Ferret caretakers should perform the following assessments of their companion ferrets each month to ensure good health and preventative care:

1. Keep track of your ferrets weight. Major weight changes could signal a health problem. (seasonal weight changes Spring/Fall are normal) Check to see if your veterinarian could allow use of scales for health checks.

2. Check that coat. Your ferrets coat should be shiny and glossy, except during coat change seasons. If you notice a hair loss which does not regrow within a normal time frame you should consider checking with your vet. Also check to make sure your ferret is free of fleas. You may find flea dirt ( black specks) within the fur. There are several safe products for flea treatment: shampoos for kittens with pyrithines and a small dose treatment of Advantage ( vet supervised) should keep your home and ferret free of fleas.

3. Check the skin condition. Is it dry, flaky, discolored? These changes should be reported to your vet.

4. Check your ferrets eyes. Are they clear and bright? Is there any discharge with color? Watery eyes may indicate an allergy or irritation, perhaps even a cold and if this persists should be checked by your veterinarian.

5. Ears, clean them of debris and check dark debris for ear mites. Although ferrets seem to have problem ears from time to time an abundance of debris is not normal. Ears should be pink and free of odor. If the ears are odifirous have you vet check for ear mites. Ear mites untreated can cause minor infections and other problems.

6. Check the color of your ferrets gums, they should be pink. Pale gums indicate a problem. Gently push against the gums, the pink color should return to them quickly after letting off. Check teeth for tartar build up and unusual odor.

7. Check your ferrets breath, bad breath can indicate more than tooth and gum problems.

8. Check the entire torso for any lumps or bumps.

9. Check the feet and pads for dryness or cracking. Older ferrets may have dry foot pads, applying a small application of vaseline to the pad will protect it from cracking and drying, especially in dry winter heat.

10. Check your ferrets genitalia to make sure there is no swelling or signs of irritation. If either are observed you should check with your veterinarian.

11. Does your ferret cough or gasp? Rule out the probability of hair ingestion during shedding season, if either condition persists, see your vet.

Remember that finding a health problem early can make all the difference in a quick recovery. If you observe any health indicators that are out of the ordinary make sure you contact your vet.