Most Common Ferret Health Issues

Ferrets are known to be one of the most active and playful animals. Either in the wild or kept as a family pet, ferrets thrive on interacting with humans and other animals. These are the reasons why over the years, their popularity as pets have multiplied. But like all animals, ferrets are also susceptible to a number of ferret health issues, diseases, and sickness. Learning the different ferret health issues that can put a ferret at risk is crucial in maximizing its life expectancy.

common ferret health issues

Photo: Tetting | Flickr

If unusual behavior is noticed, immediately have your pet checked by a veterinarian. Below are some unusual behaviors that you should always look out for.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Decreased in playing time
  • Vomiting
  • Weight and Fur loss
  • No or little excrement

Although considered as healthy pets, most ferrets will encounter some form of sickness in their lifetime.

Common ferret health issues that ferrets and owners have to deal with.

Flu or Cold

Like people, ferrets can also have runny nose, which may come from a member of the family who is also infected, or from another infected ferret. This is one of the minor ferret health issues. If there is another family pet suspected to be a carrier, separate their cages and make sure to instantly give proper medicine to avoid contamination and transmission. If the symptoms are still evident for three days, it is best to see your vet.


It is a fact that ferrets love to nip and bite because of its playful nature. Although rabies is very seldom among ferrets, vaccination is done as a precautionary step. In order to be always on the safe side, rabies vaccination is a must to protect both humans and ferrets. This vaccination should be administered annually from three months of age.

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Cancer is one of the most common causes of deaths and illnesses to ferrets. Ferret cancer develops from various conditions and reasons.  A study shows that approximately 70 to 90 percent of ferrets are affected in some point of their lives. To minimize the probability of developing cancer, make sure to have your pet checked regularly for cancer prevention or early detection.

Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper is a fatal and terribly contagious disease that is also common among ferrets. This disease can infect ferrets for up to 14 days, and is usually fatal when untreated for longer periods.

Canine distemper symptoms include rashes or red spots on the chin and around the belly, sudden vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite, and dramatic decrease of energy. Immediately have your ferret checked by a veterinarian if these symptoms are discovered. Ferret may enter a state of coma if proper medication is not administered immediately.

To prevent Canine distemper, ferret should have its first vaccine at six to eight weeks of age. A follow up vaccine must be given after three months. Regular shots must also be given every year.

Intestinal Blockage

This disease occurs when a foreign object is stuck in a ferret’s intestines due to accidental swallowing. This health risk is attributed to the fact that ferrets are playful and sneaky little creatures that tend to swallow anything they like or feel attached to.

Some of the symptoms displayed include loss of appetite, vomiting after water intake, and irregular bowel movement. If you suspect that your pet has intestinal blockage, immediately bring it to a veterinarian and ask for an x-ray, which will determine if surgery is needed to remove the foreign object from the ferret’s body.

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Wound Infection

Although not really a disease, wound infection is a health risk that many ferrets experience. Ferrets can sometimes get wounded by it playful nature, either by interaction with humans or playing with other animals. When playing with larger animals like dogs and cats, ferrets can easily get scratches or bites due to its curiosity. It is important to treat even the smallest wound or scratch to avoid infecting the ferret’s tiny body. For deep wound and cuts, a veterinarian visit is a must to control bleeding and close the laceration. In some cases, antibiotics are given, and antibacterial gel must be applied on the infected area for several days.

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