Message Number: YG3037 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-04-29 14:37:00 UTC
Subject: Re: update on Arthur

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "Susan D." <ferretsarecool@h...>
> Hi,
> Arthur made it through the night. They're going to do the blood
> this morning.
> To the vets on this list, or anyone else that might have an idea:
My vet,
> Dr. Kim, doesn't have any idea what this could be. The blood tests
> show anything that gives her any idea. Dr. Kim did mention doing x-
rays. I
> posted what little I knew yesterday - recap: Arthur has 9% of his
> should be 46%. Phospherus, protein, and calcium are all very low,
his red
> cells are less than a quarter of what they should be. There are a
> immature red cells.
> Any ideas to what could have caused this to start happening?

Dear Susan,

Reading the back story on this case, there still isn't a lot of
information. To decide the cause of anemia in this case, I would
have to be able to look at the entire bloodwork - there are a number
of causes of anemia in ferrets, and it is difficult to tell which one
has resulted in this very low hematocrit. But regardless of the
cause, once the PCV hits single digits, the prognosis is not good.
Packed cell volumes of single digits result in a greatly decreased
oygenation of the body, and renal and liver damage may be the result.

The passage of bloody poop suggests a number of causes - a gastric
ulcer has to be considered, or shock from a number of causes. (A
more detailed discussion of shock and intestinal bleeding is
avaialble in the FHL archives.)

Regarding the discussion of using cat blood in ferrets - I would
stronly advise against this. While ferrets can be transfused to
other ferrets without fear of reaction as they do not have antigens
on their cells which result in major reactions, it is highly unlikely
that the red blood cell makeup from another unrelated mammal (not
just species here, but genus and family, would be accepted without a
major reaction. (I don't know if anyone has scientific data on this
one, as such an experiment would be so highly illogical in terms of

There is however, an alternative for animals in urgent need of
transfusion with no donors about. There is now a commerciall
available synthetic hemoglobin which can be used similar to a
transfusion. It has no red blood cells in it, but is a suspension of
hemoglobin, the compound which enables RBCs to carry oxygen.

It is not inexpensive (about 1500 dollars/liter) - so it would
probably be a minimum of $200 per transfusion, and it only lasts for
24 hours, but often this is enough to get ahold of ferret blood for

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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