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Ask the Vet: Protect Pet Ferrets From COVID-19

Dr. Lee Pickett on

Q: I have two ferrets, but the only information I can find about pets and COVID-19 involves dogs and cats. I know ferrets can get human influenza. Can they also catch the coronavirus that causes COVID-19?

A: Yes, people with COVID-19 can transmit the coronavirus to their ferrets. Most infected ferrets show mild clinical signs, including decreased energy and appetite, cough and fever. There have been no reports of any ferrets dying of COVID-19.

An infected ferret can transmit the virus to another ferret through direct contact or via respiratory droplets in the air. Viral levels are highest in nasal secretions, though the virus is also found in saliva, urine and feces. Research shows that ferrets also produce antibodies to the virus.

If you get sick, you can decrease the risk to your ferrets by staying away from them, just as you would stay away from people.

There have been no reports of virus transmission in the opposite direction -- from ferrets to humans. Still, if you develop COVID-19 and your ferrets are with you, it's prudent to keep them away from unexposed people.

If you're too sick to care for your ferrets, the person who does should wear gloves when handling them, touching their food and water containers, and cleaning their litter boxes. Immediately afterward, caregivers should wash their hands.


Please wear a mask, and remain physically distant from other people to protect not only yourself but your family -- including your playful, four-legged family members.

Q: My rat terrier Joy has overly long nails. Trimming them is difficult because the long nail beds limit how short the nails can be clipped without causing pain. What do you suggest?

A: The kindest, safest, most effective way to shorten long nails is to groom them weekly until you achieve the desired length.

First, clip Joy's nails with a doggie nail trimmer. Then grind them down to the nail bed, or quick, using a rotary sanding tool such as the Dremel PawControl.


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