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8 Signs Your Ferret May be Unwell

8 Signs Your Ferret May be Unwell

Health & Safety

Ferrets are lovely creatures and at times they can be extremely amusing to watch especially when they get up to their funny little antics. They are inquisitive, a little sneaky and incredibly adventurous which means they often get themselves into trouble. Then of course, ferrets really love chewing things and this mean anything they come into contact with and again, this can often mean a trip to the vet.

Because ferrets are always busy and on the move – when they are awake that is – it's important to recognise when things may not be quite right with your pet which would merit taking them to the vet to be checked over.

1. Walking Strangely or Limping

These adorable little creatures love hiding in the strangest of places which means they are pretty prone to getting injured albeit accidentally. Just by getting a foot caught in the wire on a ramp in their cages may well cause a torn ligament so if you do notice your pet limping or walking differently than usual, you should take them to the vet to have them checked over. Their injuries could be quite serious with broken bones and internal bleeding being real issues to have to deal with.

2. Crying and Shaking

When ferrets experience some sort of seizure they can often cry out quite loudly and they tend to shake quite violently. As ferrets get older, they are prone to certain cancers and this can cause reduced blood sugar levels which results in them having a seizure. However, there's another condition that affects ferrets which is very like feline infectious peritonitis which can result in your pet having a seizure. If you notice either of these symptoms, then you would need to get your ferret to the vet as a matter of urgency.

3. Having Difficulty Urinating

Ferrets can have trouble urinating for a variety of reasons. However, it's important to recognise there is a problem in the first place. If you think your pet is not urinating and you notice their litter box is just too clean or when they do try to go, they make a loud squeaking noise then you can be pretty sure they are having a problem peeing. The cause could be due to an enlarged prostate, bladder stones or a very severe bladder infection and you need to get them to the vet as soon as you can.

4. Whimpering and Abdominal Pain

If you pick up your ferret and they whimper or if you stroke their stomach or their underside and they squeak, they may well have eaten something they should not have and which might be toxic to them. Other symptoms to watch out for include the following:

  • Jaundice
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

If any of these symptoms are apparent, you need to get your pet to the vet as a matter of urgency. Any products that contain xylitol are extremely poisonous to ferrets (and other pets) which is why it is so important to make sure they cannot get at or chew on anything that may be harmful to them and this includes anything that's close to their cage.

5. No Appetite

Ferrets enjoy their food so when they suddenly show no interest when it's dinner time and hardly eat anything at all, then you should seek veterinary help as soon as you can. Your little furry friend may be suffering from stomach ulcers, they may have eaten something they should not, maybe it's because of hairballs, kidney or liver failure or they could even be developing cancer. But for whatever reason, a quick diagnosis is essential so your pet gets on the road to recovery as soon as they can.

6. Difficulty Breathing

If your pet is having difficulty breathing or their breathing is laboured, they need to be taken to the vet as soon as possible. There could be several reasons for them having trouble breathing which includes the following:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Infection
  • Infectious diseases
  • Trauma

If your ferret shows any of these symptoms, you should phone your vet and make an appointment for your pet to be checked over as a matter of urgency.

7. Changes in Colour of Gums, Lips & Nose

If you see any changes in the colour of your ferret's gums, lips or nose, this could be a sure sign they may be suffering from anaemia which is a very serious condition that would need immediate attention. Noses, lips and gums become very pale when your pet is anaemic and if there's a yellow tinge to them, this could be the beginnings of jaundice which means their liver may have been compromised.

If this is the case, your pet's urine will change colour too, turning green which could be caused by the following:

  • Heartworms
  • Anaemia
  • Bladder infections

Your pet would need to be take to the vet immediately because any of these changes can be potentially life threatening to them.

8. Post Surgery Problems

Some ferrets can experience health issues following surgery and this includes chewing out their stitches. They may run a high fever or they may even go into shock. You need to keep a close eye on them for a few days following an operation and if you find your pet feels at all warm, they may well be starting a fever. However, if your pet is cold to the touch, they could well be going into shock. You need to be sure your vet explains what may happen and how you would need to deal with your pet before taking them to the surgery in an emergency situation.


If you notice any of the above symptoms or your ferret is just not behaving as they normally do, it is really important to get them to the vet as soon as you can. The vet would be able to give them a thorough examination to determine what is wrong followed up by the right treatment to get them back on the road to recovery so they become their playful, fun and naughty selves again.