Ferret Diseases

Common Ferret Diseases & Health Issues

Ferrets are delicate creatures, and pet owners need to always look out for common ferret diseases. Ideally, a ferret should have a thorough checkup annually where a veterinarian can run various vital tests.

Pet ferrets that are 3 years and above require two visits per year to the vet clinic for checkups. 

Ferret health problems symptoms can seem the same, and it is hard to diagnose the ferret disease that your pet is experiencing at home. Whenever your pet is under the weather, the best course of action is to visit the vet for an official diagnosis. 

Additionally, you should be aware of the potential ferret health issues to take precautions against problems with ferrets. Some health issues may be due to the habitat, while others arise because they are common in ferrets.

Either way, knowing ferret diseases can save your pet ferret someday. Here are some of the common ferret illnesses and health issues you should know.

Intestinal Issues 

A ferret can experience intestinal issues because of blockage from food or foreign objects in the tummy. Ferrets under 1 year tend to eat small items made of foam, rubber, and plastic.

It may range from small toy blocks or earbuds. It would be best if you were careful about the small items that your pet ferret comes across. 

After swallowing a small object, some of the ferret sickness symptoms will be lack of appetite, ferret lethargy, vomiting, and sometimes vomiting. You have to take the ferret to a vet for a diagnosis, and an x-ray will confirm the object in the stomach.

After that, the doctor will determine the best course of action. 

You may get a laxative to remove whatever is stuck in your ferret’s tummy out. A more severe blockage issue may lead to surgery, which is a risk. X-rays are sometimes unable to identify the exact object a pet ferret swallowed to cause the blockage.

Therefore, your ferret will need surgery to remove the significant blockage. 


Diarrhea is a ferret illness that can arise due to viruses like salmonella being available in a ferret’s food or environment. Diarrhea is among the severe diseases ferrets can get from viruses and parasites.

It would help if you took action immediately you notice that your ferret has diarrhea. 

All ferrets, old and young, can experience diarrhea throughout their life. Most diarrhea symptoms in ferrets stem from having liquid-like poop that has a different color than regular poop.

Other signs include weight loss, ferret lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and dehydration. 

You need to take your pet to the vet and explain the symptoms you have noticed. You’ll probably get medicine that will kill the virus or parasite causing diarrhea—treating diarrhea as soon as you notice it will reduce the ferret health problems symptoms. 

Cancer or Tumors 

Ferrets are prone to getting cancers and tumors, especially the ones below 3 years. It would help if you asked your vet to do a screening test during annual checkups to ensure nothing unusual is growing inside the body.

Ferrets are prone to skin, pancreatic cancer, adrenal gland tumors, lymph nodes, and lymphocytic white blood cell cancer. 

Any form of cancer or tumor can become a dangerous ferret illness that leads to the death of your pet if not in the early stages. A diagnosis is made through x-ray results, urinalysis, Electrocardiogram, chemistry profile, and blood count.

You may not notice any ferret diseases and symptoms when your pet has cancer or a tumor. 

It would help if you took your pet for a medical examination when you notice any lumps or bumps on your ferret. Most cancers and tumors are treatable when found in the early stages.

Your veterinarian will recommend the best treatment option for your pet. 

Heart Disease 

Another ferret health issue is heart disease, especially for ferrets that are 3 years and above. Ferrets can die of heart failure because of heart muscle malfunction as they grow old.

They can develop heart disease from heartworm or a weakness in the heart muscles. 

Signs of heart problems with ferrets include a lethargic ferret, anorexia, loss of strength, coughing, trouble breathing, and lack of coordination. Heart issues are identified when a vet listens to the rhythm of the heart and notes abnormal changes. 

Multiple tests will be carried out to confirm the heart disease your ferret has. A vet will advise you on a treatment regime depending on the severity of the condition.

Follow the veterinarian’s treatment keenly to help your pet recover. 


Ferrets can get external and interior parasites that cause adverse effects on their health. They can get worms in their system.

Ferrets are prone to fleas, ticks, and ear mites on their skin when they aren’t inspected regularly. Signs of external parasites include your pet scratching themselves more than usual, weight loss, and seeing parasites on the skin. 

Internal parasites can cause weight loss, lack of appetite, lethargy, weakness, and vomiting. You can use a topical application recommended by a vet to kill fleas and ticks.

However, you will need an edible treatment to kill parasites in your ferret. 

Ferret Behaviors Confused for Health Issues 

There are several behaviors that pet owners can confuse with ferret health issues. The behaviors can cause pet owners to panic, thinking that a ferret has become ill all of a sudden.

Here are some of the behaviors that shouldn’t worry you. 

Dragging the Bottom on Carpet 

Many pet owners understand that cat and dogs drag their bottoms on the carpet when they have worms or experiencing anal discomfort. It may cause you to consider taking your ferret to the clinic when you see it doing that. However, your ferret is wiping their bottom on the carpet after emptying their bowels in the litter box. 

