Ferrets are healthy animals and will rarely suffer to get worms. I think this is because they do not get to interact with the wildlife at all. Therefore, when well taken care of, your ferret will rarely contract worms.
However, this is not to rule out the possibility of ferrets getting worms. I must mention that it is easy for a ferret to have external parasites than internal. So, you will occasionally have to deal with fleas and other external parasites often than you will experience intestinal worms.
In this article, I am going to look at some of the common worm and parasitic diseases your ferret can contract.
Coccidiosis in ferrets
This is the most common parasitic disease in ferrets. Sadly, it is very contagious for both pets and humans. If your dog has been taking some time to roam in the neighborhood, he could bring it to your ferret.
This illness is passed from one subject to another through contact with fecal matter that is infected. It is a common protozoan disease in baby ferrets than adult ferrets.
Some of the signs and symptoms of coccidiosis include diarrhea, weakness, and weight loss. It is difficult to declare that a ferret has coccidiosis just because of these symptoms. Remember these are also symptoms of the common ferret illnesses.
The symptoms of this infection will largely depend on the stage of the illness. They might change as the infection progresses. Other symptoms that you might also observe include an upset stomach and lethargy.
Diagnosis and treatment
The diagnosis of coccidia will involve examining your ferret’s waste. If your ferret has the coccidiosis, your vet will recommend antiparasitic medication. In some cases, your ferret might put on antibiotics as well since the illness comes from a protozoan parasite.
Note that coccidiosis can turn out to be a serious illness if left untreated. It could cause secondary illnesses to your ferret.
Giardia in ferrets
Even though rare, ferrets can also get the giardia parasite. Once again, parasitic infections in ferrets are likely to happen when you have more than one pet in the house. These parasites will attach themselves to the intestinal wall of your ferret.
As a result, you will notice that your ferret has started losing weight drastically. Also, giardia infestation is characterized by mucus in poop, diarrhea, and bloating causing distended stomach.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell if your ferret has giardia. This is because it is almost impossible to examine under a microscope. To do so, your vet will have to take a swab in your fuzzy friend’s rectum. Otherwise, he might use fresh poop to check for Giardia parasites.
The parasitic infection is transmitted from one pet to another through contact or eating infected fecal matter.
Luckily for you, it is a very rare infection in ferrets. However, if your ferret has giardia, then the vet might recommend oral medication for treatment.
Other intestinal parasites
Because ferrets spend their entire life at home, it is unlikely that you will have to deal with the parasitic infestation. However, this does not exempt them from getting intestinal worms. Now, these could range from roundworms, tapeworms, flukes, and even hookworms.
However, almost all these worms will exhibit the same set of symptoms. These may include the following:
- Dry coat
- Loss of weight
- A sudden increase in appetite
- Blood in poop
- Mucus in poop
So, to answer your question, ferrets can also get worms. Should you notice the set of the above-listed symptoms, take your ferret to the vet for further examination. Treatment of worms in ferrets will vary based on the type of worm you are dealing with.
Note that you must get your ferret treated otherwise you risk him developing secondary infections. Sometimes your ferret can develop chronic digestive issues when you leave him untreated.
Heartworm disease in ferrets
Once again, this is a rare occurrence but if you live in an area with mosquitoes, your ferret can contract the heartworm disease. This illness if passed on from one pet to another through mosquito bites. Unfortunately, a ferret has a small heart. As a result, single heartworm can kill your furry friend.
It is a difficult illness to examine let alone treat. This means that you must protect your ferret from mosquitoes. The signs of heartworm infestation resemble that of heart failure. Well, if your ferret is experiencing difficulty breathing and a chronic cough, consult your vet.
How to minimize chances of parasite infestations
Above, we have looked at some of the most common worms in ferrets. Well, while it is rare to deal with intestinal worms, some ferrets contract these worms anyways. The best way of dealing with these infestations is by total prevention.
The following measures should help you prevent a parasitic infestation;
- Treat all your pets. If you have other pets in the house, I advise you to treat them to prevent intestinal worms. When you do so, you are preventing a possible re-infestation. Talk to your vet and ensure that your pets are treated regularly against the common worms such as roundworms and tapeworms.
- Keep your ferret’s litter box clean. As you can see, most intestinal parasites and worms are as a result of contact with fecal matter. Well, ensure you scoop your ferret’s poop as soon as he eliminates. This is especially important if you have two ferrets sharing the same cage. If one is infected, you would have to treat both of them.
- Disinfect your ferret’s toys. Of course, you have bought your fuzzy pet a few toys to keep him busy. What you might not know is that ferrets are chewy. They love to mouth and chew small items. If the toys have been contaminated, there is a chance that your ferret could become infected with parasites. Therefore, you must remember to clean them and disinfect them every few days.
- Clean your ferret’s food bowl and provide clean water. If you have been giving your ferret infected tap water, he could contract a parasitic illness, perhaps coccidiosis. To prevent this from happening, use clean drinking water and ensure that his food bowls are always clean.
Ferrets can get worms even though rare. It all depends on his living conditions and also how well you take care of him. Since they spend most of their time in their cages, ferrets will not associate with other pets or wildlife.
However, if you suspect that your ferret has worms, you should check in with your vet immediately. It is important to have all your pets checked and dewormed regularly. This will prevent worms and other parasites infestation.
Our Ferret Care Guide
As you can see on the About Us page on this site my son Bobby and I are experienced, ferret keepers and breeders. We have experienced all the problems associated with ferrets.
Some time ago we became aware that there wasn’t a complete Ferret guide available anywhere. With that in mind, we decided to write our own guide, especially for new owners.