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Recognising Heat Stroke in Ferrets

Recognising Heat Stroke in Ferrets

With the warmer weather here and temperatures on the rise, pet owners need to make sure their animals are kept comfortably cool. You may love it when the temperature is nice and hot, but animals have a real problem coping when it gets too warm and this includes ferrets who are prone to suffer from heat stroke and the symptoms can come on pretty rapidly!

You need to know that a ferret's health is at risk should the temperature in their environment get any higher than 80°F because unlike humans, ferrets are not able to sweat. Neither can they lower their core body temperature by panting which other animals can do. Ferrets rely on their owners to make sure they are kept cool when the temperature in a room gets too hot for them to handle.

How to Keep Your Ferret Cool thisSummer

It is really important that your pet ferret has access to plenty of fresh, clean and cool water. You may like to think about placing their plastic water bottles in the fridge so that when you put them in your pet's cage, the water will be nice and cold. If you keep indoor ferrets, you should also place water bottles in their favourite places so they also have water available to them where they like to be when they are out of their cages.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke to Watch Out For

Heat stroke in any animal is a serious condition and one which should never be taken lightly. If you do not help your pet as soon as you think there may be a problem, it could prove fatal to them. Fortunately, when a ferret suffers from heat stroke, the signs there might be something wrong are quite easy to recognise and include the following:

  • Extreme lethargy
  • Refusal to move around or very slow moving
  • Tired and constantly sleeping – ferrets do sleep a lot but when they're awake they are extremely energetic little demons – if you find they are not that keen to wake up – there is a problem!

If your pet is suffering from a severe case of heat stroke you would need to call you vet straight away as a matter of urgency. The symptoms of extreme heat stroke include the following:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Gasping for breath
  • Lying flat on the floor
  • Mucous coming out of their nose and mouth
  • Red footpads
  • Glassy eyes
  • Shallow breathing
  • Seizure

What You Should Do

The first thing you need to do is cool your ferret down slowly. You do need to act fast but the process of cooling your pet down has to be a slow process or you could send them into shock. If there is someone else at home, you should get them to call the vet immediately whilst you do the following:

  • Using a cool, wet towel gently wipe your pet making sure you go over all of their body. The towel needs to be cool but not too cold. You should start at their heads and then work your way gently down their body to their tails before going down their legs and paws. You have to do this several times taking great care not to go too fast. This will very gradually bring your pet's temperature down again.
  • If your pet is used to being bathed or being in water and many ferrets do like playing around in showers, then you could gently place them in some cool water but never put them in cold water as this may be too much of a shock to their system and which would just make their condition even worse. You need to put them in the water feet first and using a cup gently pour the cool water over them starting out at their tail and being extra careful around their heads and eyes. However, if your ferret does not like water, you should avoid doing this and just wipe them down with a cool towel.

Heat Stroke is an Extremely Serious, Life Threatening Condition

You have to remember that your pet is seriously ill if they are suffering from heat stroke. You need to act quickly but very carefully so that you don't make their condition any worse. To reassure your ferret you should talk to them constantly as this will reassure them. This is important because the chances are they are very stressed out by the whole situation. Not only will your voice put them at ease but it will help them recover that much faster too.


Once you've managed to get their temperatures down, you still need to take your pet to see the vet as quickly as you can. If fact, you should think about using a cool wet towel to cool them down on the way to the surgery. You have to bear in mind that even if you think your ferret has fully recovered from heat stroke, they can still develop a serious health issue a few days later which means you need to keep a close eye on them and if you think anything untoward is going on – get them back to the vet as soon as you can.