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Why Do Ferrets Lose Their Hair

Ferrets are faced with many health challenges, but the most common among them is hair loss. If you have had ferrets or currently have one and have not experienced hair loss, you should probably count yourself lucky.

The hair loss may start gradually in a part of the body and later move to other parts of the body. Hair loss can sometimes be a minor situation that could respond to some basic treatment. Other times it could be complicated and might require surgery. So, why do ferrets lose hair?

Hair loss is caused by many factors, but the most common one is caused by adrenal disease. Adrenal disease is a serious medical condition that requires major surgical treatment. Other factors include allergic reactions, bacterial and parasitic infections, immune disorders, and an unbalanced diet.

Let us get to know more about what causes ferrets to lose their hair.


Why Ferrets Lose Their Hair

Hair loss, also known as alopecia, is a serious medical condition among ferrets. As mentioned, hair loss is most often caused by adrenal disease. Some cases could be minor, and others could be severe, requiring surgical treatment.

Adrenal disease is caused by the overproduction of hormones by the adrenal gland. Over 40% of ferrets have this problem, both male and female.

Ferrets between the age of 3-4 years experience hair loss. The initial symptom appears mainly at the back end, tail, rump, or chest.

The symptom can persist if not treated and could lead to complete alopecia.

Other symptoms from the female ferret may include an enlarged vulva, while male ferrets could have enlarged prostate glands causing difficulty in urinating. Your ferret may also experience behavioral changes due to the overproduction of the hormonal glands.

There has been lots of talk about why ferrets’ glands become enlarged. This could be due to their lifestyle when being domesticated.

Over the years, scientists have come out with three theories that could cause hair loss in ferrets. The first is a result of exposure to sunlight when domesticated.

In the wild, ferrets spend about 75% of their time in their burrow. However, when they are domesticated, they experience the regular presence of light. This may play a role in their gland enlargement.

Other theories include genetics and neutering. Ferrets may be predisposed to glandular issues. Or, the process of getting your ferret spayed or neutered may trigger and break down in the adrenal gland. However, scientists aren’t really sure what makes ferrets more susceptible to adrenal gland issues.

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Other Causes of Hair Loss in Ferrets

They are several other causes of hair loss among ferrets. However, one can classify the condition as either primary (happened on its own) or secondary (occur due to some illness).

When it happens all over the body, it is a common sign of genetic or metabolic conditions. However, it is a parasitic or bacterial infection when it happens in patches.

Below are the major causes of alopecia (naturally occurring or some other illnesses):

  • Allergic reactions
  • Bacterial and parasitic infections
  • Immune disorders
  • Unbalanced diet
  • Adrenal diseases

Symptoms of Hair Loss in Ferrets

The primary symptom of alopecia is hair loss. Ferrets are hairy, and almost every part of their body consists of hair.

When adrenal hits your ferret at first, she may lose all hairs at once, or the condition may startup slowly and become worse over time.

Alopecia may affect the entire body or be limited to some parts of the body, such as the tail. In most cases, it occurs in patches in some parts of the body, such as the tail.

However, the degree of hair loss may determine the severity of the problem and the cause, which can help you determine if it naturally happened or happened due to other illnesses.

Symptoms Of Hair Loss In Ferrets

Ferret Hair Loss Diagnosis

New ferret owners may have lots of questions regarding ferrets losing hair.

If your ferret begins to lose hair, regardless if it occurs in patches or on the whole body, the first step in action is to take her to the vet. Your vet will first find the hair loss’s underlying cause by merely looking at it and further conduct a series of tests to be certain.

The test may include blood and chemistry analysis for anemia, immune disorder, infection, hormone, or steroid imbalance. 

To make sure the cause is not from an unbalanced diet, your vet may ask you about your ferret’s diet. If everything looks fine from the test result, your vet may be forced to test for an adrenal disease, which is the most common cause of hair loss.

The test will be carried out by performing an ultrasound test to detect any tumor presence, causing excessive hormone production. If any is found, that is the root cause of the hair loss, and treatment will begin immediately.

Ferret Hair Loss Diagnosis

Treating Hair Loss in Ferrets

Since causes can vary, you would need to wait for your diagnosis to see which treatment is recommended by your veterinarian. 

If the hair loss is due to an unbalanced diet, your vet will make a diet plan for you, which needs to be strictly followed. If it is caused by infection, drugs might be prescribed to stop the hair loss.

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A topical cream can be used when it is a result of parasites.

If adrenal disease is detected, your doctor may need to surgically remove the tumors. Or, your doctor might choose an alternative means by injecting the ferret with Lupron Depot. The Lupron Depot will help shrink the tumor to help alleviate the symptoms.

If the issue persists, please visit your doctor for further analysis.


Can you prevent ferret hair loss?

There is no specific method to prevent hair loss from occurring in domesticated ferrets. However, you can keep your ferret healthy with a balanced diet. 

Try as much as possible to replicate their lifestyle in the wild while being domesticated. Ferrets spend most of their time staying in the burrow, giving it a dark environment.

You need to keep to that by making sure she is not always exposed to light.

Also, make sure you feed your ferret with sufficient protein and keep the space where they sleep or play clean. All this will help lessen the possibility of experiencing hair loss from your ferret.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can ferrets’ hair grow back?

After a surgical operation or other medical treatment, it might take a while for the hair to grow back. However, if the ferret is in its rapid hair growth stage, that is, during the winter or late spring, it would only take a few days for the hair to grow.

Can a ferret lose all of their hair?

A ferret can lose all her hair, depending on the condition of the illness. Also, if the condition is not properly managed, the ferret could lose their hair completely until treated.

Is it normal for ferrets to lose hair?

It is normal for ferrets to lose hair. It is a hormonal problem that occurs among 40% of ferrets between 3-4 years of age.

Can ferrets die of hair loss?

Hair loss can be caused by several factors. As much as minor causes such as an unbalanced diet might not be life-threatening, adrenal disease is. Adrenal disease is chronic and can lead to death if not treated.


Conclusion

Hair loss is a critical issue among ferrets. So, closely monitoring your ferret will allow you to detect the symptoms early.

Although there are no preventive measures, maintaining quality hygiene and properly balancing your ferret’s diet will go a long way in keeping your ferret from losing hair. 

Also, try to replicate how they would live in the wild. Give them adequate sleep and make sure they are not always exposed to light.

Visit your vet for regular checkups regarding your ferret’s health and make sure you avoid stressing them if they undergo an operation.

Most importantly, do not contradict the information present in this article to your vet’s professional advice to you.