Signs of a Sick Ferret

Potentially sick ferret in its bed

Ferrets are among the healthiest pets. However, it does not mean that they do not get ill. And unfortunately, ferrets are very good at hiding pain. If you fail to spend enough time with your ferret, you could miss noticing the signs of a sick ferret.

If you are the primary caregiver to your ferret, you must be able to identify simple changes in your ferret behavior. Even the slightest changes can be an indicator of an illness. In this article, I am going to outline the signs of a sick ferret.

Now, the signs of a sick ferret will vary depending on the illness. Below, I will outline the common ferret illnesses as we explore the signs of illness.

What are some of the most common ferret illnesses?

Are you suspecting that your ferret is ill? Well, ferrets are prone to several illnesses, most of which are preventable. Proper ferret care is, therefore, necessary to keep a ferret healthy. For instance, these pets are prone to developing respiratory issues. However, with proper and hygienic maintenance, your ferret is less likely to get ill.

Some of the common illnesses in ferrets include:

Human influenza better is known as a common cold

Did you know that you can transmit a common cold to your ferret? Well, if the flu season is approaching, I suggest you both get that shot. Well, a ferret with a cold will exhibit symptoms similar to that of human influenza.

Some of the signs that your ferret has a cold include sneezing and coughing. You might also observe running nose and very high fever. These symptoms will last a few days, probably 4 days to two weeks. Should they persist, consider taking your ferret to the vet.

The ferret common cold should not be taken lightly especially in kits and older ferrets. There have been cases where a ferret common cold turned out fatal. Therefore, if the symptoms persist for more than the expected days, then you might want to go to the vet.

Understand that the flu is contagious. This means that you can give your ferret the virus and vice versa. If you have a cold, ask someone else to help you care for your ferret. If your ferret has a cold, ensure that he gets enough fluids to avoid dehydration.

Insulinoma in ferrets

Insulinoma is the development of tumors in a ferret’s pancreas. As I indicated above most illnesses in ferrets are a result of improper care. The tumors trigger the pancreas to overproduce insulin. As a result, your ferret will have low blood sugar, which is fatal.

Now, you will need to be very careful with insulinoma as it is quite gradual. It will start with slow and maybe unnoticeable. As time passes, it will develop into a serious illness and even become fatal. Your vet should be able to examine your ferret before providing a conclusive diagnosis.

Afterward, your vet might suggest surgery to treat insulinoma. Alternatively, you can use medication to manage the condition.

Signs of insulinoma might include lethargy, depression, weight loss, decreased appetite, and seizures. This condition requires immediate medical attention before it gets fatal.


Ferrets are prone to getting heatstroke, especially during the summer seasons. Their sweat glands are not well-formed. This means that too much heat could lead to exhaustion. Keep the temperatures at optimal levels.

Also, avoid keeping your ferret’s cage right in direct sunlight.

Dilated cardiomyopathy in ferrets

This is a fatal heart disease that can cause the death of your ferret instantly. Unfortunately, most commercial ferret foods contain Taurine as an ingredient. This ingredient plays a role in promoting heart failure in ferrets.

General body weakness is a common symptom in ferrets with heart failure. Your ferret might also start coughing and experiencing trouble breathing.  Your vet will examine your ferret and recommend the best medication to manage the condition.

It can be difficult to diagnose this illness at first. However, as it progresses with time, it can turn out to be quite fatal.

Intestinal obstruction

Ferrets are curious and also thieves. They are capable of stealing your small items and hide them from you. Well, not only do they hide but can also eat your stuff. Unfortunately, if your ferret cannot digest any of these ingested items, he will possibly suffer from an intestinal obstruction.

If your ferret does not seem to eat or eliminate normally, it could be that he ingested non-food items. Well, in addition, your ferret will start getting weak as he is not eating. I suggest you check with your vet to determine why he does not want to eat.

Unfortunately, intestinal obstruction can be quite fatal for your ferret. Your vet might perform a quick surgery to remove the object from your ferret’s body.

It is almost impossible to highlight all the illnesses a ferret could contract in one article however, We have compiled the most comprehensive Ferret care Guide and more information is available to you at the end of this article. While we have looked at the common illnesses in ferrets, you should seek professional advice should you notice any changes in his health and overall behavior.

Do ferrets get sick often?

Ferrets are generally healthy pets. What’s more, they are playful, social and quite friendly. Even though these pets rarely fall ill, they are prone to certain diseases. However, most of these illnesses are out of improper care.

For instance, if you keep your ferret in a hot environment, he is likely to suffer heatstroke. At the same time, using the incorrect type of litter could possibly lead to respiratory issues. For this reason, you must understand the proper care for ferrets.

Failure to giving proper dental care for your ferret could also result in dental diseases. I have previously discussed the proper way to brush your ferret’s teeth. During your yearly visits to the vet, you might as well cater to his dental care needs. However, brush your ferret’s teeth every other week to remove plaque that could lead to the ferret periodontal disease.

With the regular ferret checkups, your ferret should enjoy a long and healthy lifespan.

General signs of a sick ferret

It is not always easy to notice a sick ferret. It is because these creatures are great at hiding the symptoms of an illness. Therefore, you must be cautious enough to notice the slightest change in his behavior.

Well, I always urge ferret owners to spend quality time with their pets. When you spend 2-4 hours with your ferret every day, you will be able to monitor his behavior. Now, without having to specify the illness, observe your ferret for any of the following symptoms.


Yes, gross but also concerning. Vomiting is not normal in ferrets and other pets for that matter. If you find your ferret vomiting, you should be concerned. It could indicate various forms of illnesses. You will need a vet to diagnose your ferret to tell what your fuzzy friend is suffering from.

At the same time, vomiting could be a result of dietary changes. For instance, if you have changed your ferret’s diet from dry food to a raw diet, it could trigger vomiting.

Note that vomiting can be a symptom of different illnesses. Your vet should be able to diagnose the cause of your ferret vomiting.


Observe your ferret for lumps, swelling and also wounds. Ferrets are curious and mischievous. They can get injured in different scenarios. If you have two ferrets, they can get into a fight and scratch each other trying to establish dominance.

Should you observe any lumps on his skin, or swelling, I suggest you check in with your vet. It could be an indication of serious conditions such as lymphoma.

Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding is often a sign of pain. However, your ferret can also grind his teeth if he is struggling to chew new food. As I have mentioned above, ferrets can hide pain and discomfort. Do not ignore teeth grinding as it could be a sign of a fatal illness.

You might hear your ferret grinding his teeth for the first few days. In most cases, ferrets can get stressed when moved to a new home. However, it should go away in a few days.

When your ferret starts grinding his teeth suddenly, it could be a sign of a fatal illness. Check with your vet to rule out the possibility of an illness such as insulinoma.

Hair loss

Hair loss is a common sign of adrenal disease. However, ferrets will naturally shed their hair during seasonal change. For instance, your ferret will shed his summer coat and grow a thicker coat for winter.

If your ferret is losing hair for none of these reasons, it could mean that he is sick, or infested with parasites.

Other signs of a sick ferret include:

  • Excessive itching
  • Excessive drinking
  • Constipation
  • poop color change

You must spend a considerable amount of time to understand the signs of a sick ferret. Observe your ferret during playtime, and even when he is in his cage. Also, do not skip the regular annual check-ups with your vet.

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