Foot and Toenail Disorders in Ferrets

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Pododermatitis and Nail Bed Disorders in Ferrets


Inflammation of the feet, including foot pads, nail beds, and between the toes, is referred to as pododermatitis. Causes for these type of disorders include infectious, allergic, cancerous, and environmental diseases, though it's uncommon in pet ferrets. Nails and nailfolds are also subject to trauma and degeneration.


Symptoms and Types


The following symptoms are commonly seen:


  • Lameness
  • Reddened/swollen paws
  • Painful and itchy paws
  • Fluid buildup in the paws
  • Small, solid masses
  • Thickened, raised, or flat top areas
  • Loss of the top portion of the skin
  • Deformity or shedding of the nail
  • Discharge from the paws
  • Inflammation of the soft tissue around the nail




Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections can cause this form of skin inflammation to develop, especially those that have not been vaccinated against canine distemper virus. There are also two forms of parasitic infections caused by mange (which is caused by mites): one involving primarily the feet, another more generalized or localized to other areas of the body. Other potential causes for it can include cancer, trauma, poor grooming, decreased levels of thyroid hormones, increased levels of steroids present, and irritants from the environment.




Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination to try and identify the underlying cause of the inflammation. He or she may ask your questions about the ferret's environment and its diet. By conducting skin scrapings, cultures, and microscopic examination of any fluid or pus from lesions, your veterinarian can deduce the type of infection. He or she will be most concerned that your ferret has canine distemper virus, mange, or possibly even cancer.