Message Number: YG1765 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-03-26 23:00:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Ferret dying??? Need help

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., mikeacy@y... wrote:
>Bandit is 3. About 2 months ago he started to scratch
> serverly. So much so that he was loosing his hair around his neck
> and forming scabs. We took her to the vet and the vet recommended
> antibiotic to clear up her cuts caused by the scratching and
> Benadryl. The vet thought the ferret was having an allergic
> since he seemed fine otherwise. He was eating and drinking. Well
> were not happy with the diagnosis so decided to get another
> This second vet felt that a ultra sound was necessary. We had one
> done and the results showed (so they say) an enlarge adrenal gland,
> tumor on the pancreas, and lymphoma. (sorry for all the mis-spelled
> words).

I'm not seeing any mis-spelled words here. One thing that I am
concerned about here, is that there may be an overdiagnosis by
ultrasound (you don't mention if there are any other tests performed.)

An ultrasound is like an X-ray - it shows differences in density
between tissues. You can pick up enlargement of various tissues, an
increase in density (or a decrease in density), but it is difficult
to establish exactly the cause of these changes in many instances.

While the ultrasound can fairly accurately predict an adrenal tumor
due to the enlargement of the gland, it poorly predicts pancreatic
tumors or lymphoma totally on its own. Enlargement in the pancreas
can be aging changes (hyperplasia of the exocrine, or digestive,part
o the pancreas, rather than the endocrine, or hormonal part of the
pancreas), or a pancreatic lymph node. Lymphoma is also a difficult
call on ultrasound alone - an enlarged node can be enlarged due to
reactive hyperplasia in response to inflammation in the GI tract,
much more often than it is a tumor.

Of course, bloodwork is very helpful in confirming these diagnoses,
but you don't mention that it was ever performed.

The vet gave no hope for the ferret except prednisone. This
> was a month ago. We have been feeding bandit by hand. We have
> giving him baby food with the prednisone. He is eating well.
> of fact he eats regular Marshall ferret food also on his own. But
> does look terrible. He lost almost all his hair and lost weight.
> also lost the use of his feet...though his legs still move.

This may be solely due to the adrenal disease - ferrets with adrenal
disease have marked hair loss and can have muscle wasting, resulting
in marked hindlimb weakness..

Perhaps I am missing something here, but I don't think that based on
the information presented here, or the tests that you have reported,
that these particular diagnoses (although they may eventually prove
true) have necessarily been proven.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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