Your Pet Question:
Can ferrets and dogs get along? I would like to get one but I have two big German shepherds, and I wouldn’t want them to eat it!
Dan Forthing, Tremblant, Quebec
The Expert Says:
The definition of ‘getting along’ can be very broad when it comes to household pets. For some, it simply means peaceful co-habitation, but for others it means harmonious interaction. In this case, aim for the first and assume separate pet care until proven otherwise. Ensure your home is large enough to arrange supervised ‘ferret play time’ where the dogs are kept elsewhere. Purchase an escape-proof enclosure for the ferrets and ensure the dogs cannot knock it over or gain access to it while you are away. Since your time will be divided between the dogs and the ferret, consider obtaining two ferrets as opposed to one. Ferrets love to play and sleep together. Consider the age, training and personality of your dogs and how they interact with new things. Ferrets have long bodies and move quickly which can be interpreted as a ‘moving toy’ to a dog, so never leave the ferrets and dogs out together unattended. Ferrets and dogs are both susceptible to canine distemper and his disease is fatal for ferrets; so if adding ferrets to your household, it is particularly important that your dogs’ vaccinations are kept up to date.
Dr. Kerry Korber has practiced bird, rabbit, rodent, reptile, ferret and exotic pet medicine since 1985 at Calgary Avian & Exotic Pet Clinic, Calgary, Alberta.