Ferrets are affectionate, playful, fun creatures that tend to live between 6 and 10 years. Here are some of the most important details to know about ferret health and how to promote the best health in your ferret:
- Ferret diet – A healthy ferret diet should be high in fats and proteins while being low in carbohydrates. Ferrets can eat wet or dry food, as well as natural, raw whole prey diets. Supplements can also be helpful to promoting optimal ferret health and activity levels.
- Caring for ferrets at home – It’s recommended that ferrets are kept in open, well-ventilated, multilevel cages and that they are allowed out at least 4 hours daily to play, interact and explore (in a ferret-proof space, of course). This activity level can be important to keeping ferrets trim, entertained, happy and healthy. Other important care for ferrets at home includes:
- Cleaning ferrets’ ears every two weeks
- Bathing ferrets once every couple of months (bathing more frequently can trigger the secretion of more oils from the skin, which can cause ferrets to have muskier scents)
- Clipping ferrets’ nails once every two weeks (at least)
- Brushing ferrets’ teeth (with baking soda or special ferret toothpaste).
- Medical care for ferrets – Ferrets should be vaccinated for both distemper and rabies (check with a local vet for a specific vaccination schedule, based on your ferret’s age and condition). Additionally, it’s important to:
- Take ferrets to regular, preventative care visits and checkups to limit the chances that they may develop health problems
- Get ferrets spayed or neutered (around the age of 6 months) to minimize their risk of certain health complications (and potentially even improve dispositions and make ferrets less aggressive) – Please be aware that reputable breeders will typically spay/neuter ferrets that are intended to be pets.
Adrenal Disease in Ferrets
Adrenal disease (hyperadrenocorticism) is one of the most common ferret health problems. Usually affecting ferrets older than 3, adrenal disease can be found in ferrets as young as 1 year old. It typically involves a tumor or lesion developing on the adrenal glands, causing them to overproduce certain hormones.
Common symptoms of adrenal disease in ferrets include (but may not be limited to):
- Thinning hair and/or hair loss, which can occur in patterns or randomly – Please be aware that ferrets may regrow hair without treatment as their hormone levels change or as the seasons change. This does not mean that ferrets have recovered from adrenal disease, and hair loss can reoccur in the future (as hormone balances continue to change).
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Decrease in activity and energy levels
- Increase in scratching/itchiness – This can lead to ferrets developing sores on their skin (from scratching themselves excessively).
- Increased thirst and urination
- Difficulty urinating (in males).
Adrenal disease in ferrets is diagnosed by a veterinarian and is usually treated by one (or a combination) of the following:
- Surgery (to remove the tumor and/or adrenal gland)
- Lupron Depot injections (to try to shrink the tumor and alleviate the symptoms)
- Melatonin implants or medication (to try to rebalance the hormone levels).
Adrenal disease in ferrets is highly treatable – but it will be fatal if left untreated. So, it’s vital to consult a vet if you start noticing the symptoms of adrenal disease in your ferret.
Other Common Ferret Health Problems
In addition to adrenal disease in ferrets, some other common health issues that can affect ferrets include (but may not be limited to):
- Cancers, like adrenal gland cancer, pancreatic cancer, and lymphoma
- Viral diseases, such as distemper, rabies and influenza
- Other health issues, which can include dental problems, anemia, hairballs, etc.
Feeding ferrets well-balanced diets – and making sure they get the right preventative care and vaccinations – can be the key to avoiding these ferret health problems and maximizing your ferret’s longevity and quality of life!
Need the Best Quality Food & Supplements for Your Ferret? Contact Totally Ferret Today!
Our friendly, knowledgeable professionals are ready to answer your questions and help you select the best food nutritional products for your ferret. To speak with one of our pros and find out more about our high-quality, specially-formulated food and supplements for ferret(s), contact Totally Ferret today by calling (303) 410-1101 or (877) 545-5462. You can also email us via the contact form on this page.
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Based in Broomfield, Colorado, Totally Ferret is a division of Performance Foods. We ship orders to every state in the U.S., as well as various countries across the world.