So there has been a lot of interest in ferret diseases and health problems in ferrets lately. I have already done a few posts on sick ferrets, but it seems that another one is in order.
One reader wanted to know about the mortality rate in ferrets that have periodontal disease. I have researched this and talked to a vet about it. It turns out that periodontal disease is not fatal – if you catch it in time. But if you don’t have it taken care of, the infection will go into the blood stream and then into the kidneys and liver. Very bad for ferrets.
So, just as we humans need to take care of our teeth, we also need to take care of our little fuzzies’ teeth. When you do your ferrets’ daily grooming, add in brushing their teeth. Yes, brush your ferrets’ teeth! It’s also a good way to see if any other illnesses are developing. And remember to take your fuzzies to the vet periodically to have any stubborn tartar build-up removed.
Here, according to Getting Started with Pet Ferrets, is how to brush a ferret’s teeth:
Keep in mind, too, that fluoride is toxic to ferrets. So always use a ferret-safe tooth paste that does NOT contain fluoride.
Now, another ferret health issue that has been of interest lately is one that involves coughing, weight loss, and constipation. All of these could be signs of blockage in your ferret’s intestines or stomach. Just like cats, ferrets can get hairballs, but unlike cats, they can’t cough them up. The hairball just sits there building up into one large mass.
I give my fuzzies Ferret Lax (which I either order from Amazon or get from my local pet store) twice a week. This helps them pass the hairballs, which they can’t cough up. Rikki and Possum also like the taste.
Still, prevention is the best cure for hairball problems. I try to brush Rikki and Possum every day, especially during their shedding seasons. The shedding occurs twice a year, spring and fall. For this, I use a brush made for cats.
I want to stress that when you begin to suspect any ferret illness or ferret disease, you should take your fuzzy baby to the vet. This way, you can make sure early on that there isn’t something seriously wrong. Without proper treatment, something as seemingly inconsequential as dirty teeth or hairballs could make your ferret seriously ill or even lead to death.
My wife is the one with pet ferrets, but I’m pretty involved with them too – especially when it comes to purchasing ferret toys, ferret accessories, and ferret food. But I do like the little fuzzy guys. Still, I probably view them a little differently than my wife does.
So what is a ferret?
A ferret is small creature that possesses the attributes of several animals all rolled up together in one fuzzy package. Ferrets have the predicament-inducing curiosity of a cat, they display the self-abandoned playfulness of an otter, and they engage in the zany and often outrageous antics that dogs do. They simply can’t be safely pigeonholed. And that’s a little frustrating for guys because we like clear-cut categories. We just don’t do well with ambiguity and fluidity.
Someone once said (I think it was Chesterton) that husbands need their wives to talk to them . . . because it helps them concentrate on what they’re reading. Yes, he was being facetious, but there’s still a lot of truth in that. Husbands and wives, after the honeymoon years are past, just don’t have a lot to say to each other. But a pet ferret can help with that.
A ferret is also a convenient, shared conversation piece. Everybody in the household loves a pet ferret. And that also means that everyone is usually ready and willing to talk about the cute critters. So when the kids are grown and gone and conversation flags, a ferret is something husbands and wives can talk to each other about again – with interest.
My wife often comes running out of her room and exclaims: “Michael! You’ll never believe what Rikki and Possum just did!” To which I respond: “What?” She then proceeds to tell me, and then we talk about her ferrets for a while. Without the ferrets, I would still be reading – and we wouldn’t be talking.
Finally, and slightly related, a ferret is a marriage-saver. There is almost nothing that can lift you out of a depression or turn aside an angry mood like watching a pet ferret play. So when my wife is angry with me – gratuitously and for absolutely no justifiable reason – she will often go play with and talk to her ferrets. And then, when she comes out of her room again, she is in a good mood. Her anger has passed, and she doesn’t wish I lived somewhere else. So, thanks to Rikki and Possum, my wife’s ferrets, our marriage is still intact.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to get started with ferrets – for example, the basics of adopting a ferret, ferret cages and accessories, ferret care, and ferret health – then you’ll likely be interested in Karen’s new book. It’s titled, appropriately, Getting Started with Pet Ferrets.