Message Number: YG2177 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-04-04 18:58:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Two sick ferrets -- one urgent question

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., lchez1965@y... wrote:
Part two -

> Now on to Kahlua ~ aka Callie. She is our petite, beautiful little
> butterscotch who is now 5 years old. Callie has always been tiny,
> weighing about 1 1/4 pounds. Always, from day one, her vulva was
> swollen. About two and a half years ago, she had an adrenalectomy.
> She came thru with flying colors. Now, about a month ago, she
> started to show signs of being in distress. She was sleeping more,
> scratching a lot, eating less, had diarrhea and was losing weight.
> We took her for blood tests, and, like Tigger, her levels came back
> high for protein also, as well as her white and red counts were
> high. We tried supportive care, but she continued to go downhill.
> Her spleen was enlarged. Finally, last week, our vet said he did
> know what was wrong with her but suggested that sometimes removing
> large spleen in a ferret works wonders. He encouraged us to get
> Callie the operation. Her spleen was getting bigger, and she was
> becoming more and more lethargic. (We could even feel her
> So, this past Monday, Callie underwent the operation. She went
> it at 545 grams and came out at 434. They said her speeln was 1/3
> the size of a 14 pound cat. It was huge. Unfortunately, there was
> malignant mass in it. The cancer also spread to her intestines and
> lympnodes. We are awaitng the biopsy results and ~ believe it or
> ~ are hoping it is lymphoma as we were told she could get some
> quality extra time with chemo whereas with the other cancers chemo
> doesn't work well. We are devastated. (We have already lost 6 of
> our other lovies to cancer. It is so unfair how these wonderful
> companions et so sick.) Now, finally on to my questions. When we
> brought Callie home last night, she was doing surprisingly well.
> was eating the gruel and fairly alert. However, she was unsteady
> her feet and tipped over a few times. When this happened, she
> to have trouble getting up and "dragged" her back legs. By this
> morning, she was basically paralyzed in her hind legs. (She also
> seems very pale to me.) We saw the vet tonight, and he said he
> didn't know what is causing this paralysis. It could be from
> weakness, but he doubts it because of the way I described how it
> happened. He said she could have thrown a blood clot after the
> surgery and it may have gone to the spinal cord. Or she could have
> lymphoma in the cord. However, upon examining her and palpating,
> said she didn't seem to be in pain. He put her on a quarter of a 5
> mg tablet of pred twice a day for the next two days and then wants
> decrease it. Has anyone had any experience with something like
> this? Any suggestions on helping her and making her more
> comfortable? If a blood clot did cause this, is it reversible?

Dear Lisa - Without being on site, this is a very difficult question
to answer. While my first thought, especially since you mention she
seems pale (remember a huge spleen may contain a lot of blood which
is lost to the body on removal) is that it is indeed weakness, but
now that you mention that she is paralyzed in her hindlegs, I have to
consider that it may be related to the surgery. I have never seen a
ferret throw a clot after a splenectomy, but if this is the case, you
usually would see diminished pulse and a distinct coldness to the

If it is a blood clot, blood clots are rarely reversible, because the
occlude blood flow to the affected areas, which results in a lack of
oxygen - this is where the damage occurs. But blood clots are very
rare in this area of the ferret - I've only seen one.

I think at this point, the prednisone and good nursing care is your
best bet for recovery. Don't give up just yet.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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