Ferret Diseases: Canine Distemper

One of the most common diseases in ferrets is Canine Distemper, which is a very serious and contagious condition that needs proper medical attention. In many countries like the USA, this disease is treated by a vaccine called Fervac-D.


Ferret Diseases: Canine Distemper

Photo: Barbara Carlson|Flickr

Vaccine Schedule

Ferrets continue to be one of the most demanded animals kept as a family pet all over the world. Unfortunately, many of these friendly animals die due to improper care that leads to developing various health issues such as Canine Distemper.

To avoid this problem, owners must get their pet vaccinated and strictly follow the recommended schedule of one shot when it reaches 6-8 weeks, 10 to 12 weeks and 14 to 16 weeks old. This schedule must be followed to make sure that the vaccine will work with maximum effects. After completing this schedule, a once per year booster shot must be given to maintain health and minimize the risk of developing other diseases.

Allergic Reactions

Although considered as a very effective vaccine, Fervac-D gained negative comments due to side effects such as allergic reaction. As a result, some vets now prefer using another canine distemper vaccine called PureVax. PureVax is also administered using the same vaccination schedule. The only difference is that this new vaccine is said not to cause any side effects.


After being exposed to the virus that causes this disease, a ferret will show various symptoms that are most easily detected. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • A dry cough during the initial stages. A dry cough will eventually turn into a wet cough and happens more frequently. Your pet will also show a lack of energy and becomes unfocused during this stage.
  • Diarrhea – you will observe frequent bowel movement. Most of the time, the poop will be watery.
  • Extreme thirst – your pet will become more thirsty even if does not engage in various activities. It is very important to make sure that its basin is always filled with fresh and clean water.
  • Cross-eyed look – aside from being unable to focus, your pet’s eyes appear to be crossed and unable to focus directly.
  • Inactivity – this is one of the most telling signs due to the fact that ferrets are very active and playful. When infected, your pet will prefer to sit or lie down in one area in its cage instead of running around and being curious
  • Rashes and skin allergies epically in the chin area
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When any of these symptoms are observed, it is very important to bring your pet to a vet for proper treatment immediately. If proper medical attention is disregarded, your pet will eventually develop vomiting, convulsion, and quickly fall into a coma. Furthermore, immediate medical care is mandatory due to the fact that this disease is highly contagious especially for other domesticated animals in your household.


After Care

Canine distemper is indeed a very serious disease that commonly leads to death without proper medical attention. Fortunately, with the advancement of science and medicines, there are now proven and effective vaccines that prevent and treat this terrible disease. Aside from strictly following the vaccine schedule, there are also effective ways to make sure that your pet stays healthy and free of canine distemper.

  • Proper diet – Ferrets are obligate carnivores, which means that they need a steady supply of meat products to maintain proper Make sure always to serve fresh and clean meat to prevent bacterial infections.
  • Water – Ferrets must always have a steady supply of fresh water especially after doing tiring activities. Ferrets are very active and love to spend their energy on various activities that need constant hydration.
  • Play Time – To keep up with their high energy, ferrets must be given daily time for both indoor and outdoor activities. They must be let out of their cages for a few hours each day to explore their surrounding or stretch their legs. This is very important to maintain proper health and prevent inactivity.
  • Human Interaction – Ferrets love to interact and play with humans, especially with their owners. Owners must be able to provide a few moments each day to interact with their pet. Interactions can be as simple as back rubs or letting the ferret sit on the lap.
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