some examples of keeping ferrets cool are Techni Ice, frozen bottles of water for the ferret to lie against, draping shelters with wet towels or wet hessian bags and, of course, if at all possible bring them inside.

Keep ferrets in cool shaded areas and never leave your ferret in a closed car or a metal cage on a hot day.
A ferret suffering from heat stroke will become dehydrated and very lethargic, and will very quickly need the services of a veterinarian if it is to survive. As a ferret does not either sweat or pant it has no way of cooling itself down, therefore it is most important that you provide a cool living area for your pet.


Shock can be caused by loud sudden noise, being chased by a predator or any similar sudden movement. Please be aware that shock may not be instant and a delay from the time of the incident to the time of the reaction may occur.

SYMPTOMS: Can vary from panting and lethargy to a catatonic state of rigidity, depending on the
depth of the shock. If your ferret suffers from shock, place it in a warm quiet spot, speak softly and stroke it very gently. Recovery is normally quite fast after pampering and TLC.


Ferrets are susceptible to heart worm, which is a parasite transported by mosquitoes. Diagnosis and treatment are very difficult, but prevention is possible and you may like to discuss this topic with your vet. Refer "Revolution Treatment" under our Services section.