I'm not talking about products like Hartz Bio-Spot, I'm referring to Frontline, Revolution and Advantage.
Frontline is my favorite for fleas. You can get it from your vet, and some pet supplies stores carry it, too. [Now available in generic form. You want the one that contains "fipronil".] You can use either a whole kitten dose, or split it between two ferrets. You can also use 2-3 drops of the cat or dog versions. It's important NOT to bathe your ferret within two days before or after you use the product, since it needs the skin oils to distribute properly. You put the product on the skin at the back of the neck (where it's hard to lick off), trying not to waste it by getting it on the fur. After two days, it's distributed throughout the skin oils over the entire ferret and getting the ferret wet won't affect its effectiveness.
Frontline also kills ticks, and we've had lots of chances to prove that! Several ferrets came in with fleas and ticks, and all fleas were dead or dying within 1 hour, and all ticks were dead in 24 hours. Ticks are much harder to kill, and Frontline only lasts for 1 month against ticks. It protects against fleas for up to 3 months (and that has been my experience, too.)
Revolution is my next favorite product. Again, you use the kitten dose and apply to the back of the neck. This product is absorbed differently, and is waterproof after only a couple hours. It does control ear mites in ferrets (like cats), which is why I like it so much. It kills fleas, but is not effective against ticks. You can use both Frontline and Revolution at the same time. Revolution also controls heartworm, and it can only be purchased through a vet. Here at the shelter, any ferret who has been loose outside receives both Frontline and Revolution (usually a week apart).
Advantage is a product similar to Frontline that kills fleas and has a reputation for being gentle. According to the instructions, it can be used on young animals, but we don't have experience with it.
If the ferret has a bad infestation, and you can't get the Frontline quickly (I keep it around the house), you can use a flea comb (the metal ones are easier, but any of them will work) and a glass of hot, soapy water. You comb through the fur quickly and instantly dunk the comb into the glass. The hot water and soap kills the fleas but doesn't harm the ferret (if you're using a metal comb, make sure the comb cools off a little before you comb the ferret again). Keep doing this until you don't get more fleas. Pay attention to the face, under the chin, and the back of the neck. The fleas tend to hide where the ferret can't reach. You'll have to do this several times a day, as new fleas are always hatching, and the combs don't catch the tiny ones very well.
Also keep in mind that fleas can transmit tapeworm. Keep a close eye on the feces of any ferret who has had a flea infestation. If you see the telltale white blobs (they look like rice) of tapeworm segments, have the ferret treated immediately by a vet. Do not use over the counter tapeworm products. They don't usually work and can be harmful to your ferret. Revolution controls some internal parasites in dogs/cats, but it hasn't been tested for effectiveness in ferrets. It won't hurt to try it, though.
A good program to keep your ferrets protected would be to use Revolution monthly for its protection against ear mites and heartworm, and Frontline every 3 months for its protection against fleas. If your ferret is out in tall grass or weeds, check it carefully for ticks. You may need to apply Frontline monthy during tick season. Treat ALL animals in the house ... this will protect you and them from fleas and ticks, AND keep your house from being infested. Take it from me, a household flea infestation is a real pain. They're difficult to get rid of (it *is* possible, though) and "bombs" don't really seem to work all that well. The flea bombs are dangerous for your ferrets and other animals, too. It's much easier (and cheaper) to control the problem by treating all animals in the house. If you have a big problem with fleas, you should spray a safe pesticide around your yard (I've used Sevin). Make sure it says "pet safe" if you have dogs or cats that use the yard, and definitely keep your ferrets off treated areas.
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