Ferret caretakers should perform the following assessments of their companion ferrets each month to ensure good health and preventative care:
- Keep a record of your ferret’s weight. Major weight changes could signal a health problem. (Seasonal weight fluctuations in Spring/Fall are normal.) Check to see if your veterinarian will allow you to use his/her scales for health checks.
- Check that coat. Your ferret’s coat should be shiny and glossy, except during coat change seasons. If you notice a hair loss which does not regrow within a normal time frame, check with your vet. Also, check to make sure your ferret is free of fleas. You may find flea dirt (black specks) in the fur. There are a couple of safe products for flea treatment: shampoos for kittens with pyrethrins and a small dose treatment of Advantage (vet supervised) should keep your home and ferret free of fleas.
- Check the skin condition. Is it dry, flaky, discolored? These changes should be reported to your vet.
- Check your ferret’s eyes. Are they clear and bright? Is there any colored discharge? Watery eyes may indicate an allergy or irritation, perhaps even a cold. If this persists, it should be checked by your veterinarian.
- Keep ears clean and check dark debris for ear mites. An abundance of debris is not normal. Ears should be pink and free of odor. If the ears are smelly, have your vet check for ear mites. Mites left untreated can cause minor infections and other problems.
- Check the color of your ferret’s gums. They should be pink, pale gums indicate a problem. Gently press a finger against the gums. The pink color should return to them quickly, indicating good blood flow. Also, check teeth for tartar build-up.
- Check your ferret’s breath. Bad breath can indicate more than tooth and gum problems.
- Check the entire torso for any lumps or bumps.
- Check the feet and pads for dryness or cracking. Older ferrets may have dry foot pads. Applying a small application of Vaseline™ to the pads will protect them from cracking and drying, especially in dry winter heat.
- Check your ferret’s genitalia to make sure there is no swelling or signs of irritation. If either is observed, contact your veterinarian.
- Does your ferret cough or gasp? First, rule out the probability of hair ingestion during shedding season. Then, if either condition persists, see your veterinarian.
Remember that finding a health problem early can make all the difference in a quick recovery. Whenever you observe any health indicators that are out of the ordinary, contact your veterinarian.