Disease Prevention In Ferrets

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    Preventive measures are vital for the health of ferrets and usually include physical examination and screening, vaccination, parasite control (for external and internal parasites and quarantine procedures.

    The extreme susceptibility of ferrets to canine distemper virus (CDV) requires that newly introduced ferrets be housed at a unit as far as possible from dogs as is practical.

    Ferret owners should be aware of the potential transmission of Aleutian disease virus infection and infectious diarrhea (coronavirus infection) among animals in shelters or presented at ferret shows. Another coronavirus, the ferret systemic coronavirus (FRSCV) of the genus Alphacoronavirus, causes the disease similar to the dry form of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).

    Ferrets are susceptible to rabies and can transmit the virus.

    Bovine and swine herpesviruses were detected in clinically normal ferrets. Raw beef and pig meat is suspected as the source of infection and should, therefore, be avoided as the disease caused by the virus is fatal in most animals.

    Recommended Protocols

    6 – 8 weeks (postweaning)

    Vaccination with canine distemper (CD) vaccine; spaying, castration, removal of anal gland (optional); first fecal exam for oocytes, Giardia and parasite eggs.

    9 – 12 weeks

    Culture for Salmonella and Campylobacter; second vaccination against CD; second fecal exam for oocytes, Giardia and parasite eggs.

    12 weeks

    Rabies vaccination (IMRAB only).

    5 – 6 months

    Spaying, castration, removal of anal gland (optional).

    13 – 14 weeks

    Third vaccination with canine distemper (CD) vaccine.

    15 months (1 year after CD vaccine)

    Physical examination; vaccination for CD (repeated annually); rabies vaccination (repeated annually).

    Year 2

    Physical examination (repeated annually); annual vaccination (repeated annually); blood glucose determination (repeated annually).

    Year 3

    Physical examination (repeated semiannually); annual vaccination (repeated annually); blood glucose determination (repeated semiannually); CDC (repeated annually); serum chemistry (repeated annually).

    Ferrets can be given drugs or fluids with a special rodent-dosing needle and syringe or a plastic dispensing dropper. The administration of medication to ferrets in tablet or capsule form is to be performed by experienced personnel.


    1. James G. Fox, Robert P. Marini – Biology And Diseases Of The Ferret
    2. Lynn C. Anderson, Glen Otto, Kathleen R. Pritchett-Corning, Mark T. Whary – Laboratory Animal Medicine
    3. C. Andrew Matchett, Rena Marr, Felipe M. Berard, Andrew G. Cawthon, Sonya P. Swing – The Laboratory Ferret
    4. Image Credits: Julies_Picks


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