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Flea Treatment For Ferrets

ferret flea treatmentFlea Treatment For Ferrets

What Are Fleas?

Fleas are tiny, usually dark-colored, insects.  Fleas attach themselves to animal and human skin–including ferrets. They bite and feed on the animal’s blood.  

Each female flea may produce 50 or 60 eggs a day!  Flea eggs hatch in about 4 days. 

Larvae eat the droppings of mature fleas for about 2 weeks, then spin cocoons and become pupae. Inside the cocoons, the pupae turn into fleas that emerge in 3 or 4 weeks as a new generation.

While most ferrets are not overly sensitive to fleas, some may develop skin irritations, allergies and even anemia.  Fleas reproduce quite quickly, laying batches of eggs on the ferret or other animals. The fleas can then spread to the animal’s surroundings.

Causes of Fleas in Ferrets

When the weather gets warm and humid, the fleas come out. Ferrets that go outside can pick up fleas from the environment. Ferrets can also get fleas from other pets or even people.

Flea eggs can remain dormant for up to two years waiting for victims.  Not only lying in wait outside, but they can also hide in furniture, carpets, bedding, clothes…

Symptoms of Fleas in FerretsFlea Treatment For Ferrets

Common symptoms of fleas in ferrets include biting, scratching or licking the area or areas on the body where fleas are hiding. Often times, these actions are quite sudden. Think of how you react when getting bitten by a bug or stung by a bee! The ferret will do this in an attempt to remove the fleas from his body.

Another good indicator that fleas are present is “flea dirt” or droppings. Flea dirt is dried blood left behind on the ferret’s body by fleas. When exposed to many fleas, ferrets may develop skin lesions, scabs or hair loss.

One way to check for this flea droppings is to use a flea comb. Gently combing through your ferret’s fur will often uncover these deposits.

Anemia can also be a symptom of fleas in ferrets–especially when there are a lot of fleas.  Ferrets are so small that it is easy for them to develop anemia from fleas. Plus, a ferret may develop an infection if he frequently bites or scratches at an area and breaks the skin. 

Aside from skin infections, allergies and anemia, flea bites can cause ferrets to lose sleep, stop eating and become irritable.  Fleas can also transmit diseases, and if a flea is accidentally ingested, tapeworms can result.

Before diagnosing flea infestation, a veterinarian will first rule out other causes for anemia, biting, skin irritations or hair loss. If fleas are present, your veterinarian will typically spot fleas or flea dirt through an examination of your ferret.

Flea infestations can be challenging to solve, but patience and continuous treatments will eliminate these parasites.

Flea Treatment For Ferrets

Eradicating fleas in ferrets can be difficult. The sooner treatment is started, the fewer fleas there will be. It is recommended that you consult your veterinarian as to what type of treatment or treatments best suit your ferret’s needs. If your ferret is suffering from skin irritation or inflammation, a veterinarian may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication.

Usually, a necessary first step is bathing the ferret with a flea shampoo. These baths should be done once a week for up to several months, or until there is no sign of fleas on your ferret. Check the shampoo Flea Treatment For Ferretslabel. Make sure it is suitable for kittens. The active flea-killing ingredient should be pyrethrins. Don’t use anything containing organophosphates, carbamates or petroleum distillates. These ingredients may be harmful to ferrets. Use a flea comb to remove fleas from your ferret’s face, and be sure to keep the shampoo away from his eyes and nose.

Avoid most pet sprays and all dips and powders. Many are toxic and could harm your ferret. Flea powders can cause respiratory problems in ferrets. One product more easily used for ferrets is the flea wipe. These wipes are easy to use, kill existing fleas and repel future fleas for up to two weeks. Make sure the wipes do not contain cedar oil, as this ingredient is toxic to ferrets.

Keep in mind that if you have other pets, they need to be treated as well.

When your ferret has had fleas for a while, more fleas will be in your home than on your ferret. Any treatment has to kill not only the fleas on all your pets that spend any time in the house but also everywhere the pets can go. The most intense effort should be focused on the areas where your ferret (and any other pets) sleep. Eggs will hatch into larvae in these areas.

Typically, flea-control products are necessary to help control and eliminate the flea population from your home.

Chemicals flea treatment for ferrets

Before using any chemicals to treat fleas on your ferret, make sure they are safe for ferrets.

