If you are worried about your ferret losing hair and scratching, this article is for you. You should know that there can be a reason why your ferret is scratching a lot, which further leads to hair loss. In this article, I will discuss five reasons your pet might be losing hair and scratching.
Along with the reasons, we will also discuss what you can do about it and how to prevent it from happening again. So, if you want to learn why ferret scratching and losing hair makes them unsightly, read this article. Let’s begin with learning three reasons my ferret is losing hair and scratching.
Ferret Losing Hair And Scratching: 3 Reasons & Treatment Options
Maybe your ferret is suffering from a parasite infestation that might be causing them lots of itching & hair loss. You should know parasite Infestation is a common problem in pet ferrets. And it can affect any pet of any age & sex. You should also know that your ferret may or may not be itching, depending on the sensitivity of the individual animals to parasite bites.
There are five main types when understanding the most common parasites in ferrets. You should consult a veterinarian to understand what type of parasite has affected your ferret, leading to intense scratching and hair loss. Your veterinarian will be the best person to diagnose what type of parasite infestation has caused sudden itching, scratching & hair loss. Below, I have given the five most parasites affecting ferrets.
Flea interstation is a very common parasite that affects ferrets, resulting in lots of biting, licking, chewing, and scratching. In the early stage, your ferret may not exhibit any symptoms of fleas infestation, even if it has fleas. If you have a ferret suffering from flea infestation, it is likely to exhibit the following symptoms.
- Hair Loss
- Skin Irritation
- Anaemia (in severe cases)
- Secondary Infections (fever, lethargy, & weight loss)
Fortunately, many types of topical medication can help your ferret find some relief. However, I will highly advise you to consult with a vet with experience and familiarity with ferrets. According to the VCA hospitals, medication like advantage® or revolution® appear to be very safe for ferrets but make sure to get the one labeled for use in ferrets. Also, there are alternative flea medications like topical flea powders, premise spray, or even professional pest exterminators that can be safely used but should only be given under the guidance of a veterinarian,
Another parasite that is very common in ferrets and tends to be very tiny is said to be mites. You should note that there can be many types of mites, but some of the most common that usually affect our Pet ferret living indoors are said to be scabies mites. Note that scabies mites can also cause a condition called scabies in your pet ferret, which may cause intense scratching, skin irritation, & hair loss. If your ferret is suffering from scabies mites, your pet is likely to exhibit the following signs:
- Intense Itching & Scratching
- Crusty Skin
- Red Bumps
- Hair Loss (of course)
- Skin Irritation (leading to scratching)
Note: Petmd suggests that there is no medication found to be effective on the mite’s eggs. Therefore, be ready for routine treatment that will be repeated every one or two weeks.
Another common parasite that is known to affect ferrets is said to be ear mites. You can find ear mites in your pet’s ear channel, which cause inflammation, itching, and discharge in severe cases. According to Vets4Pets, if your ferret is suffering from ear mite infestation, your pet is likely to exhibit the following symptoms:
- Redness & Crusting
- Excessive grooming (Scratching Included)
- Excessive Ear Dry / Wax Buildup
- Hair Loss Patches
In addition, if your ferret is suffering from this kind of infection, it will have very smelly & dark-colored ear wax, usually black or grey. Unfortunately, no ferret-specific drugs can help you manage mites in your ferret. Veterinarians are likely to recommend or use topical medication designed for dogs & cats to treat mites in ferrets. As per my research, topical cat medications like Ivermectin and Revolution® can help your pet find some relief and get rid of these symptoms.
Another common parasite that is normally found on the skin of pet ferrets is said to be Demodex mites. Demodex is also known to cause problems like excessive scratching, hair loss, and skin irritation. According to the National Institute of Health, Demodex, also known as Demodex canis, can cause a condition called demodicosis in ferrets (a rare condition).
However, demodicosis is usually reported in the ferret already suffering from localized alopecia. As per ScienceDirect, his mite is also known to inhabit ferret external canals, which further causes ceruminous otitis externa, the variable pruritic. If your ferret is suffering from Demodex mite, they’re likely to exhibit the following symptoms:
- Hair Loss
- Smelly Discharge Redness & Inflammation On Skin
While researching, I learned that Ivermectin at 200–600 μg/kg and oral milbemycin at 1–2 mg/kg/day effectively treat generalized demodicosis. Ensure you are not offering this to your pet before consulting a veterinarian.
