You should vaccinate your ferret for canine (not feline) distemper at eight weeks of age, and a booster should be given at eleven and fourteen weeks of age. After this initial sequence, your ferret can be vaccinated for canine distemper on a yearly basis. Canine distemper is one hundred percent fatal to ferrets, so vaccinating your ferret is very important. You should request a canine distemper vaccine that is "pure," meaning that it does not contain vaccines for any other condition or species. There is a USDA approved vaccine for ferrets called FerVac-D.
It is important to note that there have been some serious allergic reactions to FerVac-D (one of my ferrets became quite ill), so keep a close eye on your ferret after the shot is administered. Some possible symptoms of adverse reaction could be seizure, difficulty in breathing, lethargy, blue coloration of the gums, ears and/or nose, vomiting, diarrhea, or non-responsive collapse. These symptoms can appear ten to fifteen minutes after the vaccination, so you may want to wait in the veterinary office for twenty to thirty minutes after the vaccination. If these symptoms start to occur at home or on the way home, turn the car around and take your ferret back to the veterinarian immediately! Don't wait until you get home to see if your ferret will feel better. Some ferrets have died from this reaction. Your veterinarian can stop the reaction before it is too late.
Your ferret should also be vaccinated against rabies. You should give your ferret a rabies shot at sixteen weeks of age and then yearly. You may be able to minimize the chance of adverse vaccine reaction by spacing out the distemper and rabies vaccinations from one another. Some states and counties have laws which require a ferret to be killed after a bite incident if the ferret's rabies vaccinations are not up to date. Please be responsible and protect your ferret by keeping his/her vaccinations up to date.
Ferrets will usually feel "under the weather" after being vaccinated and may just want to curl up and sleep after the injection. Be sure to keep your ferrets in a confined area for a few hours or more after the vaccinations so that any adverse reactions can be observed and reported to your veterinarian.
A Word About Heart worms
It is important to note that ferrets are at risk for heart worm disease, even though they are primarily indoor animals (mosquitos can and do get indoors). Just one bite from an infected mosquito can lead to severe illness or death for your ferret. If you live in an area that has mosquitos, you should be giving your ferret a monthly heart worm prevention medication. Contact your veterinarian to discuss the different heart worm prevention medications that are available for ferrets.
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The information provided in this section is not intended to be used in place of proper veterinary care. This web site contains the opinions of the writer. The reader of this site must use this information at his or her own risk.