Osteodystrophy in Ferrets


Osteodystrophy is also known as brittle bones. This disease was more common in the past, when ferrets were fed muscle meat for their meals, a diet totally lacking in calcium.

Young ferrets (usually around 6-12 weeks old) with osteodystrophy move more like seals, with their legs, especially their front ones, pointing out to the side.

Because the bones in their legs and spines are deformed and soft, they never completely recover, and are doomed to being disabled and suffering lifelong pain because of their skeletal problems and awkward gait.

To make sure this never happens if you’re breeding, please make sure that your jill and her kits are fed a complete diet so that both mother and babies get all the necessary nutrients to keep them strong and healthy.


More information about Osteodystrophy in Ferrets can be found on this site …

Osteodystrophy (scroll down to osteodystrophy) (Chase Ferrets)



(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.

4 thoughts on “Osteodystrophy in Ferrets”

  1. I’m concerned with my female ferret. She’s about a year old, adopted from a shelter, and came with her brother. Her brother is fine, but she has low weight, and can’t spey herself with her back legs. After reading this, I fear as though it might be what you’re describing. Can I ask your thoughts.

  2. Hi Elizabeth
    I would suggest taking your little one to a (ferret) vet to see what he thinks.
    I’ve heard of owners adding calcium to their ferret’s diet to help build up the strength in their bones. The thing is that I have no idea how much calcium one should add to their diets and it’s not good for an animal to have excess calcium in its system, as it could cause other problems.
    If your vet thinks your girl has osteodystrophy, I’m sure he’ll be able to advise you how much calcium and any other supplements you should add to her diet, and for how long.
    I’m not sure if this is the same as rickets in young dogs but if it is, the Merck Vet Manual says …
    “The outlook for treating rickets is good if there are no broken bones or irreversible damage to the bone. The primary treatment is to correct the diet. Exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet radiation) will also increase the production of vitamin D.
    Recent studies show that many homemade diets for dogs are deficient in minerals and fail to achieve a proper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. Therefore a high-quality commercial food, or one designed by a credentialed veterinary nutritionist, is recommended.”


    As your girl is still young, I hope that a correct diet will help to make her bones stronger and let her live a full and happy life with you.
    Hugs to your two from their new friends down under 🙂

  3. We have a young ferret who was diagnosed with a calcium deficiency
    Vet prescribed calcium supplements, but they didn’t help. We started her on hemp oil for pets and saw incredible improvement in her walking and head bobbing. Do you have any thoughts on hemp oil for ferrets?

  4. Hi Linda
    I am so pleased to hear that hemp oil has helped your little girl! Truly wonderful ?
    I haven’t had any information about hemp oil but will research it and let you know. I also hope you’ll let me know how your little one is faring!
    Wishing you all the very best!

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