Ferrets are susceptible to a variety of viral diseases that can cause serious illness and death.
Distemper, the same virus that causes the disease in dogs, is a very serious disease that almost always causes death in unvaccinated ferrets. Distemper virus is common in the Phoenix Metro area. Even ferrets that never go outside should have distemper vaccinations. Contact with an infected dog or ferret is not the only way your ferret can be infected. You can bring the deadly virus into your home indirectly on clothes, shoes, or other items after being in close proximity to where an infected animal has been. There is test that allows you to know if your ferret's previous vaccine is still providing protection. A distemper titer measures the antibodies in your ferret's blood. If the distemper titer is adequate, your ferret can go another year without a distemper vaccine. If the distemper titer is low, then your ferret should have its distemper vaccine as soon as possible. There is some debate about how often ferrets should be vaccinated. Most ferrets receive an initial vaccination by the breeder at 6-8 weeks old. We recommend 2 additional vaccinations at 3 week intervals (9-11 weeks and again at 12-14 weeks old). After finishing their Kit sieries of distemper vaccinations, all ferrets should recieve a booster vaccination 1 year later. The vacciantion is labled to be given annually after that. Some research has shown that some ferrets may not need vaccinations every year after their first year booster. We will explore your ferret's risk factors and tailor a program just for it.
Rabies is a fatal virus infection that is easily spread by saliva. It is a public health hazard since it can be transmitted to people by saliva. Fortunately it is extremely rare in ferrets and is readily prevented by vaccinations. Rabies vaccinations are not required by law for ferrets in Arizona.
We recommend ferret do not receive distemper and rabies vaccinations at the same time due to increased risk of reactions when administered together. We recommend splitting up the vaccinations about 2-3 weeks or more apart. This also allows the ferret's body to better process each vaccine and develop the highest possible antibody levels from each vaccine.
Some ferrets have allergic reactions to their vaccinations. We recommend premedicating ferrets with an antihistamine before each vaccination and to closely monitor the ferret for 30 minutes following a vaccination. We encourage you to spend at least 30 minutes at Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital after your ferret's vaccination so we may treat your ferret should an allergic reaction develop despite the pretreatment with an antihistamine. If your ferret has a severe reaction, we'll discuss what options are appropriate for it in the future.