You can look for a simple to clean litter box and cage lining to keep the ferret’s living area clean. Your pet ferret will always wipe its backside after doing its business because ferrets are sanitary creatures. 

Deep Sleep

Another behavior that causes ferret owners to panic is when they can’t wake up their pets from their naps. Many owners will tap the pet, shake it, move it, and even conclude that the pet is in comatose.

Many ferret owners have found themselves on the way to a clinic thinking something is wrong, only for the ferret to wake up halfway there. 

Ferrets tend to fall into a deep sleep, and you may think they are experiencing a coma. One way to know whether your pet is asleep is to check whether they are drooling.

Comatose ferrets tend to droll. Also, you check to see whether their nose is a healthy shade of pink. 

Hitting Objects 

Another weird ferret behavior is hitting objects when you let them out of the cage. Many ferrets will go around the house hitting stuff in their excitement.

You may end up thinking that your pet is going blind and have concerns over ferret fall injuries. 

Ferrets don’t have the best eyesight, and that is why they go hitting things in their way. They have a high pain tolerance and get up after hitting an object. It is not easy for ferret fall injuries to happen, but it wouldn’t hurt to release a ferret in a secure location. 

What Are the Common Ferret Health Problems Symptoms?

One telling symptom that your pet is sick is a lethargic ferret. Although the animals sleep for most of the day, they are active when they are awake. Therefore, you keep a close eye on the pet when you notice it is not interested in playtime. 

Other ferret sickness symptoms include rapid weight loss, anorexia, loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal swelling, general body weakness, cold appendages, and sometimes diarrhea. The symptoms tend to be more or less the same for various ferret illnesses.

It would be best to take the ferret to a clinic immediately if you notice any symptoms for a diagnosis. 

Which is the Best Way to Protect Ferrets?

The best way to keep your pet ferret from getting ill is by ensuring it gets a thorough checkup once or twice a year. Skipping checkups can lead to a late diagnosis of severe diseases like cancer or heart disease.

A late diagnosis for severe diseases may make it impossible to cure the pet because it is in the advanced stages. 

Therefore, pay for the best checkup routines and tests that need to be done to confirm that your pet is healthy. Also, an early diagnosis for some illnesses gives your pet a chance to receive treatment and heal well.

Overall, keep a strict schedule for the annual and semi-annual checkups with your veterinarian. 

Other ways to keep ferret illnesses at bay are maintaining a healthy diet, ensuring they get exercise, and keeping their living space clean. A healthy diet and regular exercise can prolong your pet’s lifespan and keep it in the best condition. 

Are There Ferret Diseases to Humans?

It is rare for humans to get diseases from ferrets, but they can get diseases from humans. Humans have salmonella and human influenza, among other microorganisms.

Humans can transfer disease-causing organisms to ferrets when petting them or cleaning their cages. 

It is essential to maintain a high sanitary standard when handling ferrets to avoid passing diseases to them. In rare cases, ferrets can pass scabies to humans when they have the disease-causing organisms on them. 

Overall, ensuring humans and other pets in the house are disease-free reduces the odds of passing illnesses onto ferrets. Regular checkups should ensure that it doesn’t pass ferret diseases to humans.

Also, select the places and animal interactions that your flea has to prevent the transfer of parasites like fleas. 

Should I Buy Over-the-Counter Treatment for Ferret Illnesses?

It is not advisable to buy over-the-counter medicines for ferrets when they are ill without your vet’s directive. Ferrets are toxic to many substances, and over-the-counter medicines can do more harm than good to your pet.

It would be best to consult your doctor before purchasing any medicine to ensure it is suitable for ferrets. 

Is It Hard to Keep Ferret Healthy?

No. You can keep your ferret healthy by following a recommended diet, giving it exercise, and maintaining a sanitary environment. Ferrets are not hard to take care of when you know what you should do.

It would be best if you always read up on ferrets from reliable sources to be aware of the health issues that may arise with the pets. 


Now you know the common ferret diseases and health issues to look out for at home. It would be best if you watched your pet ferret when you suspect it is ill.

Record the symptoms when you notice any to convey the information to a veterinarian when you go to the clinic. 

Also, you are aware of the weird behaviors that pet owners misinterpret as a sign of ferret health issues and symptoms. You can avoid taking your ferret to the doctor because it fell into a deep sleep.

You can prevent a scenario where you look like an overzealous pet owner who jumps at any small thing. 

Overall, understanding the common ferret health issues enables you to take better care of your pet. It also prompts you to be vigilant in monitoring the health of the pet and keeping it safe. The best way to catch ferret illnesses early is to ensure your pet gets an annual checkup.

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