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Don't Forget: Ferrets Need Vaccinations, Too

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Ferrets make such lovely little pets. They snuggle, play, and love to be held. Because they are so small and are often kept, at least in part, in cages, they are sometimes lumped in with gerbils, hamsters, and other small caged pets. But ferrets are quite different from these other pets in many ways. For one, they need to see the vet for vaccinations. Here is a closer look at the two types of vaccines every ferret should get.

Rabies Vaccine

Rabies is a serious viral infection that can affect almost any mammal. It is transmissible to humans and has a 100 percent mortality rate if antivirals are not given within days of the initial exposure. The best way to protect both you and your ferret from rabies is to have your ferret vaccinated for the disease. They will need their first shot at about 12 - 16 weeks of age. Then, they will need an annual booster shot to keep their immunity up.

In most areas, rabies vaccines are required by law. So if you do not have your ferret vaccinated and he or she bites someone, you may be fined by your local health department, and your ferret may need to be put down. Luckily, the rabies vaccine is very safe, and very few ferrets have a negative reaction of any kind.


Distemper is a disease caused by a paramyxovirus which primarily infects dogs, but can also infect ferrets, foxes, skunks, and other wildlife. It causes respiratory symptoms such as nasal discharge and sneezing, along with diarrhea, loss of appetite, and serious skin rashes. Distemper is usually fatal in ferrets. There's really no treatment, although your vet can administer pain relievers and fluids to keep the ferret comfortable. Most die within a couple of weeks of becoming infected.

Since there is no treatment for distemper, and because infected ferrets can pass it onto other pets, vaccination is highly recommended. Your ferret will need his or her first shot at 8 weeks of age, followed up by two boosters at 11 and 14 weeks of age. An annual booster will keep immunity levels high.

Talk to your vet about these two essential vaccinations for ferrets. They can tell you what to expect after your ferret has a shot and answer any more in-depth questions you might have. Remember that you are responsible for your pet's health, and vaccinating them is part of that responsibility.

To learn more about pet vaccinations, reach out to a veterinarian near you.