Like humans, there are many things that can trigger an allergic reaction in ferrets. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include sneezing, coughing and having a high temperature.
Sneezing, however, is also used by ferrets to spread their scent to establish territory. So it’s particularly important to know the particular signs of an allergic reaction and what to look out for.
The good news is that most allergic reactions are easily treatable. So, for your peace of mind, we rounded up the most common allergies in ferrets, how to avoid them and how to treat allergic reactions.
Ferrets can be allergic to a variety of things, but the most common is strong-smelling scents such as perfume or scented litter. Ferrets have a very sensitive sense of smell. Monitor your ferret’s behavior closely and avoid using scented products near your ferret.
What Are the Most Common Ferret Allergies?
Ferrets are lower maintenance than cats or dogs. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need the same attention and care.
As a ferret owner, your primary focus should be their diet and housing. That’s usually where you’ll find most of their allergy triggers.
Here’s a shortened list of things that ferrets are most commonly allergic to:
- Dust and debris
- Human hair and natural or synthetic animal fur
- Strong smelling scents
- Non-ferret-safe litter
- Certain foods
Now, let’s go into detail about each one and what makes ferrets allergic to them.
Dust and Debris
Ferrets are allergic to dust because they often sniff around their surroundings. They’re constantly wiggling their noses and moving their whiskers. This provides them with sensory feedback, which gives them a better understanding of their surroundings.
In simpler words, your ferret loves to be active and hang out in different areas. The places where they like to go should be dirt and dust-free. By regularly sweeping and dusting, they can freely explore their homes or yours without risking their health in the process.
Hair and Animal Fur
Your pet ferret can be allergic to natural and synthetic hair or fur. As we’ve said before, they rely on their noses and whiskers to get around. So, if there’s a chance that your hair or another pet’s fur gets into their respiratory system, they could start sneezing.
To prevent this from happening, keep them away from pets that shed a lot. Cats, dogs, and other furry animals should have separate bedding and playing areas placed far away from your ferret’s home.
In addition, remember not to brush your hair near your ferret. Finally, if you own wigs, store them somewhere they can’t get to easily.
Strong Smelling Scents
Here’s a common list that could trigger your ferret’s allergies:
- Scented soaps
- Perfumes and air fresheners
- Candles or diffusers that smell like bitter apples or otherwise
- Strong smelling detergents and fabric softeners
So, why are these smells bad for your ferret? Well, to get around, ferrets rely heavily on their noses. As a result, strongly scented products will easily irritate your pet ferret.
To avoid an allergic reaction, you should keep your ferret somewhere with no strong smells. As an added measure, use unscented fabric softeners and detergents to wash your clothes.
This way, you can pet your ferret and be close to them without putting their health at risk. It may take a bit of getting used to, but it’s worth it in order to keep your ferret allergy-free.
Here’s how you can prevent your ferret from suffering an allergy outbreak caused by strong scents:
- Wash your ferret with unscented shampoo
- Avoid spraying air fresheners to get rid of the ferret smell
- Don’t place incense, scented candles, or automatic fresheners in the same room as your ferret
Choosing a suitable litter for your ferret can be tricky if you don’t know what harms them. For starters, their litter should be as nondusty as possible.
We suggest sticking to wheat-based and biodegradable paper pellet litter, such as sWheat Scoop. In addition, regularly clean out your pet’s litter box. The accumulated dust might trigger an allergic reaction as well.
It’s also recommended you stay clear from wood-based litter. It typically contains scented softwood, such as cedar or pine. Plus, it can be lethal to your ferret in the long term.
Putting it simply, here are the main ingredients a ferret’s litter shouldn’t have:
- Corn or wood-based products
- Scented ingredients
Certain Ferret Feed
Ferrets are particular about their food. Once they get used to something, it’s hard to get them to like something else.
Not only that but there are certain foods that they shouldn’t consume. You should avoid these foods at all costs because they trigger an allergic reaction. Some of these items may also cause indigestion and vomiting.
