Message Number: YG2664 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-04-17 20:01:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Knuks update - ascites/ big belly

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "Mary R. Shefferman" <ModFerret@a...>
> Knuks has been at the vet since yesterday. Our vet had pulled some
> blood-tinged fluid from her abdomen while we were there and an x-
> showed ascites. Later on he took out about 200-250 ccs
> fluid. Bloodwork showed anemia (hct 27; rbc 4.36), low protein, low
> calcium, but liver and kidney values were fine. Her temp is low
> (she's in the incubator there). She's on steroids (I'm assuming
> pred), antibiotics (don't know which), and fluids. She's eating OK
> for being at the vet's (he was going to get her some Gerber's
> baby food, since she was happy to take that at home). He doesn't
> on doing surgery at this time, prefering to see what happens with
> meds. He feels that this could be the peritonitis (as a biopsy had
> shown back at the end of Feb), so he's treating it as such (as far
> I know, steroids and antibiotics are what you do for peritonitis).
> Do ferrets come out of this sort of thing? Our vet is very
> saying she's not out of the woods, but he's obviously not giving up
> on her. Still, he seems to want to keep us from being too hopeful.
> If she makes it home, what kinds of things can we do to help her
> (bland diet? low exertion?)? She is 6.5 y.o. and has been through
> bad vaccine reactions, which I think took a lot out of her. But she
> is very willful. Any suggestions?

Dear Mary:

Have you totally ruled out the possibility of heart disease? You
don't mention the results of a CBC - a peritonitis severe enough to
result in the accumulation of this much ascites would probably also
result in a pretty severely elevated WBC count.

Were the X-rays repeated after the fluid was removed. This amount of
ascites, when present, generally results in a total obscuring of all
abdominal detail - everything is a milky white. If you can remove
enough fluid, then you can reshoot the radiographs and perhaps a
neoplasm that was previously obscured. And was the fluid spun down
and examined for the presence of neoplastic cells (and other types of
normal cells quantitated?

Unfortunately, it is tough to say whether a ferret can come out of
such a thing, as I don't think we have a definitive diagnosis yet. I
would say that ascites is not a good prognostic sign. Bacterial
peritonitis rarely causes this level of ascites. It is most commonly
seen in heart disease (I hate to keep harping on this), and rarely in
abdominal malignancies. I think we are still at this point.

With kindest regards,

Bruce Williams, dVM