Title: Ferrets and the Flu Season
Date: November 8, 2001
By: Mary R. Shefferman
I just got my flu shot yesterday, and while I'm sitting here thinking about how sore my arm is, I'm reminded that we're coming upon flu season. Flu season starts around December and continues through March. As much as it is important for us humans to be aware of the flu, it's also important for our ferrets. That's right -- your ferrets can get your flu.
It can be difficult to impossible to tell the difference between a cold and the flu -- but your ferrets' bodies know the difference. Ferrets cannot get your cold, but they can get your flu. Since it can be very difficult to know whether you've got the flu or just a bad cold, it's best to try to avoid your ferrets as much as possible whenever you're sick. If you do have to do routine tasks when you're sick, wash your hands before and after handling the ferrets' items. Avoid sneezing, coughing, or breathing on your ferrets or their things as much as possible. It's best if you can get someone else to take care of ferret chores while you are sick. Hard as it is to resist a ferret who wants to play, it's best to leave them to their own games when you're sick.
If your ferret does catch your flu, you'll need to provide supportive care. The flu is caused by a virus, so antibiotics won't help. Do NOT give your ferret over-the-counter cold or flu remedies -- many contain ingredients that can harm your ferret (for example, acetaminophen -- the active ingredient in Tylenol -- can rapidly cause liver failure and death). Instead, provide warmth and plenty of fluids. Offer Pedialyte or other electrolyte replacement product and an easily digested food (chicken or turkey baby food), especially if the ferret is eating less than usual. Keep an eye on any sick ferret. If he or she stops eating or has labored breathing, see your veterinarian. The flu can lead to pneumonia (in both humans and ferrets). If you think your ferret is coming down with pneumonia, he or she needs to see the vet right away. People and ferrets who are otherwise in good health should be able to fight off the flu virus with rest and supportive care. Lots of TLC, rest, warmth, and fluids should help get you and your little friend through the flu. But don't hesitate to take your ferret to the vet if he or she isn't doing well.
Is It a Cold or The Flu?
You may not be able to tell for certain which you have based on symptoms alone. However, for the most part, fever occurs commonly with the flu, but rarely with a cold. Also, the flu usually has a quicker onset than a cold. If you're sick and you think you have the flu, see your doctor. Your doctor can perform a quick test that will tell for certain if you have the flu. If you don't feel sick enough to see your doctor, but you think it might be the flu, it is best to simply avoid your ferrets to be on the safe side.
You can learn more about the flu at www.Intelihealth.com, which I've found to be a pretty reliable source for consumer medical information. Or talk to your doctor.
DISCLAIMER | CONTACT | LINKS | TOPICAL INDEX
©2002 - 2009 MODERN FERRET MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Get Your Ferret Supplies Online at Ferret.com