NOLA Pet Doctors: Ferrets Can Get Heartworms Too

METAIRIE, La. (WGNO) - Ferrets are quickly becoming a favorite pet for people not wanting a dog or cat, but unfortunately they too are susceptible to the same serious health issues dogs and cats are.

Meet Owen. He’s a ferret being nursed back to health at West Esplanade Veterinary Clinic and Bird Hospital.

Owen has heartworms, which have caused a blood clot that is cutting off the circulation to his back legs.

“This x-ray should be perfectly clear–should be able to see the lungs with no fluid around them… All of this white area is all fluid in the chest cavity… That fluid is not gonna go away unless we get the heartworms killed and the body can start pumping out that fluid,” Dr. Gregory Rich explained.

He said ferrets get heartworms the same way dogs or cars do — from mosquitoes.

One tiny bite and a microscopic heartworm can swim into the bloodstream and then grow huge in a pet’s small heart.

“They’re about 3 to 3 and a half inches long in a heart about the size of a grape,” Dr. Rich said.

But there is good news. The treatment poisons the heartworms and the latest blood test shows that little Owen is getting better week-by-week, day-by-day.

“I feel like we’re gonna have a good outcome with this one,” Dr. Rich said.

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