Here are a few examples to steer clear of when choosing foods for your ferret:
- Corn or rice gluten
- Soy meal
- Artificial sugars, such as fructose and glucose
- Fish-based proteins
How to Tell If a Ferret Is Allergic to Something?
You’ll definitely know something’s wrong if your ferret gets an allergic reaction. They may be small, but they can get quite dramatic, especially when they’re sick.
Normally there’s no need to worry. So long as you address the problem as soon as possible, your ferret should be fine. If the allergic reaction persists or worsens, be sure to contact a qualified vet.
You should know that ferrets use sneezing to spread their scents as a way of establishing territories. It’s actually something they have in common with dogs.
In other words, not every sneeze is a reaction to an allergy. However, if it’s only a couple here or there, chances are, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
The golden rule is if the sneezing persists for several hours, then your ferret is probably coming down with something or is having an allergic reaction. Otherwise, check with a vet immediately.
The following are the main symptoms of an allergic reaction. Keep in mind that some of these symptoms are indicators of an extreme allergic reaction.
- Constant sneezing
- Gagging sounds or puking
- Excessive coughing
- Dried eye and nose discharge
- Cold fever of 99°F, or a hot one that’s over 105°F
Fever and discharge can point to something else other than allergies. Ferrets are prone to several health issues, including:
- Bacterial or fungal infections
- Dental problems
- Common cold viruses
- Canine distemper virus
What to Do If a Ferret Has an Allergic Reaction?
Once you’ve determined that your ferret has allergies, there’s actually a lot you can do to help alleviate the symptoms. Here’s a simple list of at-home precautions you can take to help reduce your ferret’s allergic reaction:
- Closely monitor your pet’s symptoms in case they worsen with time
- Regularly sanitize the area around your ferret
- Thoroughly clean and sweep around their bedding
- Avoid using scented cleaning products
- Make sure you pick ferret food that doesn’t contain any allergy-inducing ingredients
- Keep your ferret away from other furry pets
If you’d rather go to the vet first, they’ll likely start with one of the following:
- Prescribe an antihistamine medication for the treatment of allergies
- Offer ferret-safe sanitizing wipes to remove nasal or eye discharge
- Ask for an allergy test to determine what’s triggering the allergic reaction
From there, all you can do is wait for your ferret’s condition to improve. The good news is that allergies are easily treated and will likely go away quickly once you take the necessary precautions.
However, what we do recommend is checking with a vet first before anything. This way, if it’s a serious issue, you’ll be able to both know about and treat it as soon as possible.
Identifying tumors, fungal infections, or viruses soon enough helps your vet reverse the disease’s effects quicker. It’s always best to be aware of these medical conditions in their early stages rather than later when they might have already become a life-or-death situation.
What Is the Best Treatment for Ferrets with Allergies?
Ferret allergies are more common than you think. It’s why there’s no need to worry over your furry friend’s frequent sneezing or nausea.
The fact of the matter is that a ferret’s allergies are curable. As long as the symptoms don’t last longer than usual, these are the best measures you can take to ease them and provide your ferret with the proper treatment:
- Keep your ferret’s environment dust-free
- Maintain their litter box regularly
- Avoid spraying scented products anywhere near them
- Clean their fur with unscented soap
- Avoid ingredients that may trigger an allergy attack
- Separate them from shedding animals
- Remember to keep your hair up and out of their reach
- Apply a prescribed antihistamine if necessary
- Clean up discharge caused by their allergies with ferret-safe wipes
- Make sure your clothes are unscented and fur-free when playing with them
Ferrets are small, delicate creatures. Despite being low-maintenance, they require extra levels of attention, especially when they’re sick.
So, are ferrets allergic to anything? Yes, plenty! They use their noses a lot to detect their surroundings and be able to move around safely. As a result, they’re prone to sniff particles of dust, hair, and other allergy-inducing particles.
To keep them safe and healthy, make sure you take the simple precautions mentioned above. Remember, treating ferret allergies is simple and easy. Your furry friend will be back to their usual, goofy self in no time at all!