Just ONE heartworm could kill a ferret as their hearts are so small. Heartworm can be treated but the disease is very serious and the treatment is risky and expensive.
Some of the symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath
- Gums which look pale and grayish
- Rapid pulse
- Fluid build up in the stomach
- Green urine
Prevention is much better than a cure so if you know you live in an area where there are lots of mosquitos and heartworm is prevalent, speak to your vet about the best medication to keep your ferret safe.
Before starting on any heartworm prevention medication, your vet will probably want to do a blood test on your ferret to make sure it’s not already infected.
Back in the mid-90s, my vet told me to get a the teal packet of Revolution for large dogs (20.1-40kg/40-90lbs) and use one pipette for my six ferrets. I had 3 boys and 3 girls at the time and was told to “decant” 10 drops each for the boys, and 8 drops each for the girls.
I squirted the required drops into a small dish then slurped the liquid up in a syringe before squirting it under each ferret’s collar. I didn’t want any of the other ferrets to lick the medication off the fur so made sure the collar covered the area I put the Revolution on.
Soon after my vet told me what to do, I read that Jerry Murray, a very well known ferret vet from the States, said that the blue packet of Revolution for cats (2.6-7.5kg/5-15lbs) was fine to use on ferrets. Using one pipette per ferret it worked out a lot more expensive than using the teal packet!
Be aware that Revolution doesn’t kill heartworms, it is only a prevention.
Another very well respected ferret vet, Greg Rich, recommends giving a ferret dilute Ivermectin liquid orally every month. This site gives the dose to give a ferret, which is 0.02 mg/kg PO monthly (Hoeffer 2000).
Speak to your vet and be guided by their advice.
You can read more on Heartworm in ferrets here …
Heartworm Infection in Ferrets – Leonie Kondert, DVM
Joerg Mayer, DVM, MS, DABVP, DACZM, University of Georgia (TVP – Today’s Veterinary Practice)
Heartworms In Your Ferret – How To Prevent And Treat Them by R S Hines, DVM PhD (you need to scroll down a bit to read the page)
Heartworm in Ferrets – Dirofilaria immitis Parasite (PetMD)
Heartworm Disease in Ferrets by Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital)
Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention of Heartworm Disease in Ferrets by Bianca Zaffarano, DVM (TVP)
Heartworm Affects Ferrets Too! (Pet Care Veterinary Hospital)
Heartworm Season is Back by Mary van Dahm (WeaselWords)
The site below isn’t ferret specific but well worth reading to learn more about these parasites …
Heartworm Basics (American Heartworm Society)
(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.