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COVID-19 update: Client advice on what to do during the Coronavirus pandemic

Ferrets

We can care for these inquisitive, playful pets

  • General Health Checks and Preventative Care
  • Neutering and Reproductive Control
  • Vaccinations

General Health Checks and Preventative Care

Ferrets are very playful and curious pets that require a lot of attention from their owners. Domestic ferrets are very intelligent are better kept in groups of two or more. They sleep a lot and are naturally more active at dawn and dusk.

Ferrets should have a yearly health check. This would include a complete physical examination, dental exam, evaluation of husbandry and diet and an eye and ear exam. We will also review their preventative medicine plan.

Ferrets are very susceptible to canine distemper. They should be vaccinated against canine distemper and the current recommendation is for a yearly booster based on the epidemiology of some large outbreaks of this disease.

Ferrets can also be vaccinated against rabies but this is only needed if they are travelling abroad.

Ferrets do not need routine worming. Internal worms are very rare. The only external parasite seen commonly is the ear mite. Occasional fleas are seen when they live with a dog or a cat. Routine flea treatment should not be necessary.

Neutering and Reproductive Control

Ferrets become sexually active in the spring as the day lengthens. This is often altered by artificial light. Females come into oestrus ready to ovulate and stay in that state until mated. If not mated the hormones associated with being in oestrus will cause anaemia leading to the death of a high percentage of these ferrets. This is a problem we are commonly presented with in the summer months.

Traditionally ferrets were spayed to prevent this problem. However both spayed female ferrets and castrated male ferrets develop cancer of the adrenal glands. The age of onset depends on the age of neutering. Ferrets in North America are often neutered as young as 8 weeks old. These ferrets often develop adrenal cancer before the age of 3. In the UK ferrets were more commonly neutered at 12 weeks old with the onset of adrenal cancers seen after the age of 3. In the UK adrenal disease is often not diagnosed with the cause being attributed to “old age” whereas in the USA it was happening in much younger ferrets as they are neutered at a younger age and was more likely to be investigated.

We have been using the hormone implant in ferrets since 2010 and seen a dramatic decrease in the incidence of adrenal cancer. Additionally we have not seen any side effects in any of the hundreds of ferrets who have had the hormone implant.

If there are any questions about ferret reproduction please contact us and we will try to answer your query.

Vaccinations

Ferrets are very susceptible to canine distemper. It is very important that they are vaccinated against canine distemper. A few years ago there were some large outbreaks of canine distemper in ferret rescue centres. This allowed the effectiveness of several vaccination strategies to be studied. The current recommendation is for a yearly booster with an effective ferret vaccine. Some of the available brands of canine distemper vaccine were found to be less effective.

Ferrets can also be vaccinated against rabies but this is only needed if they are travelling abroad.

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