Date: 2001-06-26 18:59:00 UTC
Subject: [Ferret-Health-list]RE: Heartworms
I will try to answer your questions about heartworms
in ferrets. Yes, ferrets can get heartworms just like
dogs and cats (and even seals) can. They all get heartworms
from mosquito bites. As for prevention, there are several
products that can be given to prevent heartworms.
Heartgard for cats 0-5 lbs. (ivermectin), Interceptor for dogs
0-10 lbs. (milbemycin oxime), Revolution for cats 5-15 lbs, and
diluted ivomec can all be used on a monthly basis. All 4 meds
should work just fine.
The test that is recommended to detect heartworms is the Idexx
ELISA snap test. Ultrasound can also be used to actually see
the worms in the heart.
As for treatment options, ferrets can be treated with Immiticide
(using the 3 dose schedule) with pediapred. Pediapred helps
prevent blood clots and to reduce the damage to the lungs.
The other option is to start them on diluted ivomec (50 mcg/kg
per month) with pediapred. The ivomec will cause a slow kill
of the heartworms over many months, and the pediapred helps with
blood clots and lung damage. Heart failure can be treated with
lasix and diltiazem. Treatment is not as successful in ferrets,
so prevention is the best way to go.
Hope that helps,
Jerry Murray, DVM
PS Yes, you can just start them on prevention without a test,
or you can use the Idexx ELISA snap test first.