If a product doesn’t say it is safe for ferrets, check with your veterinarian. 

Pyrethrins:  These chemicals are considered relatively safe, even for kits. They act as a flea repellent and kill adult fleas. Products containing pyrethrins and similar ingredients, such as resmethrin are available in many forms, including pet sprays such as Petcor.

Imidacloprid:  This ingredient blocks nerve transmissions in adult fleas, immediately killing them. It kills larvae as well as adults. It is sold as Advantage and is a topical liquid that can be applied to the ferret’s skin once a month. It then spreads to the rest of the ferret’s skin. It’s resistant to water and bathing. 

Lufenuron: This chemical is an insect developmental inhibitor.  When the flea ingests the ferret’s blood, it lays sterile eggs. It is sold as Program in the form of monthly oral tablets.

Precor and Nylar: These chemicals are insect growth inhibitors that prevent flea eggs from hatching and larvae from pupating and turning into fleas. They can be found in flea products formulated for use on carpets and pet bedding, such as Precore. Some products are available that can be used directly on pets and contain both a growth inhibitor and an insecticide.

Organic or Naturalflea treatment for ferrets

Limonene and Linalool: These organic ingredients are derived from citrus peels, and therefore thought to be “natural”. Products containing d-limonene kill larval and adult fleas, while those containing both ingredients kill eggs as well. There are flea shampoos containing these ingredients, but stay away. They are too strong for ferrets. Limonene is a volatile organic compound, which can cause irritation, strong, long-lasting odors and other health and comfort concerns.

People have come up with all sorts of concoctions attempting to get rid of fleas. From apple cider vinegar and lemons to lavender and cedar oils. The problem is they just don’t work. Many natural flea repellents contain ingredients that are actually harmful or toxic to ferrets, such as cedar oil.

Cleaningflea treatment for ferrets

Chemicals alone will not effectively treat fleas in ferrets. Other methods must also be used to get rid of the flea eggs. The most effective way is through thoroughly cleaning your home.

Thorough cleaning is necessary–especially everywhere your ferret has access to. Cleaning your ferret’s bedding, cage, toys, etc. is especially important.

It is important to remove all fabric bedding from the ferret’s cage and/or other areas and wash it in hot water. Do the same for stuffed or fabric toys. The litter box should be emptied and cleaned as usual. Cage cleaning and then treating with Precor dramatically reduces the number of eggs and larvae that will develop into adults.

Since it is very difficult to treat every part of the house that your ferret can access, it is necessary to vacuum furniture and floors thoroughly and frequently.  The vacuum cleaner bag should be changed regularly and sealed in a plastic bag before disposal to prevent re-infestation.  

Flea Treatment For Ferrets

Getting rid of fleas on your ferret and in your home can be a challenge. The sooner treatment is started, the fewer fleas there will be. Thorough cleaning is important, but typically flea-control products are necessary to help eliminate the flea problem from your ferret, other pets, and your home.

Before you start any flea treatment for your ferret, it is recommended that you consult your veterinarian to be sure you treat the problem safely and effectively.

Your comments are welcome.

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21 thoughts on “Flea Treatment For Ferrets

  1. The page is very well constructed and flows easily when reading it. The graphics look amazing, Very informative, I do not own a ferret but do a rabbit and live in an Apartment and have had infestations in the past, even before I had a pet here. Your instructions about cleaning are totally correct. I have vacuumed every inch of this Apartment and piece of furniture many many times over the two years I have lived here just to make sure I do not get infected just from the other animals that live in the building.

    1. I’m glad you liked the post on Flea Treatment for Ferrets. Yes, the info does certainly apply to other pets as well. Pets can easily get fleas from other animals they come in contact with. Keep up the vacuuming!

    2. Yah, we live in an apt as well Robert, and when we have newcomers ,
      moving in sometimes they bring a little extra luggage with them ! The
      trouble with hall carpeting is, if anyone else has pets you can be certain
      that some of that luggage is left in the hallways of our building, just waiting for us to walk through, and pick it up on our pant legs, for a free
      ride right into our apartment.

      Nice talking with you Rob.
      Cheers !!

  2. I wasn’t aware that ferrets could get fleas, but like our other furry friends it does make sense. So thank you for sharing this useful article to help our ferrets.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Owain. My goals is to provide useful info for ferret parents and potential ferret parents about everything ferret!

