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Ferret health and welfare

Health logo © RSPCA publications and brand 2010

 

Ensure your ferret is protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease 

 

Ferrets up close © iStockphoto

Ferrets need:

  • Neutering unless you intend to breed from them. Ask your vet about the best option for your ferrets. More information: Neutering and contraception methods for ferrets (PDF 135 KB)
     
  • Vet checks annually (at least) to check for diseases and for vaccination against canine distemper. Ferrets are vulnerable to many infectious diseases. Some diseases e.g. flu, can be passed between ferrets and people.
     
  • Checking daily for signs of illness/injury. Checking their nails (appropriate length), coat and skin regularly. Ensure this is done by someone else if you’re away.
    - Ferrets feel pain in the same way we do. Behaviour changes can be early signs of illness/pain. Signs of discomfort/pain include reluctance to move, weight loss, anorexia, trembling, collapse, crying, whimpering, and teeth grinding.
    - Signs of stress/fear can include fleeing, hissing, over grooming, biting, and hiding. Stressed ferrets are more likely to become ill.
     
  • Treatment for external and internal parasites, as advised by your vet. 
     
  • Regular grooming to keep their coat in good condition. If unsure, seek advice from a pet care specialist.
     
  • Veterinary treatment when necessary - consider pet insurance to ensure your ferret is covered.
     
  • A proper diet to help prevent lots of common diseases. If their eating/drinking habits change, seek advice from your vet straight away as they could be seriously ill.
     
  • Careful consideration. Before deciding 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 are unsure about anything.
     
  • To be treated only with medicines that have been recommended for them by a vet. Medicines for other animals can be very dangerous to ferrets.
     
  • To be identifiable, ideally via a microchip (ask your vet for advice), so they can be returned to you if lost and treated quickly if injured.