Date: 2001-03-15 04:53:00 UTC
Subject: Re: [Ferret-Health-list] Lysodren vs. Lupron
In a message dated 3/14/01 6:14:20 PM Eastern Standard Time,
> How can you
> tell the difference between seasonal shedding and adrenal disease?
> Both of them have had "rat tail" before and the hair has grown back.
> Her vulva is not swollen at all. I have read that ultrasounds don't
> always pick up adrenal disease. Is there a blood test or something
> that could confirm that she does need the surgery?
I'm not a vet, just a shelter operator - but the easiest way I can
differentiate between seasonal shedding and adrenal disease is this: you
should never see bare skin. Even the heaviest sheds from winter to summer
coats never expose bare areas of skin, while it is very typical to determine
an adrenal kid (IMO) by the loss of the undercoat to where bare flesh can be
The next visual test that I use is when the hair loss is such that areas of
bare skin are exposed and using the spine as a guide, I look at the hairloss
to the right and left of the spinal column. If its a seasonal loss, the
patches should be erratically placed and not symmetrical - but adrenals
produce bilateral, symmetrical hair loss patterns. I don't personally
consider 'rat tail' to be a signature of adrenal gland disease.
Then there is age and behaviors - any kid between the ages of 4-6 who begin
to exhibit signs of returning to sexual readiness get another mark towards a
diagnosis of adrenals. Swollen vulvas, increased odor, extreme mothering
instincts in females, agression, marking behavior, dribbling urine, eye rings
and mounting females in males.
Finally, I have never used the Tennessee Panel test. Here in VA, the cost is
120.00, and I would rather put that towards surgery than to 'put the nail in
the coffin' of an adrenal diagnosis - but then my situation is different than
the typical ferret owner - I see probably 10 adrenal kids each year. Right
now for 2001, I have 4 lined up for surgery - 2 boys and 2 girls. Boys take
priority over girls, unless there are extenuating circumstances, so Tigger
the 6.5 year old male, gets to go first. Rascis the 5yo boy, is next and will
get a lupron shot the day I drop off Tigger. Kaya the 5yo girl and Iyami the
1.8yo girl are in a holding pattern. The vet is comfortable with a 6 month
reevaluation to determine when they will have surgery.
In your case, I would use your best judgement and continue to consult with
your vet. From what you have described the only hairloss has been on the
tail, so its possible that the hairloss is due to blackheads on the tail
caused by a seasonal shed. I would make regular visits with your vet to
monitor the progress of hair regrowth or hair loss.
Lisa Leidig, Head Ferret
The Ferret Haven "By-the-Sea"