Conditons and Diseases that are Commonplace in Ferrets

Photo by Tetting - Ferret in the garden

Adrenal Disease

One very common disorder that occurs in ferrets is adrenal disease. Growths or swelling of the adrenal gland normally needs surgical treatment. Exterior indicators are  fur loss, typically commencing on the tail and moving forwards. Occasionally the rear of the neck will lose hair. In some instances, the vulva of females can become enlarged. If left untreated, it will be terminal. However, the chances of recovery are excellent if the disease is detected early enough .

Aleutian Disease Virus

Aleutian Disease Virus (ADV)  is a parvovirus that may infect ferrets and their close relatives,  minks for example. The disease causes abnormal and rapid weight-loss. There is no known cure but, while it can be fatal,  in a large number of cases its symptoms can be treated. Due to the fact that the disease is also passed on via urine and feces, it is possible for a ferret that is a carrier of the virus to remain unaffected but infect other animals. Testing reveals whether or not an animal is carrying the virus so it is important that a new ferret is examined prior to introducing  it  into the”family”. The most common test used is to detect ADV is Counter Immune ElectroPhoresis (known as CEP or CIEP).

Epizootic Catarrhal Enteritis

Epizootic Catarrhal Enteritis, (ECE) which is also popularly known as Green Slime Disease, is an inflammation of the mucous membranes. It causes green, slimy, foul-smelling diarrhea. The disorder might continue for just one week or perhaps two and then disappear with out any treatment.  However in approximately 20% of cases it may end up being more serious,and your pet might simply waste away. Whatever the situation, if your ferret shows symptoms of this disease you really should seek treatment as soon as you possibly can. The disease has only been known about  for just over ten years and it is still being researched. There are various treatments for the condition , including the administration of slippery elm bark powder, but this should only be administered by a veterinarian.

Ear Conditions

Ferrets, like many other animals can get ear mites and therefore cleaning their ears is very important. A weak solution of ear cleanser helps to loosen any wax build up. Subsequently  your ferret  will shake their heads  to dislodge and expel  the ear wax. Should your ferret get ear mites, treat them with  ear cleanser and then some Tresaderm. This ought to be continued each day for  a minimum period of a week. Examine his ears with a torch and a magnifier which will make it easier for you to find any material that may still be in the ear.   Because your ferret’s ear canal is L-shaped, it is normally quite difficult to inadvertently puncture his ear drums. However that said, their ears are sensitive so be very careful.


Like many other mammals, including humans, the older your ferret gets  the more likely it is  to develop cancers or other tumors. Several of these can be treated with  surgery, but unfortunately others will eventually kill the ferret. It should be remembered that ferrets are no more likely to get  cancer at a young age than dogs or people. Ferrets are extremely curious and inquisitive creatures, therefore, it is imperative to make sure that they do not come into direct contact with several common domestic products which may increase the chances of them getting cancers. Benzene and various other organic solvents are recognized to raise the risk. Make sure you  ferret proof your home.

About the Author

Paul writes small pet articles as a hobby. He lives in the Italian Alps with his long-suffering partner and threevery spoilt cats...

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