Vaccination Requirements For Ferrets

Ferrets are normally vaccinated against only two diseases:

  • Canine Distemper
  • Rabies

Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper is a painful and almost always fatal disease for a ferret. The only cure is prevention, which is what makes giving this vaccine so important. If your ferret comes into contact with other animals, such as dogs, the need to vaccinate is even more important since dogs are often carriers of the disease.

Kits who have never been vaccinated will need to receive a series of 3 injections. The first rounds are given to a young ferret at between 6 and 14 weeks of age, followed by yearly booster shots.

Older ferrets whose history is unknown are given a series of 2 injections at a 3-week interval followed by a yearly booster shot.

Rabies

Rabies in ferrets is extremely rare since they would first need to come in contact with an animal that carries the disease. For ferrets who are housebound animals, that’s not likely to happen. This vaccine is given because it is required by law.

Young ferrets normally receive this vaccination for the first time at about 3 months of age, ferrets older than 3 months with an unknown vaccination history should be given the vaccine immediately, and all ferrets should follow with an annual booster shot.

Vaccine Reactions

It’s not uncommon for recently vaccinated ferrets to experience mild reactions in the day or two following the injection. They may act tired, show mild flu-like symptoms or vomit a little. If it lasts more than a day or two, if the ferret is having trouble breathing, or if the reaction appears extreme, call your vet for advice.

Extremely negative reactions to vaccines are rare, but happen occasionally and can be severe. Giving initial dosages each several weeks apart as recommended is believed to help reduce the risk.

In the rare instance that a severe reaction to a vaccine happens, it normally develops within the first hour and the signs are hard to miss:  vomiting, diarrhea or loss of bladder/bowel control, nausea, dizziness, dark bluish-purple blotches spreading under the skin, difficulty breathing; discolored gums, ears, feet or nose, seizures, convulsions, or passing out, as well as anything else you determine to be unusual.

If any of these symptoms develop you should return to your veterinarian immediately for further treatment. You may also want to consider the pros and cons for leaving your ferret un-vaccinated in the future.