Ferret health and welfare

To give your pet ferrets a happy, healthy life, here's what to do so they have the care and attention they need.

Buying a ferret

Before you decide to buy a ferret(s), find out how they've been bred, what they've been fed and how they've been cared for. Ask if they've had any health or behaviour problems before making a decision about buying them, and always check with a vet if you're unsure about anything.

Once you've got your new ferrets, it's best to have them neutered unless you intend to breed from them. Ask your vet about the best neutering and contraception methods for your ferrets.

Ideally, you should also get them microchipped (ask your vet for advice), so they can be returned to you if they get lost and treated quickly if they're injured.

Caring for your ferrets

Ferrets need a proper diet to help prevent lots of common diseases. They'll also need regular grooming to keep their coat in good condition.

If their eating or drinking habits change, ask your vet for advice straight away, as it could be a sign that something's wrong. You should only ever treat your ferrets with medicines that have been recommended for them by a vet, as medicines for other animals can be very dangerous to ferrets.

Ferret health checks

Check your ferrets every day for signs of illness/injury. Make sure their nails aren't getting too long, and keep an eye on the condition of their coat and skin. Get someone else to do this if you're away.

You should get your ferrets looked over by a vet at least once a year, to check for diseases and for vaccination against canine distemper. Ferrets are vulnerable to many infectious diseases, and some (such as flu) can be passed between ferrets and people. Your vet will also advise on treatment for external and internal parasites.

Remember, ferrets feel pain in the same way we do, and changes in their behaviour can be early signs of illness or pain.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Reluctance to move
  • Weight loss or anorexia
  • Trembling
  • Collapse
  • Crying or whimpering
  • Teeth grinding

Stressed ferrets are more likely to become ill. Signs of stress or fear can include fleeing, hissing, over-grooming, biting and hiding.

Finally, it's worth taking out pet insurance to ensure your ferrets are covered for vet treatment if needed.

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