Every ferret owner knows that good care and preventive can assure a happy and healthy life to his/her furball. There are a number of things that you can do at your home in order to make sure that your pet but it is not enough.
Ferrets should be examed by a vet at least twice a year (every six months) if they are in perfect health because there is a list of routine examinations and tests that the only vet can perform. Also, they have to receive all the necessary shots on time to keep them healthy.
First we will start with tips on how to check your pet at home so please keep reading…
What you can do at your home?
Check the fur – fur coat of your pet should be shiny except in the change period but if you notice any abnormality( change of color, hair loss, flea presence etc ) with the fur, contact your vet.
Pay attention to the weight – weight change can indicate many things and for most of them you need to see the vet. Remember the weight oscillation in spring/fall are quite normal but some major weight change require a vet check-up
Carefully observe the skin – same as with fur, changes on skin can say a lot about ferrets health. Ferrets skin is rather sensitive, so if you find your pet’s skin dry, itchy, or if the color has been changed, ask for advice
Look your pet in the eyes – Your fur friend should have clear eyes. If you notice any change, for example, some discoloration or watery eyes, visit the vet. It might be that your pet caught some eye infection.
Ears condition is very important – every healthy ferret should have a small amount of the wax in the ears but if you notice the larger amount of it or you feel the bad smell ( which is not ok, as ears should not smell at all ) or you find the color of the wax is darker then usual ( in some cases even black ) visit to the vet is a must. It could be some ear infection or ear mites, anyhow do not neglect those signs
Bad breath – ferrets are a bit smelly animals but note that breath is not one of the smelly sources. Moreover, it should not be smelly at all. If you notice stinky smell coming from your ferret’s mouth keep in mind that this could point out to some bigger problem then just an issue with teeth.
Speaking of ferrets mouth, keep an eye on ferrets gums – they should have nice, pinky color.If they are more whitish, you need to seek for vet’s advise
From time to time check your pet’s whole body, you might find some nodules or bumps. It is also advisable to check the genitalia if there is irritation or swelling. These are alarm signs, you should contact the vet.
Annual vet visit
The first step is to find a good vet who has experience in treating ferrets. This one can be quite challenging. The problem is getting even worse if you live in rural areas where ferrets are not so common pets. Think about this at the very moment when you decide to have a ferret as pet as you will need a vet at some point, for sure.
After you have found the vet you think is good and talk with him/her about routine tests and examination that should be performed annually as a part of preventive care. You can do these check up-s once per year if you have younger ferret up to 2 years old but if you can afford it, then do it every 6 months. In case your pet suffers from some chronic issues (heart disease, arthritis ) the vet visit should be even more often.
Anyhow If you have older ferret ( 3-4 years old ) you should plan visit to the vet in every 6 months.
According to information I collected the annual vet check-up cost around 150 -250 $ , and shots are 20-25 $ (each) depends on where you live.
When you set up an appointment you can think about preparations .
How to prepare my ferret for a vet visit
I heard that many owners do the extra grooming before their annual vet check-up. I guess people start from themselves but in the case of ferrets this is not a good idea. You should allow the vet to examine your pet in the standard state, you do not have to do the extra ear cleaning, as wax found in the ears could indicate something to the vet, same as with teeth, fur, nails. You might only trim the nails a few days before the appointment, as ferrets nails are really sharp.
Even if you have to travel 15 min or 3 hours to the vet’s practice or clinic you should prepare a few things for the trip. You’ll need a carrier for a ferret, food, water, small litter pan and a sleeping sack for a more comfortable trip. I read a very good advice – you should bring extra water which is actually not for drinking. This water should be frozen and will be very helpful ( especially if you live in an area of warm climate ) in case of AC broke down or some unexpected roadblock. Ferrets are very sensitive on both high and low temperatures so if it is too hot in the car they can get stroke so frozen water will help you keep a steady body temperature.
Another thing -never ever let you ferret to run freely and loose inside of the car. You can never guess in which ‘whole’ it can get in.
It is a good idea to bring everything extra – extra food and treat, extra clean towels and beddings etc, same as for babies!
Ok, you have eventually arrived to your wet!
When you check in to the vet clinic, the receptionist will find the medical record of your pet and will allow you excess to the examination room. I assume you have already been there and your ferret has a medical record as I guess you provided the necessary vaccine. Medical record usually contains the following data: the origin of your ferret ( where did you buy it or adopted it ) ferrets age and sex, vaccination history, any previous behavioral problem or disease.
Once in the examination room, your ferret would like to stretch its legs and most probably use its litter pan. I also read great advice not to throw away the content of the litter pan as your vet might take the stool sample.
Once the vet comes to the examination room, he/ she will first observe the movement of your ferret, they will check its weight, fur and skin, looking for any abnormalities such as lumps or something like that, fleas presence etc.
The vet shall check your pet’s temperature ( the normal one is around 100-103 F ) The doctors usually use rectal or ear thermometer but to tell you the truth i found that ear thermometer is far better although this temperature is slightly lower than rectal one, but do the rectal could be changeling as ferrets are very lively animals.
Then your vet will use a stethoscope to check the lungs and heart. The normal pulse rate is 200 beats per minute. The next are eyes and ears, if the doctor find the wax suspicious he/ she will take the sample, just to be sure that your pet does not have some ear infection or ear mites.
A good vet will also check the abdomen ( because internal organs ), next are lymph nodes.
If your pet did not leave the stool sample in its litter pan at the arrival, then the doctor will collect the sample by using the swab. This can cause minor discomfort but it is very useful so the doctor can check possible parasites presence.
The vet also will do the oral examination checking your little friend’s mouth /teeth.
If your ferret is an older one ( 3-4 years old ), your vet might suggest making blood work and urinalyses ( for this analysis you should bring the fresh morning urine, packed in clean container ). These analyses could help a doctor to detect any kidney or liver disease or insulinoma cancer.
If it is time, your ferret will receive the vaccine. There are two main shots your ferret needs to receive. One is rabies and another one canine distemper vaccine. Baby ferrets receive several series of both vaccines in their first year ( two for rabies and three for distemper ) .
After that period every ferret should get one shot of each on yearly basis.
At the end of your vet’s visit you will get the advice and possible the list of medications you need to buy. Most of them are for prevention for example a heart-worm or hairballs.