Choosing a Ferret Friendly Vet

Choosing a Ferret Friendly Vet

This is a very good article on how to choose your vet.The MFA couldn’t say it better! Go to our website for a list of ferret wise veterinary clinics as recommended by our membership. When using our list of recommend ed vets, always ask if there is a vet on staff that specializes in ferrets because vets do change clinics from time to time and it would be impossible for us to keep up with the changes!

Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.


Choosing a veterinarian that is right for you and your ferret is not always easy. You want to find a veterinarian with whom you and your pet can feel comfortable and can build a trusting relationship. And you want to find that veterinarian before you get a ferret – the veterinarian can advise you on what to look for in a healthy ferret. If you have moved or for some other reason need to change veterinarians, find a new veterinarian before your ferret becomes ill. 

Types of veterinary practices… 

Different types of veterinary practices exist. Those that provide care to companion animals include the following: 

Small animal practice: These veterinarians work mainly with dogs and cats. Many also care for ferrets, pocket pets, reptiles, and birds. 

Mixed animal practice: These veterinarians are commonly found in more rural areas as they work with pets as well as horses, cattle, and other farm animals.


Emergency clinics: These clinics are very helpful in the event an emergency occurs outside of your veterinarian’s regular office hours. They do not typically handle routine check-ups, vaccinations, or spays/neuters. Emergency clinics may also see patients who need 24-hour care or exams with specialized equipment to perform procedures such as ultrasonography or endoscopy that the veterinarians in the surrounding area do not have at their facilities. 

Exotics clinics: These veterinarians specialize in caring for pocket pets, reptiles, birds, ferrets, and species other than dogs and cats. 

Avian clinics: These veterinarians specialize in companion bird health. 

Cat only clinics: These veterinarians limit their practice to cats only. 

Mobile practices: Some veterinarians will travel to your house to treat your pet, just like some travel to farms to treat farm animals. 

The veterinarians that limit the species of patients to which they provide care, such as ‘cat-only,’ are able to devote more time to learning about that particular species. This allows for more in-depth knowledge of disease processes in that species. In many multi-doctor practices, the doctors have individual interests which they pursue. They are available to consult with other doctors in the clinic on those subjects. 

Where to find a veterinarian… 

Ask friends, family members, and co-workers that have pets: 

Where do they take their pets, and why?


Do they like the location? 

Is the staff friendly, and do they seem knowledgeable? 

Does the doctor fully explain the diagnosis, treatment plan, and expected outcome of a disease? 

Are they comfortable asking the doctor questions? 

Ferret clubs: Ferret clubs may be a good source of information when looking for a veterinarian. 

Local directories: The yellow pages or business pages of a phone book normally will provide information on local veterinarians’ names, addresses, and phone numbers. 

Things to look for when visiting a veterinary clinic… 

Office hours and emergencies: 

What are the regular office hours? 
What hours are the doctors available for appointments? 
How are emergencies handled during business hours? 
How are emergencies handled after hours and on holidays? 
How long does it take to get an appointment for a wellness exam versus a ‘sick pet’ appointment? 

Veterinarian and staff: 

How are questions over the phone handled? 
Are the staff knowledgeable and courteous? 
Are phone calls answered quickly? 
Are you put on ‘hold’ for long periods of time? 
Can you see a specific doctor if you are at a multi-doctor practice? 
Do you feel comfortable with the receptionist, technician, and doctor?


Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.


Fees and payment:


Do not make cost your determining factor when choosing a veterinarian. It is very difficult to compare costs for medical services because every veterinarian practices differently. Expect to pay a fair price for the services received. In a critical situation, cost is usually not your first concern, so choose quality care above all else. Your pet is more than a financial investment. Along with cost, find out:


What methods of payment are accepted?

When is payment due?

Are credit cards accepted?




What types of services are available?

Medical exams?

Surgery, including orthopedic?


Radiology (x-rays)?



Nutrition counseling?

Laboratory testing?

Are the veterinarians willing to refer pets to specialists? If so, whom?

Do they have auxiliary services such as boarding?




Is the practice clean and neat?

Are there unpleasant odors?

Are the grounds well kept?

Is the facility in a good location and easy for you to get to?


Professional affiliations:


Are the doctors members of professional associations including those related to “exotic” animals?

Is the hospital an American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) associated hospital?

Do the veterinarians regularly attend conferences and other continuing education programs?


As part of your search, pay a visit to the facilities you are interested in and have a tour. Make appointments to meet the veterinarians. If your ferret has ongoing medical or behavioral problems, find out if the veterinarian is comfortable in treating those problems.


