What’s wrong with ferret health?
By Stephanie Warzecha
There are a lot of things that we can personally do that help our ferrets stay happier and healthier throughout their lives such as improving their diets, enrichment, etc. However, I can’t help but bring up the niggling feeling, that we are also being royally screwed by things out of our control.
Things that I haven’t seen much progress on over the past 12 years of running Ferret-World.com, which quite frankly…annoys me.
One of the main reasons why ferrets are predisposed to cancers and other diseases are due to the poor genetic breeding practices of large commercial breeders (those that shall not be named, but all experienced ferret owners know of…especially ferret shelters who often get left with caring for ferrets whose owners are unable to pay the vet bills).
Unfortunately, these breeding practices by large commercial breeders don’t seem to be improving (I mean, why should they if they are hitting their profit margins, right?).
So the only other option that we have is trying to manage the diseases through our wonderful vets and what the pharmaceutical companies have deemed effective enough for our ferrets (while making sure they retain a high-profit margin).
Generally, a pharmaceutical company has no interest in curing a patient, because a cure would mean no recurring revenue and losses in profits.
A vicious cycle?
As ferret owners, we are taught to prepare for at least one large illness in a pet ferret’s life due to their predisposition to diseases. We are told to put money away for these veterinary and pharmaceutical expenses. This is sound advice that I stand behind, but…
I feel that as pet owners we get so emotionally invested in our fur babies that sometimes we don’t see when we might be getting an unfair deal.
Here’s the way I see it:
- We are doomed from the start to invest large amounts of money into our ferrets because of large commercial breeders who are doing a poor job at breeding (or dodgy backyard breeders).
- We fall in love with our ferrets and are emotionally attached to them and simply would do anything for them, therefore when it comes to paying the money to help our ferrets we do so readily (as we should because they are our responsibility) and the pharmaceutical companies benefit from this.
- Essentially we are getting into a financial trap because the commercial breeders aren’t doing better and the pharmaceutical companies…well, they just keep worrying about their large profit margins.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love vets! I love the medical technology and medicines that are available to us to be able to help our ferrets! If something is wrong with a ferret my first call is always to go see a vet. But there seems to be a monopoly on health (both human and animal) from the pharmaceutical companies, and I really don’t like this.
It’s time for change.
- BREEDING – The best way to empower ourselves from a breeding perspective, if we want to buy baby ferrets, is to only get them from credible, small breeders who are listed with ferret associations and have a good reputation for producing healthy ferrets and breeding out unhealthy traits from the genetic line. Stop buying from pet shops that supply ferrets from large commercial breeders or dodgy backyard breeders.
- MEDICAL – I’ve been following the journey of Dogs Naturally Magazine and really love how they are questioning the mainstream narrative that there is only one way to keep dogs healthy (via the pharmaceutical route). They are looking more towards nutrition, homeopathy, herbalism and so much more! It’s a really holistic way of looking at pet health and wellbeing which I’m all for. The problem is that I am just not seeing enough vets trying the holistic medicine route when it comes to ferrets. And maybe it’s because the market for ferrets is much smaller than the dog or cat market. But I’ve worked with dogs, horses, owned a cat and all of the health industries around these animals are much more diverse. There is a much more holistic approach and more options for owners to empower themselves with alternatives for their animals. I think we need to see more of this in the ferret industry as well.
- This is why I get so excited when we talk about alternative health options like using CBD oil for sick ferrets. There is no research around it but some ferret owners have conducted their own research and taken a risk and some have seen some amazing results for their terminally ill ferrets. I would love to see more research around holistic non-pharmaceutical treatment options.
I feel like we can do better for our ferrets and that if we stop spending money on dodgy breeders not only will we save ourselves heartache and money, but we send a clear message telling those breeders that we are not going to be sucked into a vicious cycle again. It’s not healthy for our emotional and financial wellbeing as owners and it most certainly isn’t healthy for our ferrets either.
When it comes to medicine, I would love to know if there are any ferret vets out there that have taken a more holistic approach? Have they experimented with CBD oil for example? What were the results? Are they using herbs, supplements, acupuncture or anything else that has helped ferrets apart from the common pharmaceutical route. If so, I want to know about this, I want to write articles about it and I want to empower our community with more alternatives. If you know of vets who are practicing more holistic approaches to ferret health then please let me know about them (simply reply to this email).
It is heartbreaking seeing ferrets suffer from diseases such as insulinoma, adrenal gland disease and lymphoma and I know we can do better to serve our ferrets in their wellness and health journey’s starting right from the beginning and all the way to the end of their journeys. We can do better and I’m putting out a call to action for all of us to make these changes happen for the health and happiness of our ferrets (and for our emotional and financial health too).