What conditions are we referring to? Distemper and rabies viruses! Both of these diseases are ultimately fatal in ferrets, causing horrible neurological signs, and fortunately, they are completely preventable with simple vaccinations. You haven’t given these vaccinations to your ferret for risk of reaction, you say? Or, your ferret got these vaccines years ago, so he or she doesn’t need them again, you say? These are responses veterinarians hear from many ferret owners, so let’s set the record straight. First, while certainly anyone (ferret, person, or other animal) can have a reaction to a vaccine, the incidence of vaccine reactions has dramatically decreased since newer brands of vaccine against both rabies and distemper virus have been developed for ferrets and since we started administering a Benadryl injection just prior to giving the shots. Asking ferret owners to stay in the hospital waiting room for 15 minutes after the vaccine is administered so that the ferret can be monitored for reaction and treated accordingly if it occurs has also made vaccination safer. Plus, we never give both distemper and rabies vaccinations in the same day to lessen the risk of reaction. Second, our response to the claim that ferrets who have received these vaccines in the past do not need them again is that studies have shown that any immune system protection (antibodies) that ferrets develop after initially getting these vaccines actually wanes over time, so that they are no longer protected. These vaccines need to be boostered annually to provide adequate protection. Given the incidence of rabies in wildlife (which your ferret could be exposed to if he/she gets out) and the occurrence of distemper virus in dogs (which you can carry into your house on your shoes), it is essential that your ferret be protected. In addition, Westchester County, NY, and several other counties in the U.S. require rabies vaccination by law, not only to protect your pet from contracting the disease if he or she is exposed to it, but also to prevent your pet from being confiscated by health officials if your pet nips someone else. Don’t take any chances; the consequences are too high. Call your veterinarian today to schedule your ferret’s vaccination appointment.