Ferret Biochemistry & Hematology Values


Bulging or swollen eyes: Glaucoma - must be treated with eye drops, this is an extremely painful condition.

Runny or watery eyes: Allergy, flu

Pus: Conjunctivitis- requires antibiotics

Brown crusting: Distemper - Quarantine immediately, 100% fatal in ferrets - humane action is to euthanize.

White spot or "disk" in eye/s: Cataract - if onset before 1 year old - treat with eye drops to prevent glaucoma

Blindness: Cataract, congenital. Retinal degeneration caused by taurine deficiency because not fed proper food for ferrets.


Sore on Nose: Infection

Runny nose, sneezing: viral infections, sneezing only - dust balls...

Short, broken whiskers; Poor nutrition, ill health

Dark pink or red; Insulinoma seizure - rub honey into gums, followed immediately by high protein food, see vet

Bright red;  Hypothermia (heat stroke) - medical EMERGENCY, needs veterinary treatment to prevent death


Black inside: Excessive dirt - Gently swab with Q-tip moistened in ferret ear cleaner

Black inside; itching Mites - see vet for appropriate treatment - DO NOT use over the counter pet store medications!

Yellow: Hepatitis - requires veterinary assessment for underlying cause

Bad smell Excessive dirt; yeast-type infection - see vet for appropriate treatment

Growth: Tumor; infected bite - see vet

Loss of hair on ears: Another ferret chewing on them or licking them

Deafness: Congenital, Wardenburg's Syndrome (panda pattern); infection from mite infestation


"Splayed" feet: Housed on wire - always cover ramps with cloth, and never house ferrets directly on wired floors

Hair loss; Age, adrenal disease - see vet for appropriate treatment if adrenal disease is suspected

Dry pads: Clay litter - substitute wood stove pellets or Yesterday's News

Dark pink pads: Insulinoma seizure - see vet for treatment

Bright red pads:  Hyperthermia (heat stroke) - medical EMERGENCY - seek veterinary intervention to prevent death

Rough, thickened pads: Distemper - Quarantine immediately, seek veterinary interventon

Roughened, scratched pads; Lost outside for significant period; housed outdoors/dirt/cement

Long quick; Not regularly clipped - trim nails once a week

Nail torn out: Caught on bedding; on cage wire - trim nails once a week to prevent

Curled toes: Age, weak hindquarters


Limping: Stepped on - x-ray to rule out fracture

Staggering: Insulinoma; stroke; ear infection

Stiffness: Arthritis; age; over-caged

Weakness in hindquarters: Age; arthritis; low blood sugar; general illness


Kinked: Previously broken; birth defect

Lump at end: Chondromas/chordomas - need to be surgically removed to prevent tumor spreading.  It is also a very painful condition for the ferret because the tumor disintegrates bone.

Black spots: Blackheads - use ferret spray-on shampoo and rub in once a day until blackheads gone

Hair loss: Blackheads; age; seasonal shedding, adrenal disease

Fur & Skin

Dry: Sleeping in litter; poor nutrition; adrenal disease, age; general illness

Black spots: Flea dirt

Fur falling out: Seasonal coat change; poor nutrition; stress; adrenal disease; flea allergy

Guard hair sparse: Regrowth of coat

Blue/black patches on skin:  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

Over shoulders: 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; adrenal disease

"Pinched" skin stays pinched: Dehydration - requires Sub-Q hydration

Wart-like growths: Skin tumors

Dark brown or black "moles": Ticks

Spot that looks like a large blood blister, bleeds off and on:  Hemangiosarcoma: requires excision, prognosis good if removed.

"Puffy," inflamed areas: Abscess

Sore slow to heal: Diabetes; adrenal disease; cancer


Coughing: Flu, heart disease; lymphosarcoma

Wheezing: Allergy; heart disease; pneumonia

Rapid breathing: Heat stroke; pain

Difficult breathing Heart disease; pneumonia; lymphosarcoma; heartworm


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


Male "dribbling" or crying: Urinary tract blockage; bladder stones; kidney infection; adrenal

disease - Blockage is a medical EMERGENCY, without treatment ferret will die a horribly painful death within 10 hours

"Sand" in urine: Bladder stones

Heavy urination &/or excessive thirst: Diabetes; kidney infection, renal failure

Inability to urinate: Kidney failure; blockage - Medical EMERGENCY

Inability to defecate: Internal blockage - requires surgical intervention to remove obstruction

Diarrhea: Dairy products; food allergies; stress; coccidia; camphobacter, poor diet

Green diarrhea: Upset stomach; stress; ECE

Dark, tarry stool: Too many raisins (DO NOT FEED RAISINS - can lead to renal failure); bleeding from ulcer

Blood in stool: Internal hemorrhage, cancer

Fabric or odd objects in stool: Eating fabric or toys - Give hairball remedy until cleared.

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

Redness anywhere on penis:  Urinary tract infection, stones, or enlarged prostate due to adrenal disease requires medical attention asap!

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

Difficulty urinating in a male: enlarged prostate due to adrenal disease, could lead to blockage, which is a medical emergency. You have 10 hours to get him to a vet or he will die a painful death.

Overall Body

Temperature over 39.4C (103F): Fever

Temperature under 35C (95F): Hypothermia; serious illness

Severe anemia: Lengthy estrus cycle; internal tumor; severely enlarged spleen

Limp upon awakening: Baby sleep; low blood sugar; insulinoma

Comatose: Insulinoma; stroke

Uncontrollable shivers/tremors: Shock; poison

Shivers brief:  Waking up; excitement

Convulsions: Insulinoma seizure; epilepsy; poison; shock

Wasting: Cancer; age; internal blockage; internal parasite

Enlarged lymph nodes: Infection; flu; lymphosarcoma

Blood sugar level under 4.5: Anorexia; insulinoma


Fainting: Insulinoma or heart block

Lethargy: Anemia; low glucose; age; heart disease; illness

"Listing " to one side: Ear infection; mites; stroke

Walking in circles: Stroke or central nervous system/brain tumor

Excessive grooming: Stress; adrenal disease

Biting when startled: Blind; deaf

Biting other ferrets: Blind; dominance issues; pain

Hopping & leaping PLAYING!

Pale gums: Anemia, low blood pressure
Red, sore or bleeding gums: Tarter buildup; gingivitis - requires dental scaling
Bluish gray gums: Lack of Oxygen
Blackened teeth: Dead tooth - may require extraction
Dark or stained teeth: Age, tetracycline as kit
Rash on chin and lips: Distemper - Quarantine immediately, 100% fatal in ferrets - euthanize to prevent horrible suffering
Drooling: Insulinoma seizure; poison - rub honeyKaro  into gums, immediately followed by high protein food i.e., A/D
Clenched teeth: Insulinoma seizure - requires veterinary intervention and treatment
Scratching at mouth: Broken tooth, nausea
Vomiting: Foreign body, ulcers, ECE; hairballs; poison - EMERGENCY take to vet!
Vomiting blood: Internal hemorrhage - EMERGENCY take to vet immediately!
Panting: Heat stroke; severe pain; insulinoma seizure - Heat stroke is a medical emergency get to vet


For more detailed information on how to deal with a ferret emergency go to: