Message Number: YG1140 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-03-11 23:26:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Prednisone Use (long post)

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "Kymberlie Barone" <ferretlady@s...>

I know that prednisone usage in the ferret community has been
debated. The
reason for it is that many people have been comparing the effects of
pred to
those that happen on people. Ferrets are not people and unlike
people, they
tolerate prednisone wonderfully.

The side effects that people experience do
not seem to happen to ferrets. The only problem that I know of for
on prednisone is that it apparently wears away the lining of the
stomach and
gi tract, particularly if administered without food. However, the
deterioration is at such a slow rate that it should never cause harm
ferrets, again, particularly if care is taken to give pred along with
or to a ferret that is eating regularly. Pred is actually a blessing
to me
because it causes the ferret's appetite to increase, thus increase
food intake.


I will certainly agree with you on this point. While of course,
prednisone should only be given when called for, ferrets (a so-called
steroid-resistant species) do quite well with it, and do not appear
to suffer the problems which humans, dogs, cats, and many other
species do.

Regarding the ulcerogenic properties of prednisone - it has been well
documented in humans and dogs. However, I have only seen one case of
ulcers that could be attributed to the prednisone - and that was in a
terminal lymphoma patient on 5mg/lb for palliative therapy. It
doesn't really wear the lining down over time - that would be the
Helicobacter that so commonly affects our domestic ferrets.

Veterinarians today as they come out of school, are much better
schooled in the ills of overusage of prednisone than I was, and I
probably overused it earlier in my career.

However, I wish that someone would tell them not to withhold it in
appropriate situations in ferrets. It can be a godsend when used

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
Join the Ferret Health List at

P.S. - I have no doubt that you have amassed a tremendous amount of
medical expertise over the years in your capacity as a successful
rescuer and shelter operator. But it might be helpful for those who
have less experience if you counseled "taking the initiative in
treating common diseases" with assistance as needed by your vet,
rather than saying that you don't use the vet anymore. (A phone call
is not onerous for either party at the onset of a lifelong therapy).
While I am not saying that every disease needs a veterinary visit,
some less experienced people may take your advice as a blessing
to "go it alone" and put a ferret at risk in order to save time or