Housing Recommendations:

  • Cages: 2×4 feet footprint minimum. Additional space needed with multiple ferrets. Cages with several levels are ideal to provide more surface area to climb and play.
  • Litterbox: Provided a special “corner box” in one corner of the cage & secure the box in the corner .Use paper liter such as Care Fresh Bedding or Yesterday’s News.
    • DO NOT use cat litter due to risk of illness if consumed.
  • Bedding: Provide separate sleeping quarters. You can use towels, old t-shirts, or purchase a “ferret hammock.” If bedding appears damaged replace as needed.
  • Exercise/socialization: Ferrets need to be supervised when out of the cage at all times. They are notorious for getting into trouble if allowed to freely roam.
    • Ferrets love to play in boxes, run through tubes, and hide under blankets.
    • Sturdy rubber dog toys intended for small breed dogs, or toys with squeakers, usually appeal to ferrets.
    • Supervise your ferret closely to be sure it doesn’t consume toy parts.

Diet:

  • Main Diet:
    • There are many ferret diets on the market.
    • We recommend feeding a high protein/low carbohydrate ferret food, such as Evo, Wysong, Marshalls, Totally Ferret, or 8-in-1.
    • Any dietary changes should be made gradually to prevent GI tract upset.
  • Laxative:
    • Laxatone/Ferretone can be given to your ferret 2-3 times a week to help prevent hairballs, which are more common during shedding season.
  • Treats:
    • Treats can be important for training and rewarding good behavior.
    • Because ferrets are carnivorous you should avoid treats high in sugars, fruits/vegetables, and high carbohydrate table scraps. They are not adapted to processing such foods.
    • Treats should be primarily meat-based. Small amounts of plain chicken or eggs can be offered on occasion.

Grooming:

  • Nails: Ferrets need their nails trimmed regularly. You can do this at home, or bring your pet in for a technician appointment.
  • Bathing: Once a month with a pet-safe shampoo is acceptable. Bathing more often will remove natural oils from the coat and may cause dry, itchy skin.
  • Ear cleaning: Ferret ears need to be cleaned occasionally.
    • We recommend cotton balls since cotton swabs/q-tips can cause damage to the ear drum
  • Teeth cleaning:
    • Tartar build-up on their teeth is common in ferrets.
    • If you accustom your ferret to having its teeth brushed (with a pet-safe toothpaste) at an early age and brush the teeth regularly, you can help prevent tarter build-up and the need for more aggressive dental cleaning procedures later in life.
    • Use pet-safe toothpastes!

Physical Examination:

  • Initial Exam:
    • Initial post-purchase physical exams are highly recommended.
    • During the exam we will check the teeth, eyes, ears, heart, and lungs, and palpate the abdomen.
    • New ferrets may need to finish the initial vaccination series started by the store/breeder. This typically includes a rabies vaccine and distemper vaccine boosters.
    • It will also be recommended that your ferret be checked for internal parasites and ear mites.
  • Annual Exams:
    • Yearly examinations are recommended along with vaccine boosters as appropriate.
    • Blood testing may also be recommended.

 

  • Senior Ferrets:
    • Beginning at the age of 3 years, it is recommended that yearly blood work be completed at annual exams to better evaluate health and screen for common diseases.
    • We may also recommend bringing your ferret in every 6 months for exams because of the high risk of certain genetic diseases in older pet ferrets.

Common Medical Problems:

  • Foreign Body:
    • This is common in young ferrets and ferrets not supervised.
    • Signs include vomiting, retching, reduced or absent appetite, and straining to defecate or not passing stool.
    • The intestinal tract may become fully or partially blocked, causing a serious medical emergency that could require surgery.
    • The most commonly ingested foreign bodies are remote control buttons, felt or rubber padding, rubber-soled shoes and shoe linings, small plastic toys and their parts, pencil erasers, foam or stuffing from stuffed animals/pillows, hairballs, and cherry pits.
  • Influenza:
    • Signs include sneezing, coughing, fever, and lethargy.
    • There is no treatment for the virus but ferrets may benefit from supportive care while the virus runs its course.
    • Treatment may include antibiotics (for secondary infections) and fluid therapy/assisted feeding if the ferret has stopped eating.
    • This flu virus is considered zoonotic, which means that it can be caught from people or contracted by human family members.
  • Adrenal Gland Disease:
    • Signs include hair loss over the tail and pelvis/hip area of the body, dry itchy skin, a swollen vulva in female ferrets, and difficulty urinating (due to enlargement of the prostate gland) in male ferrets.
    • Presumptive diagnosis is usually by observation of characteristic signs on physical exam.
    • Treatment for adrenal gland disease involves either surgical removal of the affected adrenal gland or hormonal injections/implants.
  • Insulinoma:
    • Signs include lethargy, hind end weakness, decreased appetite, chronic weight loss, difficulty waking the ferret after sleep, drooling, pawing at the mouth, seizures, coma and sometimes death.
    • Signs are caused by low blood sugar due to overproduction of insulin
    • Insulinoma is often diagnosed with yearly screening bloodwork in middle-aged to older ferrets.
    • Treatment includes oral medications for the rest of the ferret’s life or surgical removal/debulking of the mass.
      • Surgery, although usually successful, may need to be repeated in the future since these masses have the propensity to rapidly regrow.
  • Epizootic catarrhal enteritis:
    • Signs include explosive diarrhea (possibly green), anorexia, and lethargy.
    • This disease is extremely contagious between ferrets, and usually coincides with the introduction of a new ferret in the household.
    • Treatment is includes fluids, anti-diarrheal medications, and antibiotics.
    • This virus can be extremely dangerous in very young and very old ferrets, and usually requires medical attention.

 

  • Dental plaque:
    • Build-up of dental plaque is very common in ferrets.
    • Some ferrets will tolerate regular teeth brushing with a pet-safe toothpaste.
    • Veterinary dental cleaning may be recommended in some animals with plaque build-up. It is usually performed prophylactically to avoid severe periodontal disease. Ferrets must be anesthetized for this procedure to allow for thorough cleaning.

 

  • Skin tumors:
    • Skin tumors are fairly common in older ferrets. Although they tend to be benign, it is recommended that you bring your ferret in for assessment of any skin tumors.