My tips on caring for pet ferrets - Dr. Marty Becker

My tips on caring for pet ferrets

Thursday, Oct 13th, 2016 | By Dr. Marty Becker

Two small ferrets laying on cstudio cloth in a cute portrait.

Are ferrets easy to keep as pets? A reader recently wrote asking me how to be a great first-time ferret owner:

Q: I just got a ferret! What should I be prepared for as far as potential health problems or injuries? I want to make sure I take good care of him.

A: Oh, man, ferrets are so much fun! You’re going to have a wild time with yours. Ferrets are highly active and curious, and that can get them into trouble. They can also be prone to certain types of health problems. Here are some things to watch for, courtesy of my colleague and exotic pet expert, Byron de la Navarre, DVM.

  • Ferrets get caught in recliners and can suffocate or be crushed. Don’t use one if your ferret is out and about.
  • Ferrets are heat intolerant. Never leave them in hot cars or other areas.
  • Ferrets can break or tear toenails. Clip off any part of the nail that’s still hanging, and use hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound. Styptic powder or cornstarch can help to stop bleeding. Take your ferret to the veterinarian if you notice swelling or discharge at the nail bed in the next two or three days.
  • Ferrets sniff a lot and inhale hair, lint and dirt in the process. They clear their throats with a reverse sneeze, which sounds like they are choking, gagging and sneezing all at once. They may also cough violently. If you notice an unusual increase in the frequency or intensity of coughing and sneezing, take your ferret to the veterinarian right away, especially if he also seems lethargic or isn’t eating.
  • Ferrets are prone to several types of cancer. Regular veterinary exams can help to catch disease early.

The No. 1 rule of living with a ferret? Never leave him unattended. That’s when he gets into trouble. If you aren’t there, he should be safely confined in his cage.

Read more, including about life with aging pets, in a recent Pet Connection!