Message Number: YG2868 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-04-23 13:39:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Very sick ferrets, vets, please help

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "Ulrike" <ferretlove@n...> wrote:
> Hello
> My Mason was acting very sick this morning. Yesterday he was
> around and playing and eating well and this morning he was wobbly
on his
> feet, very weak, lethargic, depressed, very thirsty, he went to the
> bowl, drank a little, then he just stood over the bowl and didn't do
> anything like he forgot what he was doing. Like his mind went
blank. He
> couldn't manage to go into the toilet to have a pee. When I fed
him, he
> didn't seem to want to eat and he was shaking and shivering after
he had a
> little but about an hour later I gave him more and he was happy to
eat and
> was okay after eating. He's very floppy when I hold him, just lies
in my
> arms, doesn't seem to have any energy. He felt hot to me but when
we got to
> the vets, his temperature was normal. I also used some urine
strips on him
> to see if he had sugar in his urine but it was negative. The vet
felt his
> tummy and couldn't feel anything so suggested a blood test and an x-

Dear Ulrike:

Over here, most people would probably start with a blood glucose
test, because the symptoms are very suggestive of hypoglycemia due to
an insulinoma - blank stares, wobbly, limp, and improving after
eating. We see it all the time, although I know it is very uncommon
in the UK. I would strongly suggest a clinical chemistry to go with
your CBC (which by the way, looks normal - perhaps a tad dehydrated.)

Urine sticks work for diabetes - which is the opposite of insulinoma -
no insulin and high glucose levels - but they don't tell you
anything about normal or decreased levels of glucose.

> The blood test results are:
> HCT = 56.5%
> HGB = 20.7 g/dl
> MCHC = 36.6 g/dl
> WBC # 9.3 x 10^9/L
> GRANS = 7.7 x 10^9/L
> %GRANS # 83%
> L/M # 1.6 x 10^9/L
> %L/M # 17%
> PLT > 18 x 10^9/L
> The # means that the result isn't accurate because something didn't
> properly, the vet explained it but I didn't quite understand why it
> accurate.
> The x-ray showed something in Mason's chest. My vet doesn't quite
know what
> to make of it and will phone somebody who may know how to analyse
the x-ray.
> There seems to be something in his chest that shouldn't be there.
My vet
> said something about a possible lymphoma? Whatever it is, it seems
to be
> pushing the heart out of it's place. My vets x-rayed Igor and Jack
> their hearts were in the middle but Mason's is more on one side.
The lungs
> are clear, there seems to be no fluid. The mass is in a cavity
between the
> heart and lungs and is pushing the heart over to one side (I think
the left)
> and the right hand lung is being compressed. It doesn't seem to be
> now but the speed he's gone downhill, who knows what he'll be like
> My vet isn't actually sure whether it is a mass but if the heart is
not in
> it's place... Mason is on antibiotics for now and I syringe him
fluid as he
> seems dehydrated.

Usually, the presenting sign for thoracic lymphoma is difficulty
breathing. Occasionally you'll see shadows in the chest that are due
to a little extra fat in the mediastinum - if he has a thoracic LSA
that is causing clinical signs, the radiograpjic findings usually
show significant abnormalities.

> The vets took the blood from the jugular vein and didn't have to
sedate him,
> he held still for them. When he had his x-ray, he just laid on the
> and they didn't even need to hold him... That's not good for a
> My other guys have never held still when the vets attempted to get
> from the jugular vein, no matter how sick they were...

Let's see what the glucose level is first off.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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