The answer on this question is not so simple. Generally, yes, you can feel some allergy symptoms when having a ferret as a pet but the thing is that ferrets belong to the group of pets that could least harm you when it comes to allergies.
There is much more to be said on this topic, as simple YES or NO answer is not enough. I have done a research about humans being allergic to ferrets, partly because I also suffer from various allergies( dust, mold, the pollen of the grass, dog’s hair….) and I wanted to check if ferret would be the perfect pet for me.
I tried to put everything together that I could find on this topic and to make things easier for my friend but also for all of you who are confused with the same question.
Are ferrets hypo-allergenic ?
In most of the cases, yes, ferrets are hypo-allergenic,as they do not cause allergies as often as dogs and cats, nor such severe reactions.
But if you consider buying /adopting the ferret and you already know that you have certain number of allergies then the best would be to visit someone who has a pet ferret, to spend some time with the pet, to play with him/her in order to see if some allergy symptom will appear.
Don’t get discouraged if you do not know any ferret owner, visit a pet store or a ferret shelter and explain the issue you have. I am sure you will run into someone who could help you. If you already allergic to some animals It will be also good idea to consult your doctor regarding your plan of having a ferret as a new pet.
Do not mix hypo-allergenic and non-allergenic animals.
Non-allergenic pet animals do not exist, so the possibility to feel some allergic reaction in contact with pets is reality.
But hypo-allergenic pets, I this case-ferrets produce less allergens than other pet animals so they are less likely to cause some allergic reaction in humans.
How can ferrets trigger allergic reactions in humans?
When you think about ferrets and allergies, most of the people will assume that allergies will be caused by the fur. This is incorrect.
People are usually allergic to dander and not the fur itself. Dander is made of very small (hardly visible to the naked eye) parts of the skin, shed by ferrets(among other animals which are not topic of this article) with a fur. Shedding hairs( fur ) are the only carriers of dander, which can cause you an allergic reaction.
Shedding cycles are normal in the life of one ferret. There are regular and seasonal shedding. Season for shedding in spring and fall and meantime ferrets lose smaller amounts of fur on a regular basis.
So in case you have allergies caused by dander, most probably you will experience some symptoms twice a year during seasonal shedding.
In case you have several ferrets, bear in mind that not all ferrets lose their hair at the same time, so maybe allergic symptoms you are suffering from will be present for several weeks.
Another thing that can make a trouble are proteins found in ferret’s urine,poop,saliva, bedding…Although there are many proteins that can make a problem, the one is a crucial – Albumin.
This protein naturally found in blood, can be also detected in urine, poop,saliva ….Bear in mind that urine of male ferret has stronger allergens then other sources.
You should also pay attention to the ferret’s products. Sometimes you can experience allergic reaction and to associate that with your pet but the truth could be that your pet’s shampoo caused some reaction. I have also heard that Ferretone oil may be a trigger for allergic reactions in humans.
People who are more likely to develop an allergic reaction to ferrets
- People who are allergic to cats, especially cat’s albumin are in greater risk of developing allergic reactions to ferrets.
- People who have asthma
- People with history of allergic rhinitis (hay fever )
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Watery eyes and allergic conjunctivitis
- Itchy skin
- Skin rashes
- Breathing difficulty as more severe symptom
- Allergic asthma
Allergy to ferrets diagnose
There is no specific test that will confirm if you are allergic or not to your furry ball.
What you can do is the skin test using a sample of your pet ferret hair. I have also read that Radioallergosorbent ( RAST ) test could help.This test evaluate your immune system reaction to particular allergen. In any case you should consult your allergist and ask for advice.
Should I have a ferret if I am allergic?
If you are allergic to ferrets, you should definitely avoid them. This would be the most sensible decision. But we all know that things are not always simple in real life.
Maybe you have a kid whose great wish is to have a ferret as a pet. Maybe you really like these tiny,furry animals and you want to have one at all costs. In case you have a poor or mild allergic reaction, maybe you can consider the risk.
If you have an allergy to ferrets ask your allergist for possible vaccine. There are no shots for allergies to ferrets but maybe shots that contain cat’s extracts ( Albumin )could help, do check with your doctor.
If you experience some mild allergic reaction may be some ordinary allergy medications for which you do not need any prescription could help. Remember that spring and fall are the most intensive seasons when it comes to allergy to ferrets due to the shedding period.
Keep your home very clean. Vacuum cleaning and dusting on a regular basis. Wash the walls with vet sponge up to knee hight to eliminate any trace of dander that could cause you difficulties.
Keep your pet’s belonging very clean. Cage, litter pan, food and water bowls, bedding …. I have read that is good to wash/clean the cage at least twice a week if you have someone who has allergy in your home. You can use bleach for this purpose. You should change the bedding twice a week as well.
If possible, from time to time( maybe once per month) break down the cage so you can clean the parts you cannot reach otherwise
You should also wash the water and food bowls on daily basis, but do not use bleach on these, soap and hot water would be just fine.
Keep one room in your home ( if possible ) which will be 100% ferret free. In case you or some of the people you live with,experience allergic reaction, this room will serve as safe room,allergen free.
Get air purifiers -no matter you have allergy to ferrets or some other allergies, air purifier can only help you by removing dust,pet dander,smoke….
Always wash your hands after handling your furry ball. If you had a cuddling session then it is advisable to change and wash the clothes as well.
If you suffer from allergy to ferrets it is better to leave someone else to do all the work around ferret such as cleaning, bathing etc. You should reduce the time you are spending close to your pet ferret.
Ask your vet for advice on right diet for your furry pal. Right diet can control shedding and indirectly influence on your allergies.
Although ferrets are known as hypo-allergenic pets, there are some cases in which people reported mild or even severe allergic reactions. That is why it is not bad idea to follow some of the tips you can find in this article and to minimize the possibility to jeopardize your health.