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Summer Heat Reminder

By Mary Van Dahm

Summer Heat Reminder -- By Mary Van Dahm

It’s that time of year when outdoor temperatures are on the rise. Indoor temperatures can get pretty steamy, too, especially if you do not have air conditioning!

Ferrets do NOT tolerate heat very well. Temperatures over 85° can be fatal to your ferret if he can’t find a place to cool off! If you do not have air conditioning in your home, move your ferret’s cage to the coolest area possible (usually the basement). If you don’t have a basement, direct a fan toward your ferret’s cage. Frequently mist your ferret with cold water from a spray bottle or let him have access to a cool pan of water that he can splash around in to cool himself off. (My ferrets love it when I float a few ice cubes in the water. They ‘bob’ for them like apples!)

You can also freeze plastic gallon or 1/2 gallon milk bottles or 2 liter pop bottles 3/4 full of water and place the frozen bottles in your ferret’s cage so he can cool himself off by laying against the frozen bottles. (Be sure not to fill the bottles all the way to leave room for expansion of the ice. Otherwise the bottle may split and you will have water everywhere when the ice starts to melt!)

The frozen bottles can also be used when traveling with your pet in warm weather. Be sure to secure the bottles in the carrier so they don’t roll around and injure your pet.

Never leave your ferret in a car – even on seemingly cool days. The temperature in your car can reach 120° in less than 10 minutes on a 75° day! If you are traveling with your ferret, make sure that his cage or carrier is in a shady spot inside your car. (This spot can vary as the angle of the sun changes during the course of the day or as you turn different directions, so check on your ferret often).

If your car breaks down somewhere, take your ferret’s carrier out of the car and try to set it in a shady spot off of the asphalt. If you have to walk to get help, take your ferret with you. Never leave him alone unattended. If his cage or carrier is too big to take with you, try waiting for help at your car and leave your pet only as a last resort.

How can you tell if your ferret is getting overheated? Symptoms usually include panting, lethargy, a bright red nose and dark red foot pads, and finally, unconsciousness and death, if not treated quickly. If your ferret does get overheated, cradle his head with a cool wet rag and cover your ferret’s torso and legs with a cool, wet towel. You can also dip his body (not his head or he will drown!) in cool NOT COLD! – water. If the water is too cold, he could develop hypothermia or go into shock. You are just trying to return his body to a normal temperature(101°). If you have Pedialyte or Gatorade on hand (or mix up a little sugar water), offer him some – but only if he is conscious. Never put any thing in your ferret’s mouth if he is unconscious or he may choke. Watch for your ferret to revive and call your veterinarian for further instructions.

Let’s have a safe and fun summer and be sure to keep it safe for your critters, too!

[intlink id=”fair”]This article originally appeared in the July/August 2003 issue of "The F.A.I.R. Report".[/intlink]