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Heartworm in Ferrets

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Treatment

 

The veterinarian will be focused on killing off the worms, followed by treatment to increase lung function -- generally done with an anti-parasite and prednisone medication combo. Worm-killing therapy carries the risk of complications from drug toxicity and worm emboli (a blocking of blood vessel). However, treatment with long-term anti-parasite medication and prednisone kills off the heartworms more slowly, making the chances of a worm emboli less likely.

 

It is important to restrict the animal's activity for at least four to six weeks once the treatment has begun.

 

If the ferret is suffering from severe heart problems or failure, it will need to be hospitalized and stabilized. The chest may also need to be tapped to remove any fluid that could have accumulated.

 

Prevention

 

Preventative medicine like selamectin or ivermectin should be given to ferrets who live in a high risk area and are allowed outside. In addition, eliminating mosquitoes from the ferret’s environment can help prevent heartworm disease.

 

Living and Management

 

After recovery, it is important to follow-up with immunization treatment. The veterinarian will also want to perform an antigen test three to four weeks after the medications are administered, and chest X-rays may be needed periodically to follow the ferret's progress.

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