Message Number: YG4053 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-05-28 00:36:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Ferret with a cold.

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "Renee" <peekapookie@y...> wrote:
> Hi
> I was wondering what I could do with a ferret that has a severe
> I have given her .5cc of children's benedryl as a friend once told
> to do, but I'm very worried about her. She's coughing and sneezing
> and seems to be having a difficult time breathing. Right now she is
> sleeping because I think the medicine has made her drowsy, but then
> again, she likes to sleep a lot anyway. I know that she has a cold
> because I am starting to get it too. Is a cold like this a serious
> problem or can it be medicated without going to the vet?

Dear Reneee:

Ferrets do not get colds. Colds are due to rhinoviruses, which are
species specific virus. Ferrets may get influenza, but not colds.

Ferrets with upper respiratory infections should see a vet prior to
starting on any medication. Benedryl, as you say, is an
antihistamine, and generally has little effect on symptoms of upper
respiratory infection - it is really an anti-allergy medication.
Recently on this list, we all witnessed the death of a ferret from
using an over-the-counter cold medication, based on the errant
information that ferrets get colds. Tonight I have seen another post
about a ferret with a cold, incorrect information that continues to
be passed unwittingly, even on this list.

Flus, or mild upper respiratory infections are not life-threatening
in ferrets. As owners, we tend to want to treat these conditions,
because we feel sorry for the animals, but over-the-counter meds are
not formulated for ferrets, and they contain ingredients that are of
no benefit to ferrets, and may even be hazardous. For this reason,
and the recent reinforcement of the tragic death of a ferret
following use of a human cold product, that I know longer recommend
these products for use in a ferret.

As long as your ferret continues to eat and drink sufficiently, no
medication is generally the best approach, and if the signs appear
significant, then a vet visit is generally in order.

With kindest regards,

Bruce Williams, dVM