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2008-05

Dear Frank B. Ferret

Can ferrets get heartworms? If so, should my ferrets use a heartworm preventive? They often accompany me outdoors, and we live at the New Jersey shore, where heartworm disease is common in dogs that don’t use preventive.

Frank Responds

The answers to your questions are yes and yes.

Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. A ferret bitten by an infected mosquito is as susceptible to getting heartworms as a dog.

Heartworms damage the heart, lungs and blood vessels, sometimes producing severe disease. Treatment options are limited, so it’s wise to prevent infection.

Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical manufacturers haven’t developed a heartworm preventive just for us ferrets, so most veterinarians recommend one of the preventives approved for cats and dogs.

The easiest to use is a topical liquid dropped on the skin just in front of our shoulder blades.

The most popular of such products are Revolution and Advantage Multi. Note that the second product is not the flea preventive, but a combination of imidacloprid plus moxidectin.

Both products protect against fleas and ear mites, in addition to heartworms. Revolution goes a step further, also preventing infection by roundworms and hookworms, intestinal worms that can be transmitted to humans.

These products are available only by prescription, so make an appointment with your veterinarian soon, before mosquito season begins.

 

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