Hopefully, your ferret will have a healthy life and never need a specialist, but if a specialist is needed, they are available. Some veterinarians will have a special interest in certain areas of medicine or surgery and specialize in it. If they are board-certified, it means that they have studied and have passed board-certification exams in that specialty.




The following is a partial list of specialties that have board-certification:


Internal medicine: Specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders that involve the internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, and pancreas.


Surgery – orthopedic and soft tissue: Specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders that need surgery to repair such as back surgery, complicated fractures, or abdominal surgery.


Dermatology: Specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of skin disorders including allergies.


Oncology: Specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers.


Radiology: Specializing in reading x-rays, CAT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds.


Cardiology: Specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of heart diseases.


Ophthalmology: Specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders.




The relationship between you, your pet, and your veterinarian will hopefully last many years, so take time to find the right ‘fit.’ Since you will need to be able to discuss your pet’s symptoms, test results, and treatment options with your veterinarian, good communication is of utmost importance. Find a clinic with veterinarians who you feel comfortable with and have good ‘bedside manners.’ Once you have found that veterinarian, we strongly recommend regular veterinary visits, or at the very least, annual physical exams.


Hidden Dangers

Written by Mahri,

Unfortunately, one of the most prevalent causes of premature ferret death is gastrointestinal blockage. You can protect your ferrets by keeping a close eye on what they like to chew on. Basically, ferrets like any type of foam rubber, soft rubber, couch stuffing, sponge and Styrofoam. Additionally, many ferrets also enjoy chewing on paper, plastic bags, cardboard and fabric. These will all cause gastrointestinal blockages if ingested.

Look for signs such as furniture stuffing on the floor, under beds or under other furniture. Make sure your ferrets are not digging holes under the couch and crawling inside. Keep all shoes with inserts out of the reach of your ferret. If your ferret is chewing his or her bedding, try a stronger fabric that won’t tear. Generally, keep an eye on your ferrets and be familiar with their favorite places to hide and which items in the house they are fixated on. This will help you come up with a ferret proofing plan that is right for your ferrets.

Ferrets actually enjoy the smell of bleach, bar soap and some other household cleaners. Be careful when you are cleaning the bathroom or kitchen. Always rinse bathtubs very well after cleaning them. Some ferrets (like mine) are able to climb into the tub by themselves. They enjoy licking the water droplets off the sides of the tub. A small amount of disinfecting cleaner or bleach could make your ferret ill.

Keep toilet lids down to keep your ferret from drinking out of the toilet (yes, I have a ferret that does this) . Again, toilet cleaners are toxic to ferrets. Ferrets could also drown in the toilet water. Store all cleaning supplies, medicine and bar soap in a ferret proof area.

Finally, to keep your ferret out of potentially unsafe rooms such as the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room you must construct a ferret barrier. Traditional pet and child proof gates will not work. Most ferrets can easily climb over these gates and can get strangled or stuck by trying to squeeze through the openings. Ferrets will try to get under the refrigerator (they can be seriously injured by the fan), under cabinets, in drawers, under the washer and dryer (they can get in the dryer if you leave the door open) and in any other small opening at ground level.

PLEASE CHECK THE DISHWASHER AND CLOTHES DRYER FOR YOUR FERRET(S) BEFORE STARTING IT. My veterinarian has told me horror stories about ferrets being killed in these appliances. Ferrets can also climb into high places such as the top shelf of a closet. Unfortunately, ferrets can get themselves into situations they can’t get out of and end up getting injured. Make sure you know where your ferret is at all times!

The best way to keep your ferret out of dangerous rooms is to make your own barrier or purchase a gate made especially for ferrets (these are constructed out of a solid sheet of plastic or Plexiglas). You can make your own barrier by measuring your doorway and purchasing a flat sheet of wood or Plexiglas that is at least three feet tall. Stiff cardboard may work as well. Just wedge the board in your doorway to keep the room blocked off.

Climbing over the barriers may seem like a pain, but it’s nothing compared to trying to find a ferret who has gotten trapped inside a wall, under the fridge or behind a cabinet! Keep your ferrets out of your furniture by nailing or tacking heavy material, card board, wood sheets or particle board on the bottom of the furniture. This keeps them from being able to dig through the soft fabric located under your furniture.

Keeping a close eye on your little buddies and setting limits for them will create a comfortable, safe home environment for you and your ferrets.