Lastly, another common parasite that can affect your ferret is Ticks, also known as Ixodus spp. Tick infestation has been frequently noticed in ferrets that are housed outdoors. Also, the National Institute of Health suggests that ticks are one of the most common & important vectors of arthropod-borne diseases. If your ferret suffers from tick infestation, your pet will likely exhibit the following symptoms.
- Hard But Small Bumps Or Sores On The Skin.
- Redness Or Swelling.
- Unexplained Weight Loss.
- Fever and lethargy.
Talking about the treatment available for tick infestation, wikiHow pet suggests that fipronil or selamectin can eliminate symptoms associated with tick infestation in ferrets. You can also remove ticks using a special tool called tick hook as they are inexpensive & can prove to be an invaluable piece of kit. Ivermectin injection can also be given to ferrets to get rid of tick infestation, but it must be done under a veterinarian’s guidance & observation.
Maybe your ferret is scratching often, leading to unwanted hair loss only because of a skin infection. Also, you should note that allergic reactions may force the ferret to scratch a lot, leading to hair loss. Some of the most common skin infections, as well as allergic reactions in ferrets that have been frequently seen, are the following:
According to Vetlexicon, dermatomycosis or dermatophytosis is not common in ferrets. However, it can be seen in a highly stressed ferret, young, or malnourished. Sometimes, immunosuppressed ferrets also suffer from dermatomycosis. MSG veterinary manual suggests that dermatophytosis is typically a superficial skin infection that can be seen in ferrets. According to the VCA Hospital, if you are ferret is suffering from ringworm, also called dermatophytosis, it is likely to exhibit the following symptoms:
- Thick & Red Skin
- Crusty Skin
- Well-Defined Areas Of Hair Loss
- Dry Flaky Skin
As per many ferret experience owners & suggestions, this fungal disease is uncommon in ferrets and can resolve independently. However, getting your pet checked by a veterinarian is a must because it can also be contagious to you. Talking about the treatment, Midog suggests that topical lime sulfur dips or miconazole/chlorhexidine shampoo baths can help in treating dermatophytosis in ferrets. Depending on the severity & condition of your pet, veterinarians may also recommend antibiotic treatment plans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cheyletiellosis can also be seen in ferrets. This condition is a mild skin infection caused by parasitic mites that feed on our pet’s skin cells. However, you should note that this kind of disease is rare and usually spreads through contact with other animals. Also, anyone can get this disease, but it’s rare. Fortunately, this condition is not deadly and doesn’t cause any severe disease in ferrets. However, you might notice your ferret exhibiting the following symptoms if it suffers from cheyletiellosis.
- Hair Loss
- Itching Because Of Skin Irritation
- White Dandruff (Looks Like Walking Sometimes)
Unfortunately, no specific medication or drug for ferrets is designed to treat this condition. However, depending on the severity of the condition, your veterinarian may recommend Moxidectin, Selamectin, or the use of selenium sulfide shampoo. Always consult with the veterinarian before trying to treat any condition on your pet because these medications are not specifically licensed for Cheyletiella.
Even though allergic reaction is rare in pet ferrets, the prevalence of allergy can be similar to other pet allergies. Also, the allergic reaction is not well studied in ferrets. However, if your pet suffers from an allergic reaction, it will likely exhibit the following symptoms.
- Allergic Rhinitis
- Allergic Conjunctivitis
Depending upon the severity, your veterinarian also recommends homemade extract for skin testing to suspect any ferret allergens. As I told you, only a few studies have been performed on ferrets that show certain proteins causing the allergies, frequently found in their hair, urine, feces, saliva, and bedding material.
You should note that the male ferret urine may contain the most potent allergen. According to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the most common allergen that was frequently found in ferret urine is said to be High MW allergens. However, if you have any other pets with fur, your ferret can be allergic to it. To know more about allergic reactions in ferrets, more in-depth studies & research are required.
Now I hope you understand the reason behind your ferret using hair & scratching a lot. No matter the culprit, you should first get your pet diagnosed at the nearest pet clinic specializing in ferrets. A veterinarian experienced in ferret care will effectively identify & eliminate any potential issue that might be causing your ferret to scratch & lose hair.
No matter the condition or how severe it looks, you should avoid giving any medications, especially those listed here, before consulting a veterinarian. All the treatment available for certain conditions mentioned here is for educational purposes. If you find this article helpful, then consider sharing it.
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