All ferret owners and caretakers should take the time to really get to know their ferret(s), from head to tail. By examining your ferret weekly, you will be able to recognize any abnormalities that may signal a health problem might exist.
1. Skin and Coat
Your ferret’s coat should glossy with no bare spots. The only time a dull or patchy coat could be considered “normal” is during shedding season. Otherwise, it should be soft and full.
Likewise, you should check your ferret’s skin. Does it have dry, flaky patches or discolorations? Is there any sign of flea issues often signified by “flea dirt,” small black specks, or the actual presence of a flea? Also be sure to check the pads of your ferret’s feet for any dryness or cracking.
2. Weight, Size, and Overall Body
Check your ferret's entire body for any strange or new lumps and bumps. It's also a good idea to monitor his or her weight. Although seasonal changes in weight are normal, other significant weight changes could indicate several serious medical conditions.
Your ferret’s eyes should be bright, alert and glossy, with no discharge. If anything looks abnormal, see your vet. Your ferret could have allergies or a cold.
While some wax buildup in your ferret’s ears is normal, it should be golden to red in color and the ears themselves should be pink. If the wax looks black, or if the ear is red and irritated, check with your vet.
Check your ferret's mouth. His breath should not smell, if it does it could indicate dental disease. The gums should be pink, and when they are pressed on and released, the pink color should return rapidly. If the gums are pale, and if the refill time is slow, call your vet.
Obviously, nothing can replace a knowledgeable veterinarian who sees your ferret on a regular basis. However, by knowing your ferret, you can help your vet with an early diagnosis and a better recovery should something be wrong.