Ferret Vet Care at MetroPet
Why you can trust us with your ferret:
Dr. Alice starting working as a ferret vet in 2009, when she joined the staff at All Creatures Veterinary Care in Centre Hall, PA. Since then she has attended conferences and continuing education sessions all over the country to solidify herself as one of the best ferret vets in the area. She is a member of the Association of Exotic Mammalian Veterinarians, to keep her at the forefront of ferret vet medicine.
History: The ferret is a descendant of the European polecats, and has been used for pest control for thousands of years. You can see this hunting behavior if you’ve ever seen a ferret play with a toy mouse or snake.
Feeding: Ferrets are obligate carnivores (like cats), meaning that they must eat almost entirely meat to maintain good health. Vets used to recommend kitten food due to a lack of options, but now a good quality commercial ferret diet will give your ferret every nutrient that it needs to thrive. Ferrets need to eat several times a day in order to maintain proper blood sugar levels. Therefore, if a ferret stops eating or starts throwing up or having diarrhea, it is critical to call us immediately to have them examined by one of our veterinarians.
Housing: Ferrets are intelligent hunters and need a lot of stimulation to be happy. They do best in large, solid bottomed wire cages with lots of playground elements and non-chewable toys (see below). They need fresh water and frequent litter box changes. Ferrets have a natural musky smell, and so if you are sensitive to smell, a ferret might not be the best pet for you. Frequent bathing can lessen this smell, but too much bathing can lead to skin conditions.
General health of Ferrets:
Prevention: Ferrets, like all mammals, are susceptible to rabies. Vaccination against rabies is legally required for all ferrets in Cuyahoga and many other counties in Ohio. In addition, ferrets should be vaccinated against distemper (which they can get from dogs). Human influenza virus can also infect ferrets, and so frequent hand washing if you are sick is important. Ferrets can also get heartworm disease, and, like cats, there is no treatment. 12-month prevention is the only way to protect against ferret heartworm disease. Call us for our recommendations.
Examinations: In addition to vaccinations, ferrets need to be examined by one of our veterinarians at least every year until age 4, and then twice a year after age 5. During this exam, we will screen for parasites, and check for signs of diseases common to ferrets, making sure that they are in optimal health for their age.
Ferret Specific Health Issues:
GI issues: Ferrets are small animals, and so any weight loss, decrease in appetite or vomiting/diarrhea is a much bigger deal than with larger pets. Blood sugar in ferrets can crash relatively quickly, and so if they stop eating, start vomiting, or have diarrhea, then you need to call us right away. Ferrets are chewers, and it is not uncommon for young ferrets to eat something that they shouldn’t and get a block in their intestines, therefore it is crucial to keep small objects away from ferrets.
Cancers: Ferrets are susceptible to a number of cancers, including insulinomas and adrenal gland tumors. Signs of these cancers could be losing hair, weight loss, acting confused or stumbling, but many disease symptoms are not obvious, and could only be seen in a veterinary exam or in blood work. There are a number of treatments that we can do, including surgery and hormone injections or implants, which have been shown to greatly improve the quality of life for ferrets that develop these cancers, even reversing the symptoms entirely in some cases.
Heart Disease: Ferrets are also prone to heart disease once they are adults. Signs of this disease start very subtly, and can really only be discovered in a veterinary exam.
Ferret Services at MetroPet:
- Preventative Care Examinations
- Same day ER visits for Established Clients
- Ferret Distemper and Rabies Vaccinations
- Lupron Injections
- Deslorelin Implants
- Routine and emergency Surgery (Traditional and Laser)
- Medical Boarding
- Ferret Dental Care and Dental Surgery
- Parasite Prevention/Flea Control
Ferret Illness Signs to Look For
Ferret illnesses can take many forms, here are some symptoms that you should NOT ignore:
- Loose or soft stools
- Blood in the urine or stool
- Loss of appetite or change in eating/drinking/pooping schedule
- Weight loss
- Labored breathing, sneezing, or coughing
- Change in behavior and body language (hunching, staying in the corner)
- Losing hair/bald patches
- Itchy ears
- Poor coat grooming