Typical Diseases in Ferrets

If you keep your ferrets humanely and have a healthy diet, they will usually live happily and healthily for a long time. Regular care and monitoring also prevent diseases. Despite everything, of course, every animal can get sick at some point

Ferrets are extremely robust and resilient. They rarely get sick, and when they do, they often hide their illnesses and suffer in silence. That is why it is important that you check your health every day. But even with the best care, the little rascals are not completely immune to diseases. If you notice any symptoms of illness in your pet or if you notice anything unusual, you must contact the veterinarian immediately. Even if you are familiar with the disease and its symptoms, or perhaps even know in theory how to treat it, you must under no circumstances treat your animals yourself! This would usually drastically worsen the situation for your sick ferret. In any case, go to an expert who can treat your animal professionally.

Eye diseases

Drafts often cause eye infections in ferrets. Reddening of the conjunctiva and tearing are the first signs of this. Get advice from your veterinarian. He will give you eye drops for your animal and treat severe cases. As a precaution, place your animals’ cage in a place that is protected from draughts.

Aujeszky virus

This virus is found in raw pork. If ferrets eat it, they soon show fatigue and loss of appetite. Aujeszky virus is always fatal within 24 hours.

External parasites

Ear mites are particularly common in ferrets. If your ferret is constantly scratching his ear and shaking his head, you should check his ears. If they are red and leaking a dark brown secretion, see a vet immediately. If the problem is not treated immediately, it can develop into a dangerous chronic middle ear infection. Fleas and biting lice are also common in ferrets. Symptoms of an infestation are constant itching, reddened skin, and restlessness. Again, ask your vet for advice. You can remove ticks yourself with tick tweezers. Make sure that the head does not remain in the skin. If you have problems, go to the vet. The best precaution to avoid parasites is a clean ferret home.


Botulism is caused by the pathogen Clostridium botulinum. This pathogen occurs in bacterially infected feed and leads to poisoning of the animal. Fresh feed stored in an airtight environment is particularly susceptible. There, the bacteria find ideal living conditions and form dangerous toxins. The first symptoms can be seen between twelve and 96 hours after eating the bad food. Apathy, salivation, and shortness of breath set in. The animal cannot be helped with this poisoning. After only a few hours, death occurs due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles. To prevent this poisoning, you should ensure that the fresh food is always in perfect condition.


Diarrhea is a common problem in ferrets. It can have various causes, but mostly wrong or too little food is the reason. You can provide first aid by administering a glucose solution to your darling and feeding it with diluted baby food. Under no circumstances should you put your animal on a diet. That would only make matters worse. If diarrhea doesn’t go away after a short time, see a veterinarian immediately.


Some ferrets are particularly sensitive to temperature fluctuations in spring and autumn. You get a runny nose and swollen tonsils (angina). The first symptoms are sneezing watery eyes and watery nasal discharge. The cold must be treated immediately by the vet, otherwise, it can develop into life-threatening pneumonia.

Diseases of the urinary organs

Many ferrets are very susceptible to bladder infections. If you notice traces of blood in your urine, this could be a sign of this disease. Again, consult your veterinarian.

Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract

Ferrets’ digestion is very delicate. Wrong or unfamiliar food can quickly lead to nausea. The ferrets then put their paws in their mouths or scratch restlessly in the litter box. Sometimes they even vomit. When bacteria multiply in the gut, other organs can be damaged via the blood. In this case, the animals no longer eat. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any signs of nausea or an unwillingness to eat.

Foreign body

It can quickly happen that the curious ferrets swallow a foreign object. In such a case, intestinal obstruction can occur. Symptoms are vomiting, raised flanks, reluctance to eat, and little defecation. Take your animal to the vet immediately.


Hepatitis is a contagious inflammation of the liver. It is manifested by vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and yellowing of the ears and eyes. If you notice these symptoms, see the vet immediately. This disease should be prevented by vaccination.

Heart problems

Older ferrets in particular can suffer from cardiac insufficiency. Symptoms of this disease are coughing fits. The problem is that these seizures usually occur at night. If the animal is not kept indoors, the disease is usually recognized quite late. If a ferret suddenly lies flat on the floor in the middle of play and is breathing heavily, this can indicate a cardiac insufficiency. With both diseases, you must take your animal to the vet immediately.


If the ferret’s cage is exposed to direct sunlight, the animals can suffer from heatstroke in the hot summer months. If the animal is unconscious and suffering from shortness of breath, you must immediately provide first aid. Put him in a cool place, cover him with damp cloths and try to give him water. When the ferret gets better, offer him meat and vitamin paste. If it doesn’t improve immediately, see your veterinarian.

Hyperestrogenism in feces

Hyperestrogenism is also known under the term permanent ranch. When the females become mated for the first time, i.e. when they become sexually mature and are not mated, there may be a permanent willingness to mating. This causes estrogen levels to become too high, which can cause spinal cord damage. Initial symptoms are apathy, emaciation, and a swollen vulva. See the vet immediately if you notice these signs. If you do not intend to breed with your female, it is best to have her sterilized as a preventive measure.

Internal parasites

The intestines can also be infested with parasites. Roundworms or tapeworms are found in some ferrets. The first signs are diarrhea and weight loss, although the animal is eating normally. Visit the vet and bring a fecal sample with you. Like dogs and cats, young ferrets can be dewormed preventively.

Influenza (flu)

Influenza is caused by a virus that is transmitted by droplet infection. Your ferret can get infected by other animals, but also from you or other people. In the same way, influenza can be transmitted to you from the ferret. Symptoms include loss of appetite, apathy, nasal discharge, and an increase in temperature. Get the flu treated by the vet immediately. If recognized in time, it is usually over quickly, but if the animal is not treated, the disease can be fatal.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is also contagious to humans. It manifests itself in apathy, diarrhea, unsteady gait, loss of appetite, and vomiting. If you experience these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. You should be vaccinated against leptospirosis.


Like cats, ferrets can also contract leukemia. However, the cat vaccine does not work in ferrets. The first signs of this disease are enlarged lymph nodes and fever. Contact the vet immediately.

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