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phone:   (608) 423-3315
fax:        (608) 423-9575
mail:      PO Box 3
              Cambridge, WI



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Older Ferret Care

  • At 3 years of age, the owner should have a CBC (complete blood count) done, then have one done once a year until 5 years of age. A chemistry panel should be taken at 5 years of age and possibly x-rays. Also, a checkup should be done every 6 months after the ferret is 5 years old.
  • Older ferrets develop callused pads on the feet. Check frequently and use either petroleum jelly or vitamin E oil on pads.
  • Older ferrets will sleep more but if there is a drastic change in sleep habits, check with your veterinarian. It may be a sign of illness.
  • Keep an eye on your ferret's coat. Look for hair loss, skin changes, growths, lumps, bumps, excessive scratching. Healthy coats is usually a sign of a healthy ferret.
  • Older ferrets have less control of bodily functions; therefore, we need to place more litter pans, or newspaper, around for them and cut the sides down so they have easier access. Remember, a small room is like a couple of blocks to a ferret.
  • Hind end weakness, may be a sign of just old age, or an illness, check with your vet. Either way, make changes to your ferret's environment to make life a little easier for them to access their litter pan, their cage, etc.
  • Around 4 years of age change your ferret's diet to a maintenance or senior food such as Totally Ferret for older ferrets. Make sure you change gradually by adding a little of the new diet each day over a 10-day to 2 weeks period. If the new food is introduced too quickly, your ferret may refuse to eat.
  • Check your ferret's teeth for tartar buildup. Clean your ferret's teeth a couple times a week.
    Lymphosarcoma - This is a cancer of the lymphatic system.
    Signs: usually swollen lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, wasting, lethargy, frequent illness (colds), poor appetite, difficulty in breathing, chronic diarrhea or hind limb weakness.
    Diagnosis: Combination of CBC and either a biopsy of a lymph node, bond marrow biopsy, x-ray, or biopsies of other affected area.
    Treatment: Chemotherapy, diet and cortcosteriods
    Insulinoma - Beta cell tumors in the pancreas.
    Signs: Blank stares, difficulty in waking, drooling or salivating, pawing at the mouth, extreme lethargy, seizures, finally coma and death.
    Diagnosis: Fasting blood glucose by veterinarian.
    Treatment: Surgery, medical management via diet and prednisone/proglycem.
    Adrenal Disease - Adenoma or adenocarcinoma of the adrenal glands.
    Signs: Hair loss, itching, dry brittle hair coat, thin skin, red scaly skin, weakened muscles, increased body odor, anemia and lethargy. Females: swollen vulva Males: Return to aggressive, male behavior.
    Diagnosis: Above signs or the Tennessee Blood Panel
    Treatment: Surgery, Melatonin Implants, Lupron (or a combination of both).
    Skin Tumors - Mast cell tumors; cancers of the skin glands, sebaceous cysts
    Signs: Any unusual area on the coat such as round, raised button-like lesions. These can be crusted with blood but usually are benign have been known to spread to internal organs.
    Treatment: Surgical removal and biopsy

Keep in mind . . . .
You, as the ferret owner, are the best judge of the health of your ferret. Be alert to any drastic changes in behavior or looks and keep up with good husbandry skills at home. Last but not least, see your veterinarian annually for checkups and vaccinations and if you have any concerns, they are just a phone call away.


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