Heartworm Disease in Ferrets

by Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians: aemv.org

Many people have heard of heartworm disease in dogs, but not everyone is aware that pet cats and ferrets are also at risk of developing this potentially fatal disease.  Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm (Dirofilaria immitis) that is transmitted via mosquito bites.  In brief, the mosquito bites an infected dog and ingests immature heartworms, called microfilaria. When the infected mosquito bites another dog, cat, or ferret the microfilaria are injected into the animal’s bloodstream.  The worms develop into larvae and migrate through the tissue into the blood stream, making their way to the heart where they mature and may reach lengths of up to 10 inches.

Ferrets have very small hearts and even a single adult worm can result in illness.  The worms not only interfere with the function of the heart, but small fragments may break off and travel through the blood stream to the lungs where they can cause serious lung disease.

All ferrets in “endemic” heartworm areas are potentially at risk. An endemic area is an area where the climate supports enough mosquitoes to keep the disease cycle going. Even ferrets kept indoors 100% of the time might encounter a mosquito inside the house.

Heartworm disease in ferrets is relatively uncommon, and can potentially be treated.  However, as heartworm disease can be serious or even fatal, owners should consider heartworm prevention medication, which is safe, effective and inexpensive.


We believe in nurturing the human-animal bond and creating a harmonious relationship between people and animals. You can expect to be greeted by a courteous receptionist, clean exam rooms, friendly doctors, and caring technicians. We appreciate the role we get to play in your pet’s health care.
The Cat Friendly Practice® program is leading the movement to make veterinary care less stressful for cats and their caregivers.
Accreditation by AAHA means that an animal hospital has been evaluated on approximately 900 standards of veterinary excellence.
Fear Free provides unparalleled education on emotional wellbeing, enrichment, and the reduction of fear, anxiety, and stress in pets.

Make An Appointment

Please click the link to complete the request an appointment form. Please also note that availability will vary depending on your request. Your appointment will be confirmed by phone by a member of our staff. Thank you!

Contact Us:

  • 6321 W Hwy 146
    Crestwood, KY 40014
  • Hours:

    8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. ~ Monday
    8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. ~ Tuesday
    8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. ~ Wednesday
    8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. ~ Thursday
    8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. ~ Friday
    8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. ~ Saturday
    CLOSED ~ Sunday

Proudly Supporting: