Message Number: YG2549 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Mary R. Shefferman
Date: 2001-04-14 18:33:00 UTC
Subject: Big belly question - sick ferret

Hi All -- I've been lurking for a while, trying to catch up from
the beginning (ha!).

I have a question for the vets or anyone who might have some
suggestions. A little history: Knuks is a 6.5 year old dark-eyed
white. She's up to about 1 lb, 7 or 8 oz now -- she's normally a few
ounces less. She has a very tiny frame -- so this is a lot of weight
for her.

Medical history
-Left adrenal removed last year (responded beautifully)
-She has had two severe reactions to Fervac -- the first was in 1997
the second in 1999 (in 1998 she was pretreated and had no reaction).
We haven't vaccinated her for distemper since.
-Exploratory surgery at the end of February because she had (still
has) a palpable nodule of some sort in the area of the mesenteric
lymph node. An area near the lymph node was hemorrhagic with some
necrotic tissue. This could not be removed. Biopsies came back as
peritonitis & pancreatitis (no cancer). The right adrenal, pancreas,
liver, intestines all looked normal.

Before the surgery Knuks had been having cyclic diarrhea (with her
stools going from normal to bird-seedy to unformed to green sludge to
greenish liquid and back to normal over the course of 4 - 5 days) for
which we gave her Kaopectate. She had also been on metronidazole,
which seemed to help during treatment, but soon after she was back to
the diarrhea. During this time she lost only a little weight -- she
was down to 1 lb at her lightest (again, she's a tiny ferret, so
1 lb is a little thin for her, but not emaciated). She was eating and
drinking normally and was fairly active. After surgery, she was on a
course of amoxy for 14 days. She continued to eat and was active. The
episodes of diarrhea became shorter -- she'd have 1 or 2 liquid-like
stools instead of 2 to 4 before returning to normal. We stopped
giving her Kaopectate because it didn't seem to have an effect on the
cycle. A while after we stopped the Kaopectate, she began to put on a
little weight, but became a little less active. She continued to eat
and drink. Her stools became much better. But then, her belly began
to look disproportionately large -- so our vet checked for fluid (4-
quad stick, he called it), and there was none. He didn't feel
anything unusual -- just the same little nodule thing she had before
surgery. Temp, heart rate, breathing were fine. This was last
Thursday (4/5). She just finished a 10-day course of metronidazole.
Now she's inactive (becoming less active over the past week) and, we
noticed last night, is having some difficulty eating (swallowing a
lot, only eating two or three pieces at a time). Over the last couple
of days her stools have gotten a little smaller, though normal --
which would be explained by her having some difficulty with eating. I
spoke with another vet at the office because I'm still concerned about
Knuks' big belly and with these other things that have now come up.
The vet said the bloating/distention could be gas. She suggested SC
fluids and a bland diet. I've started giving Knuks chicken baby food,
which she doesn't quite love, but she's tasting it so she should
take to it pretty well. I'm going to start SC fluids in a little
while to see if that helps her. Her nose and gums are a little pale,
but her pads are pink. She is also having some episodes of shivering
for 15-20 minutes -- we've started putting a warm bottle of water
with her, which seems to help her. Her stools are normal most of the
time, though she does have an occasional dark green mucous stool.
(Actually, she just had a larger, normal stool a couple of minutes

So the question is: What else can I be doing for her? Obviously
she's got a bit going on with the peritonitis and pancreatitis --
not looking for miracles. But her big belly worries me and I wonder
if there's something we can do to make her more comfortable.
planning on taking her over to the vet (our regular vet) on Monday.
Is there a reason I should do something sooner than that?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

--Mary & the Fuzzies