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Common Symptoms and Possible Causes

Note: Consult with your vet if your ferret is acting unusual! While you are "the first line of defense" for your pet's health, a trained professional can help ascertain what the combination of symptoms may mean. A vet, not your spouse, best friend, other ferret owner, or the local shelter, is the BEST QUALIFIED person to advise you if your animal needs immediate veterinary attention. Please be advised this listing is by no means exhaustive!


Eyes Mouth Nose
Ears Paws Legs
Tail Fur & Skin Lungs
Stomach/Spleen Urination/Defecation Reproductive Organs
Overall Body Behavior  

Eyes  

     Bulging or swollen eyes

Glaucoma

     Runny or watery eyes

Allergy, cold
     Pus Conjunctivitis
     Brown crusting Distemper
     White spot or "disk" in eye/s Cataract
     Blindness Cataract
Mouth  
     Pale gums Anemia, low blood pressure
     Red, sore or bleeding gums Tarter buildup; gingivitis
     Bluish gray gums Lack of Oxygen
     Blackened teeth Dead tooth
     Dark or stained teeth Age, tetracycline as kit

     Rash on chin and lips

Distemper

     Drooling

Insulinoma seizure; poison

     Clenched teeth

Insulinoma seizure

     Scratching at mouth

Broken tooth, nausea

     Vomiting

Foreign body, ulcers, ECE; hairballs; poison

     Vomiting blood

Internal hemorrhage

     Panting

Heat stroke; severe pain; insulinoma seizure
Nose  

     Sore on Nose

Infection

     Runny nose, sneezing

Runny nose, sneezing

     Short, broken whiskers

Poor nutrition, ill health

     Dark pink or red

Insulinoma seizure

     Bright red

Hypothermia (heat stroke)
Ears  

     Black inside

Excessive dirt

     Black inside, itching

Mites

     Yellow

Hepatitis

     Bad smell

Excessive dirt; yeast-type infection

     Growth

Tumor; infected bite

     Loss of hair on ears

Another ferret chewing on them

     Deafness

Congenital, Wardenburg's Syndrome (panda pattern); infection
Paws  

     "Splayed" feet

Housed on wire

     Hair loss

Age, adrenal disease

     Dry pads

Clay litter

     Dark pink pads

Insulinoma seizure

     Bright red pads

Hyperthermia (heat stroke)

     Rough, thickened pads

Distemper

     Roughened, scratched pads

Lost outside for significant period; housed outdoors/dirt/cement

     Long quick

Not regularly clipped

     Nail torn out

Caught on bedding; on cage wire

     Curled toes

Age, weak hindquarters
Legs  

     Limping

Stepped on

     Staggering

Insulinoma; stroke; ear infection

     Stiffness

Arthritis; age; over-caged

     Weakness in hindquarters

Age; arthritis; low blood sugar; general illness
Tail  

     Kinked

Previously broken; birth defect

     Lump at end

Chondromas

     Black spots

Blackheads

     Hair loss

Blackheads; age; adrenal disease
Fur & Skin  

     Dry

Sleeping in litter; poor nutrition; age; general illness

     Black spots

Flea dirt

     Fur falling out

Seasonal coat change; poor nutrition; stress; flea allergy

     Guard hair sparse

Regrowth of coat

     Thinning

Age; unnatural light cycle; adrenal disease; in heat or rut

     Pattern Loss: At base of tail

Adrenal disease
                          Along side back Adrenal disease
                          Up back Adrenal disease

     "Graying"

Natural silvering pattern; age

     Flaking skin

Flea dermatitis; poor nutrition; allergies; over-shampooing

     Yellowed

Hepatitis

     Reddened, rough skin

Allergies; fleas; sunburn; bites from others

     "Pinched" skin stays pinched

Dehydration

     Wart-like growths

Skin tumors

     Dark brown or black "moles"

Ticks

     "Puffy," inflamed areas

Abscess

     Sore slow to heal

Diabetes; adrenal disease; cancer
Lungs  

     Coughing

Cold, heart disease; lymphosarcoma

     Wheezing

Allergy; heart disease; pneumonia

     Rapid breathing

Heat stroke; pain

     Difficult breathing

Heart disease; pneumonia; lymphosarcoma; heartworm
Stomach/Spleen  

     Stomach distension

Intestinal blockage; heart disease; poison; internal tumor

     "Lopsided" abdomen

Enlarged spleen

     Hardened area along abdomen

Enlarged spleen

     Anorexia

Stomach or mouth ulcers; ECE
Urination/Defacation  

     Male "dribbling" or crying

Urinary tract blockage; bladder stones; kidney infection; adrenal disease

     "Sand" in urine

Bladder stones

     Heavy urination &/or excessive thirst

Diabetes; kidney infection

     Inability to urinate

Kidney failure; blockage

     Inability to defecate

Internal blockage

     Diarrhea

Dairy products; food allergies; stress; coccidia; camphobacter

     Green diarrhea

Upset stomach; stress; ECE

     Dark, tarry stool

Too many raisins; bleeding

     Blood in stool

Internal hemorrhage, cancer

     Fabric or odd objects in stool

Eating fabric or toys

     Frequent, small stool

Poor rectal muscles

     Protrusion from anus

Rectal prolapse

     Draining area near anus

Anal gland impaction
Reproductive Organs  

     Bleeding penis

Caught on something

     Growth on penis

Tumor

     "Dragging" penis across things

Territorial marking; adrenal disease

     Swollen vulva

In heat; leftover ovarian tissue; adrenal disease

     Pus or discharge from vulva

Infection; adrenal disease
Overall Body  

     Temperature over 103

Fever

     Temperature under 95

Hypothermia; serious illness

     Severe anemia

Lengthy heat cycle; internal tumor; severely enlarged spleen

     Limp upon awakening

Baby sleep; low blood sugar; insulinoma

     Comatose

Insulinoma; stroke
     Uncontrollable shivers/tremors Shock; poison

     Convulsions

Insulinoma seizure; epilepsy; poison; shock

     Wasting

Cancer; age; internal blockage; internal parasite

     Enlarged lymph nodes

Infection; cold/flu; lymphosarcoma

     Blood sugar level under 80

Anorexia; insulinoma
Behavior  

     Fainting

Insulinoma

     Lethargy

Anemia; low glucose; age; heart disease; illness

     "Listing " to one side

Ear infection; mites; stroke

     Walking in circles

Stroke

     Excessive grooming

Stress; adrenal disease

     Biting when startled

Blind; deaf

     Biting other ferrets

Blind; dominance issues

     Hopping & leaping   

PLAYING!

Compiled and written by L. Vanessa Gruden 1997
Selected sources:
Pamela T. Grant, Diagnosing Problems with Ferrets, STAR* Newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 2
Susan A. Brown, D.V.M., Most Common Health Problems of the Ferret, published various places
Matt Jones, D.V.M., Before You Make that Emergency Call, Weasel Help Monthly, Volume 4, Numbers 3 & 4
Elizabeth Hillyer, DVM & Katherine Queensbury, DVM, Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents, W.B. Saunders, 1997

 

 

 

 

 

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