Caring for the Elder Ferret

A ferret’s needs and activity levels change when they get older. There isn’t a set number or year when your ferret will just magically slow down. Just like us, each one is unique. The timetable can vary drastically for each ferret. A major thing to consider when a ferret needs surgery is not necessarily how old it is but how strong and well it is.

Around  the age of 2 or 3 you should get annual chemistry panels, you should do a fasting blood glucose check twice a year and you will definitely want to run an adrenal hormone panel in hopes of catching any adrenal related issues super early. I can not stress how important it is to the ferret’s life that you catch things like that early. Obviously, routine ferret checkups are recommended due to the speed in which a ferret can get sick.

One of the reasons you want to have a blood glucose test is to detect the early signs of Insulinoma. As a ferret gets older the internal body goes through drastric changes that are not visible from the outside. Some visible external changes that ARE noticeable will include things like:

  • Skin is not as tight as it used to be, and the muscles might begin to atrophy (waste).

  • Develop cataracts, lose sight and/or hearing completely.

  • Diminished taste buds.

  • Startles more easily.

  • Sleeps more, doesn’t play or interact as much.

  • Teeth loss.

  • Hind quarter weakness.

  • Wanting to be left alone more or held more.

  • Unable to climb or jump up.

  • Decreased overall mobility.

When a ferret gets older their dependency on their owner will increase drastically. Their needs will change and they will need you to assist. This may include having to rearrange the ferret cage in order to make it easier to get around in it or to even restrict height access to prevent falls. Older ferrets may even have to be sectioned off from the younger ones. This is even more crucial when special care is required for them. The key to a happy older ferret is to keep it as stress free as possible. Making sure the animal is extremely comfortable during this time helps as well.

Older ferrets will still need exercise and that is going to become a chore. You have to find new ways to entertain your weasel to make sure they are getting the required physical activity. Duck soup may be required because of the inability to eat kibble, though this varies from ferret to ferret. Sometimes your ferret may require syringe feeding every 3 to 4 hours in order to make sure they are getting proper food intake. Fluid intake is just as important as a ferret can get dehydrated very quickly.

Arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other items of this nature are very possible for a ferret to develope. Extremely special care is needed in situations like this. Ferret wheelchairs are even accessible for your animal when it gets to where paralysis or hind leg weakness occurs. These things are awesome and “The Ferret Flyer” produces them. They are very dedicated to the cause, love ferrets, and make them by hand individually.

In closing, one of the most important things you can do, if not THE most important thing you can do, is provide unconditional love and frequent medical exams. You want your ferret to be as comfortable as possible as you provide for their ever changing needs to make sure that they experience a high quality of life. Ferrets will give you all the love they have and they deserve to have every ounce you can provide them.

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