Fungal skin infections are usually uncommon in ferrets and when they do occur, the most common one is ringworm. The types of ringworm pathogens that are typically seen in most ferrets are the Microsporium canis and Trichopython mentagrophytes. Ferrets develop ringworm from direct contact with infected animals or humans. Today we will study some home remedies and ways to treat ferret rashes caused by ringworm.
Symptoms of fungal ferret skin conditions
Ferrets with ringworm might show the following symptoms:
- Small papules on the skin that appear to spread peripherally
- The papules could, if left unchecked, lead to larger lesions with alopecia or hair loss
- Your pet might also show signs of inflammation all over the body
- The skin may become thick and there may be superficial crusts with broken hair shafts
- There may be excess itchiness, flaking and signs of discomfort.
It is very important to treat fungal ferret skin conditions immediately as failure to do so could lead to secondary or bacterial skin problems. These are often very difficult to treat. Also, ringworm in ferrets is a zoonotic disease which means it can spread to humans who handle the ferret.
Most ferrets often do not like baths. But a ferret with ringworm needs to be bathed with a vet approved anti-fungal shampoo. Be very careful when bathing ferrets. Excess shampooing using harsh products can strip off its natural oils and make the skin drier and flakier. As a result, the skin works overtime in producing more oils which can enhance the stink that ferrets with skin conditions often tend to have. However, worry not. The smell will improve within a couple of days. Ideally, you should not bathe your ferret more than once a month. Use a gentle, baby shampoo to wash its fur if your pet has no skin issues. Avoid using dish soaps or other harsh human, canine or feline shampoos. Your vet can also recommend shampoos for sensitive skin. Dog and cat shampoos often contain ingredients that may be good for dogs and cats but harsh for your ferret.
Anti fungal creams and Lime sulfur dips
Your doctor might also recommend a topical antifungal cream (with miconazole) for ringworm in ferrets. This will treat the superficial lesions but may not get rid of infective spores present on the coat. You might need to clip off excess hair to ensure that the cream gets deep down to the lesions present on the skin. This may not be possible always; therefore many vets recommend lime sulfur dips. Lime sulfur may be applied to the pet’s body once a week. Be careful when using the remedy-lime sulfur can stain clothes.
Oral medication for fungal ferret rashes
Two medicines that vets prescribe internally for fungal ferret skin conditions are Itraconazole and Griseofulvin. These are administered at the rate of 15mg/kg. If you use Itraconazole, monitor the liver enzyme concentration of the ferret periodically. On the other hand, if using griseofulvin, monitor the pet’s CBC count every 2 weeks. Also, your vet might prescribe a skin culture test to ensure that your pet is responding to treatment.
Treating the pet’s environment
It is vital to treat all of the animals in the household for ringworm. You must also steam clean the carpets and wash all linen, bedding etc in hot water. Use a mild bleach solution to clean all surfaces including furniture, the ferrets’ bedding and grooming tools as well as areas where it spends time. You might also want to replace the air conditioning filters and heating ducts. In case of bag-based vacuum cleaners, discard the used bags immediately.
Some more dos and don’ts for treating ringworm and ferret skin rashes
- Do note that most cases of ringworm in ferrets resolve on their own. You can use a bit of Calendula ointment on the rash to prevent itchiness.
- Don’t use tea tree oil or other essential oils on the ringworm lesions in ferrets as many of these so called natural ingredients are extremely toxic to them.
- You may use some providone betadine solution on the lesions but be careful when using as it may stain skin and clothes.
- Do educate children to wash their hands after petting the infected animals.
- Remember that this skin disease can be contagious. So people with compromised immune systems or patients undergoing chemotherapy etc must avoid handling infected animals.
- Always wear gloves when handling infected ferrets.
If the above remedies for ringworm in ferrets do not show results, seek help from a vet.