  3. Ferrets are such goofy little critters. But they’re cute. It’s pretty cool to see that someone is out there offering tips for care of ferrets and has a passion for the little guys.

    I don’t think there are too many websites out there dedicated to ferrets, so this can be a good source of info for ferret owners.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Jeff.
      There is a lot of confusion and misinformation about ferrets and how to give them the best care. I hope Ferret Lovers–All Things Ferret will be a source of info and tips for anyone interested in ferrets.

  4. I never think a ferret could be infested with fleas. I always thought that only dogs and cats are targeted by fleas.

    I should’ve known better. After all, fleas are fleas. They need blood from wherever they can get.

    Thank you for mentioning some chemicals that are dangerous to ferret. I always thought that any flea shampoo is good enough for killing fleas. Man… I should read more! I don’t know anything.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Arief. Yes, it’s best to research flea treatments to make sure the treatment will not do more harm than good for your pet–whether a ferret or any other pet.

  5. Hi Sandra,

    We don’t have ferrets in my country, but what you have is information on getting rid of fleas and that its able to be utilized on our other furry animals, love the straight and to the point with clarity on all that you layout, I will continue to visit for more, thank you.

    Much success


    1. Hi Leon,
      I’m glad you found the info on flea treatment for ferrets (and other pets) helpful. Many of the articles I post are applicable to other pets as well. If you have pets, you may want to check out Care Credit For Pets, Air Cleaners For The Home With Pets and Veterinary Pet Insurance.

  6. The safest treatment I have found for any kind of bugs,
    and fleas, around the home, and other pets, is a natural
    called: Diatomaceous Earth !
    It is also safe for human consumption ! Farmers has a
    grade also that they use to protect the feed from rodents
    We buy the food grade…it IS safe !!
    It being a powder just try and keep it down a bit, That is the
    only concern !!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on flea treatment for ferrets. Unfortunately, powders are not safe for use around ferrets. Also, this product has no effect on flea eggs–which need to be eliminated.

  7. I never really thought of fleas and ferrets. I typically, only think of cats and dogs when thinking about fleas. But, I guess since ferrets are mammals to this could be a real problem.

    Did have a question about treatment, though. How long does it usually take before ferrets no longer have fleas once they are treated?

    1. Hi Garen,
      There is no set answer for how long it takes before a ferret no longer has fleas, once treated. Some treatments, like Precor kill fleas on contact, some like Advantage start working in about 12 hours. But you must treat the ferret and the environment, as described in the article. I had a flea problem and after treating all the pets and everything else, it took a few weeks to no longer find any fleas. I also used Program monthly after that to prevent a reinvestation.

  8. We had one of our ferrets die from his flea infestation last year. The cats and dogs brought them in and the fleas are becoming immune to the topicals and collars now so the infestation happened within a week. We bathed the ferrets with shampoo from the vet and applied the Advantage for kittens that he gave us, but the fleas were back quickly and our boy that died, Blinky, was white and totally infested again within the week. He died a day later, totally anemic and emaciated.

    The moral of the story is to take fleas VERY seriously with little guys and act quickly!

    1. Edith I am so sorry about Blinky. That is such a terrible thing to happen to a little ferret. Fleas can be deadly to ferrets as you have unfortunately experienced. Yes fleas have to be seen as life threatening. Ferrets, as well as all pets, have to be treated appropriately and their environment needs to be treated to be sure the current and future infestations are eliminated. Thank you for sharing your story.

  9. Wow, I never knew the fleas could be life threatening. So sorry about Blinky. We have just discovered our little Neo has fleas, bless him. I am going to bath him and flea comb him and get started on the treatments. My pesky dogs have bought the fleas in running through the fields. I do boil wash Neos teddies and blanket every few days so hoping it’s not too bad. Thank you for your clear and concise advice. Much appreciated.

    1. I’m happy to help, Rachael.

      1. Do you know of any topical treatments I can use that are safe for their skin for dry skin treatments I ha researched alot of different options just figured maybe a fellow ferett owner has something that they would recommend that works best thank you

        1. Hi Alicia,
          If your ferrets have dry skin, there can be lots of reasons: too frequent baths, wrong diet…until you figure out the cause, you could try a good quality salmon oil
          Please let me know if you would like more help.

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