Health Issues & Medications For Ferrets, Rabbits, & Rats

With the increasing popularity of small pets such as ferrets, rabbits, and rats, it is vitally important to have a current, working knowledge of common pathologies and unique biological factors that must be considered when treating these patients with pharmaceuticals.



Ferrets are susceptible to a variety of diseases throughout their lives.  A common acute care issue that will result in an office visit by many ferret parents is diarrhea.  Diarrhea in ferrets may be caused by a variety of gastrointestinal issues (colitis, viruses, bacteria, and parasites).  Ferrets are also highly susceptible to adrenal gland tumors, insulinoma, and lymphosarcoma. Unfortunately, these cancers frequently occur together in the same animal.1

There are many prescription medications that can be used to treat diarrhea in ferrets. The drug of choice will depend on a variety of factors, including the age of the patient and the cause of the GI disturbance. Below is a list of antiinfectives (not just for diarrhea) that are available for compounding from Monument Pharmacy.  Some medications such as metrodnidazole are very bitter and difficult to administer.  To increase compliance, consider a ferret-friendly flavored oral suspension such as banana, peanut butter, or marshmallow.  For dosing, Colorado State University Veterinary Hospital recommends if ferret dosing guidelines are unavailable on a particular pharmaceutical, follow feline dosing guidelines.

  • Ampicillin: available in capsules and suspension
  • Amoxicillin- available in capsule and suspension
  • Cefadroxil: availabe in commercial fruit-flavored suspension (NOT compounded)
  • Ciprofloxacin: available in capsule and suspension
  • Clarithromycin: availabe in suspension
  • Doxycycline: availabe in capsules and suspension
  • Enrofloxacin: available in capsules, suspension, transdermal. Should not be used in growing animals as it may interfere with bone development. 2
  • Gentamicin: should NEVER be used in ferrets as it causes fatal nephropathy3
  • Ivermection: available in suspension
  • Ketoconazole: available in capsules and suspension
  • Metronidazole: available in capsules, suspension, transdermal
  • Sulfa/Trimethoprim: availabe in suspension
  • Tetracycline: available in capsules and suspension. Should not be used in pregnant Jills or Kits under 11 weeks due to interference with bone and tooth growth3

Other frequently requested compounds for gastrointestinal distress include chloramphenicol (for colitis4), sucralfate, metoclopramide, cimetidine, and famotidine.

Cancer treatments that are available in compounded forms are listed below

  • Anastrozole: 0.23mg capsule only (for insulinoma5)
  • Diazoxide: available in capsules and suspension (for insulinoma4)
  • Flutamide: available in suspension (for adrenal tumor4)
  • Mitotane: available in capsules or suspension (for adrenal tumors5). Contraindicated if insulinoma is present.
  • Prednisolone: available in capsules and suspension (for insulinoma4)

Other medications that are frequently requested for small animals include chlorpheniramine, dexamethosone, melatonin, enalapril, atenolol, furosemide, digoxin, and azathioprine.



Pet rabbits are generally healthy, but may present for an office visit with an upper respiratory infection (aka “snuffles”). Rabbits are also prone to internal and external parasites.  Common culprits are coccidia, pinworms, ear and fur mites, and fleas.  A banana flavored suspension is a popular choice.  When treating rabbits, NEVER use penicillins, clindamycin, erythromycin, or lincomycin as they can cause fatal dysbiosis. 4



The most common health complaints for rats and other rodents include respiratory infection, intestinal parasites, and mammary tumors. 4  Frequently encountered intestinal parasites include pinworms and tapeworms.  Aggressive treatment may be desired as rats carry many infections that can be transmitted to humans including leptospirosis, streptococcus pneumoniae (can cause respiratory and meningeal disease in humans), and salmonella.  Rats are very individualized in their flavor preferences, but the most common flavor requests for suspensions are fruit flavors or peanut butter.

For prescribers and their patients, quality means accuracy, consistency, professionalism and service.  At Monument Pharmacy, our licensed pharmacists and certified technicians prepare all of our compounded products with the utmost attention to detail regarding purity, potency, and consistency.  All ingredients are sourced from FDA-licensed suppliers and compounded prescriptions are prepared according to exacting Federal and Colorado State standards.

Most orders received prior to 3pm can be shipped out the same business day. When you call, you will always reach one of our friendly customer care specialists in person, right here in Monument, Colorado.  We have competitive pricing and will price match competitors; as an added value, we are able to ship many prescriptions via USPS first-class mail at no charge!  Our goal is for your service to be second to none; in fact, you’re satisfaction is guaranteed! You can count on us to exceed your expectations.  Feel free to contact us for details.


1. Kahn, Cynthia, et al.  The Merck Veterinary Manual (10th Edition). Whitehouse Station, NJ:  Merck & Co, Inc., 2010

2.  Mitchell, Mark. “Therapeutic Review: Enrofloxacin.”  Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, Vol 15, No 1 (January), 2006: pp 66-69

3.  Fox, James G., Marini, Robert P. Biology and Disease of the Ferret, Third Edition. UK: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2014

4. Mitchell, Mark A., Tully, Thomas N. Manual of Exotic Pet Practice. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders, 2009

5. Plumb, Donald C. Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook, 10th Ed. Stockholm, WI: Pharmavet, Inc., 2008

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