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Ferret Distemper

Distemper in ferrets is caused by the canine distemper virus (CDV), the same virus responsible for distemper in dogs. CDV is frequently lethal in dogs and virtually 100% lethal in ferrets.

At Plano Animal Clinic (PAC), we have had success in treating viral diseases of dogs and cats, especially canine distemper. As in dogs, conventional wisdom says that distemper in ferrets is incurable, yet 80% of our canine patients have recovered from distemper. Since our treatment methods are neither virus nor species specific, the question that begs asking is, “Why not try the same thing for ferrets?”

As 2008 draws to a close, it is our hope that the same methods we use at PAC for treating other viral diseases in dogs and cats will be effective in treating distemper in ferrets. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain, as currently, nearly every ferret that acquires this disease dies.

We need your help . We ask the owners of pet ferrets living in the Dallas / Fort Worth area to call us if your pet is showing early signs of distemper. These symptoms may include:

  • High fever
  • Greenish discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Redness and swelling of the chin and lips
  • Hardening and thickening of the footpads
  • Depression

Changes in the chin, lips, and footpads are classic signs of distemper in ferrets. If the disease runs its full course, patients often develop seizures, convulsions, or “screaming fits” resulting in death.

Our goal in therapy is to intercept the virus before it can affect the brain. To accomplish this, we must stop the virus from replicating, prevent uninfected cells from becoming infected, and clear the residual virus from the body. We've done this many times in dogs. Whether it is possible in ferrets remains to be seen.

ADDENDUM: Treating sick ferrets may seem trivial to anyone other than a ferret owner. However, ferrets may have more relevance to the rest of us than is immediately apparent. It seems they are also the perfect animal model for studying human influenza, as they are susceptible to the same flu viruses that infect humans.

Animals, humans, and the environment are increasingly linked together in terms of health and disease. Successfully treating lethal distemper in ferrets could be a bridge to successfully treating lethal influenza in humans. With animal viruses such as avian influenza (bird flu) threatening to jump species into humans, treatment methods worked out in ferrets could become pertinent to all of us.

If we have success in treating distemper virus in ferrets, we will post the results and treatment methods on this website. If our attempts fail, we will post that as well. Right now, we are just hoping to help that first sick ferret get well and resume its role as family pet and friend.

NOTE: All patients must be examined by Dr. Ward before any treatment recommendations can be made. State law prohibits phone consultations without personal examination of the patient. Your understanding in this matter is appreciated. As with any medical therapy--conventional or alternative--there is no expressed or implied guarantee of success.

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Plano Animal Clinic

3205 Alma, Ste 415
Plano, TX 75075

Phone: (972) 422-5116

Paralyzed Dogs

The treatment methods that have been the most beneficial for our patients over the past few years include: Immune modulation, VOM spinal adjustments, Cold LASER therapy & LED acupuncture.

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