PetCare Veterinary Clinic Rustington

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You and Your Pet

Ferret Care

Congratulations on becoming the proud new owner of a ferret. They are a joy to have and with the right care and attention will become an important member of the family. Whether they are young kits or rescued adults it is important to ensure their health and well being from the start. Just a few of the important healthcare issues are included in this pack. For any other advice or help please contact us here at the surgery or West Sussex Ferret Welfare and we will be happy to answer your questions.

Diet

Ferrets are carnivores they eat meat and NOT vegetables. They are obligate carnivores, which means they require a special diet that is mostly meat based but also contains protein and fat. Meat should be raw and the cheapest most readily available are chicken wings and rabbit. They can be fed the whole wing including the RAW bones as these help to keep their teeth clean. Their dry diet should be a good quality complete ferret diet such as Supa Ferret excel and should be available constantly with amounts as recommended by the particular food chosen.

They cannot tolerate lactose in milk so please avoid anything other than fresh water.

This should always be available preferably in a heavy bowl so they don’t tip it over. Other additions fed will only encourage an overweight ferret.

Raw meat should always be removed to prevent any left over from “going off”

Dental Disease

The increasing use of tinned foods and treats has lead to an increase in dental disease in ferrets. Yearly check ups will highlight any concerns but a dental procedure under general anaesthetic may be necessary to prevent further disease and or remove any problem teeth. Just as for dogs and cats it is possible to provide homecare for your ferrets teeth in the form of a dental gel “Logic” and dental biscuits to help reduce build up of dental plaque. They must be animal products though. Please ask us for further advice.

Neutering

We strongly recommend neutering. Castrating a male ferret it just the same operations as is carried out in a dog and cat. It greatly reduces the smell and allows two or more males to live together. The alternative is for your hob to be vasectomised, which means he can still mate but cannot make a Jill pregnant. A hob can be castrated or vasectomised from 6 months of age depending on size and breeding season.

Female ferrets come into season each spring and stay in season until mated. If allowed to stay in season, they can develop a form of anaemia and can become very ill or even die. For this reason it is important to have your Jill neutered. They are spayed in the same way as dogs and cats. It is better to spay when they are not in season such as late autumn or winter, but it can be discussed more fully with your veterinary surgeon. She can be spayed from 6 months of age depending on size and breeding season.

It is easy to tell if your Jill is in season as the entrance to her vulva swells very noticeably and will stay this way until the end of her season or until she is mated.

It is possible to mate your Jill with a vasectomised hob to bring her out of her season without her becoming pregnant, but this can be quite a rough business for your Jill and few escape without being bitten. It can also result in a false pregnancy afterwards, so it is better and safer to ensure she is spayed.

As with all animals any anaesthetic involves some risk to the patient but every care is taken to minimise these risks.

Vaccination

Ferrets are highly susceptible to canine distemper virus. The virus causes eye and nasal discharges, fever, and anorexia followed by a rash. The virus is 100% fatal in ferrets and there is no cure. Unfortunately in the UK at present there is no licensed ferret vaccine however the dog vaccine Duramune has received extensive safety studies and is used for ferret vaccinations in our surgery. Our Veterinary Surgeons can discuss this matter further with you.

Insurance

Veterinary treatment will cost the same as for a dog or cat; therefore it is worthwhile covering your self for those unexpected emergencies.

Pet Plan Exotics will insure your ferret for accident and illness. Please call them on 0800 1973047 or 0800 626012 for further information on the terms and conditions or their policy.

Microchip

Ferrets can, escape, wander slip a collar and lead or be stolen just as for any other pet. To avoid the distress that can be caused and to permanently identify your ferret it is recommended you have your ferret micro chipped.

Parasites

Parasites affect many ferrets including ear mites, mange mites, and fleas. There are several products available to deal with the problems such as Xeno 50 and Frontline. Please speak to us so we can recommend the most suitable product.

Worms are not commonly seen in ferrets however it is good practice to routinely worm your ferret with Panacur suspension or paste.

Whilst there are few products licensed for use in ferrets all treatments used are with the support of the manufacturer and following their recommendations. It is a work in progress.

That is by no means the end of the list but that should give you a taster for how we can ensure your ferret has the best start to a long and healthy life with you.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding any aspect of you pets health and well being please contact the surgery on 01903 782387.