Canine Distemper in Ferrets


Canine distemper in ferrets is a very serious threat so it’s essential to vaccinate your pet against this disease, as ferrets are very susceptible to it.

In America, the vets used to use a vaccination called Fervac-D and it was recommended that kits should be inoculated at 6-8, 10-12 and 14-16 weeks old respectively. After that ferrets should have a booster once a year. However Fervac-D has been permanently discontinued by the manufacturer.

However there is now another vaccine called PureVax, by Merial, and this vaccine should be given to your pet at 8, 11 and 14 weeks of age and yearly thereafter.[wp_ad_camp_2]

Here in Perth vets give kits two injections, one month apart, and then the annual booster. The WAFFS vet uses Protech Duramune C3 and so far, not one ferret has had an adverse reaction.

Some symptoms of canine distemper are:

Dry cough which turns into a moist cough
Extreme thirst
Rash under chin
Lack of appetite
Runny eyes and nose
Eyes and nose caked with brownish scabs and crusts
A twisted neck
A cross-eyed gaze
Muscular twitching
Swollen feet leading to hard pads


ferret with distemper Copyright © Shinkichi TSURUNO (EPC)
VEIN : Veterinary Exotic Information Network


These signs will show up around 7-10 days after exposure to the virus.

In the late stages of this disease, the ferret will vomit, convulse and fall into a coma.


It’s highly contagious and is considered to be 100% fatal.  Not only will your ferret die, but it might infect the other animals in your family!

Only very mild cases can be cured.

Therefore make sure you take your ferret for its distemper shot every year.


ferret with distemper Copyright © Shinkichi TSURUNO (EPC)
VEIN : Veterinary Exotic Information Network


However, please also be aware that some ferrets can have an allergic reaction to the distemper vaccine. It has been suggested that ferrets should be monitored for about 30 minutes after having their vaccination.


You can read more about Canine Distemper in Ferrets on these sites…

Ferret Distemper (College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University)

Ferret Distemper: What You Need to Know by Leonie Kondert DVM, Joerg Mayer DVM, MS, DABVP, DACZM (TVP)

Measles (Canine Distemper Virus) in Ferrets (PetMD)

Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) in Ferrets by Dr Byron de la Navarre (Animal House of Chicago)

All About Distemper In Your Ferret by Ron Hines DVM PhD

CDV – Canine Distemper in Ferrets (FACT)

Canine Distemper In Ferrets by Jerry Murray, DVM

Canine Distemper in Ferrets by Susan Brown, DVM

A Ferret Model of Canine Distemper Virus Virulence and Immunosuppression by Veronika von Messling, Christoph Springfeld, Patricia Devaux, and Roberto Cattaneo (scroll down to “FIG. 3. Photograph of an animal infected…” to see the rash which appears on a ferret with distemper)



And here you can read more about Canine Distemper Vaccines & Reactions on these sites…

Which Vaccinations Should My Ferret Receive? How Often? The Risks Of Over-vaccination by Ron Hines DVM PhD

What Options Do We Have If Merial’s PUREVAX® FERRET DISTEMPER Canary Pox Vectored Vaccine Remains Unavailable? by Ron Hines DVM PhD

Canine Distemper Vaccination (FACT)

PUREVAX® Ferret Distemper (Merial)

Feel free to download and save this pdf file about Distemper in a Ferret by Matti Kiupel, Richard J Montali (Ferret Health MSU) here.





(Last updated November 2019)




DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this page is not meant to replace seeing a veterinarian if you think your ferret is ill. It’s only meant to supply general information on a particular illness which was obtained either from personal experience with my sick ferrets, or from books and/or the Internet.

1 thought on “Canine Distemper in Ferrets”

  1. Hi all.
    I was told by my life long vet (for my kitties as well as ferrets) not to risk giving my ferrets distemper vaccination shots.
    He said in his experience this shot causes such a shock to the ferrets system, many have fatal reactions to them shortly after receiving them – the risk of a reaction to the vaccination far out weighs the risk of them coming down with distemper. So please choose wisely.

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