Flea Treatments for Ferrets

Ferrets (also called polecats in Europe) are a host for the common cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis. These fleas are also found on dogs, birds, rabbits, rodents and some farm animals. Although they do not like the blood of humans, people can get bitten by the fleas and transport them from a flea-infested animal to a ferret.

Immediate Treatment

Once fleas or flea droppings have been discovered on a ferret, treatments can eliminate the current adult population. If fleas have been discovered on other house pets, it can be assumed that the ferret has been infested, too. Several commercial flea-killing products for ferrets are on the market, including shampoos and dips. The active ingredients are pyrethrins. According to Dr. Judith A. Bell, DVM, if products specifically for ferrets are not available, call your vet to see if products intended for cats or rodents may be substituted. The ferret may have to be held by the scruff of the neck to tolerate the bath or dipping or to keep it from plunging all the way under water. Dips and shampoos are administered once a week until the infestation is over.

Long-Term Treatment

According to Susan Brown, DVM, no topical monthly treatments are made specifically for ferrets. A ferret would have to receive one made for cats, given at half the recommended dosage. The medicine is placed on the skin between the ferret's shoulder blades. Common ingredients for topical treatments include fipronil and imidacloprid. Brown recommends calling your vet to determine which one is acceptable. If the ferret has a chronic health problem, then its body may not be able to tolerate these topical treatments. A once-monthly pill called Program (lufenuron) given at half the dosage for a cat is another treatment option.

Other Tips

Because flea eggs drop off the ferret's body, they can stay in the furniture, bedding or soil. Although adult fleas can be killed with shampoos and dips, the eggs cannot. Topical monthly treatments can often cause flea eggs to not hatch, but the adult female flea needs to feed off the blood of a ferret that has already been treated for this to happen. The ferret's bedding and soft toys need to be thrown out or washed in hot water, and everything in the home (including furniture) should be vacuumed thoroughly to pick up flea eggs.

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About the Author

Rena Sherwood is a writer and Peter Gabriel fan who has lived in America and England. She has studied animals most of her life through direct observation and maintaining a personal library about pets. She has earned an associate degree in liberal arts from Delaware County Community College and a bachelor's degree in English from Millersville University.