Archive for January, 2022

Monitoring Your Ferret’s Health – Disease Prevention

January 11th, 2022

As a rule, ferrets spend a majority of their day asleep and the rest of their time burning off incredible amounts of energy. They are extremely frisky and curious animals, which is a huge part of their charm and attraction as pets. As a pet owner, you should be aware that ferrets can contract illnesses and diseases that, if left untreated, can prove to be fatal. The important thing is to know your pet and be able to recognize if something seems amiss.

Disease and illness can strike and spread rapidly in ferrets, thanks to the body’s high rate of metabolism. Understanding some of the more common diseases that can affect your ferret is the fist step in keeping your pet healthy, and catching a potentially serious condition early on. If you spot any signs or behavior that seems uncustomary for your ferret, your best course of action is to take it to the veterinarian for a full examination. In some cases, time is the key to treating your ferret. The earlier you catch an illness or disease, the better chance your ferret has of recovery.

Like you or me, ferrets can develop colds, which are characterized by the usual coughing, sneezing, and runny nose. Luckily, this can easily and quickly be treated through drinking plenty of water. Rest is very important for fighting off viruses, and because your ferret naturally sleeps a lot anyway, it is one step ahead already. Monitor your ferret closely to ensure that the cold doesn’t develop into something worse.

Some of the more common ailments that can inflict ferrets are:

Intestinal Blockages: Ferrets love to chew on anything they can find. This, in itself, can be quite entertaining unless a piece of plastic, material, rubber, or sponge is swallowed. Any foreign object can become trapped in the intestines, which will interfere with digestion and defecation. Often, older ferrets will develop hairballs that can lead to the same condition. In the case of an intestinal blockage, your ferret will show the following signs: loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy. An intestinal blockage usually has to be removed by surgery.

Heart Disease: Middle aged and older ferrets can become susceptible to heart disease. You may notice persistent coughing and shortness of breath. Unfortunately, this condition cannot be cured and it will eventually progress to the point of death.

Hypoglycemia (Insulinoma): This condition afflicts ferrets usually after they are 2 years old. An insulinoma is a tumor located in the pancreas. As it grows, it causes the pancreas to produce an excess of insulin, which, in turn, causes the blood sugar level to drop. If this happens, your ferret will seem lethargic and sleep more than usual. You may notice the hind legs grow weak and that your ferret is producing an abundance of saliva. If untreated, your ferret can slip into a coma and die. This condition is usually treated with corticosteroids.

Adrenal Disease: This condition occurs when the adrenal glands begin to grow at an excessive rate and excrete too much hormone. Your ferret will start to lose its hair and scratch a lot. If you own a female ferret, you may notice that her vulva will become swollen. This can affect ferrets around 2 to 3 years of age. In order to correct this condition, surgery is usually required.

Aleutian Disease (Parvovirus): This is a very serious disease that affects the nervous system, liver, bladder, and kidneys. A ferret can be afflicted for 12 to 24 months without displaying any symptoms. When the symptoms do show up, they are very distinct. You will see tremors in your ferret’s head, weakness in the hind legs, extreme listlessness, and less frequent urination and defecation.

All pets can be susceptible to illnesses and diseases. By managing your ferrets diet and hygiene, regularly monitoring its health, and watching out for any signs of distress or sickness, you will have a good chance of keeping your ferret healthy. Of course, no amount of prevention can prevent all illnesses, and so, at the first sign of illness, always check with your veterinarian.