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Ferret Vaccines

By: Dr. Heidi Hoefer

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There is always a risk of an adverse response or reaction to a vaccine. While the rabies shot can result in an injection reaction, this is seen more commonly with the distemper vaccines.

The vaccine reaction is an allergic-type response that is characterized by profuse vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. The reaction usually occurs within 12 hours of the shot and most cases are within the first 60 minutes.

Your veterinarian must administer treatment for a vaccine reaction as soon as possible. Steroids, antihistamines, and sometimes epinephrine must be given by injection to the affected ferret. Most reactions are controllable with these drugs and most ferrets quickly respond to treatment. Ferrets that have vaccine reactions are still protected against the virus.

The decision to re-vaccinate a ferret with a history of past reactions should be discussed your veterinarian. One must weigh the potential risks of vaccine reactions against the risk of contracting the distemper virus.

Following vaccines, it may be prudent to wait in the veterinarian's office for 30-60 minutes to observe for any reactions to the shots. Observe your vaccinated ferret for the rest of the day and report any unusual behavior to your veterinarian.

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