Message Number: YG3074 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-04-30 14:57:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Help! Sick?

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "FurTulsa" <FURTulsa@H...> wrote:
Dr. Willaims... if you do not mind... I would like very much to
discuss further the use of Antibiotic... either on here or
privately,whichever you feel more appropriate. I have gotten much
contradicting advice on that and, as I greatly respect your opinions,
would like to discuss your feelings on it more.

I'm happy to discuss the issue online, but I am not sure that without
specific questions, I am going to be able to elaborate much more than
the general statements below.

Vets rely on definite indications for the use of antibiotics ( or at
least the good vets do.) I'm not wanting to be an elitist here, but
education and experience with using a range of antibiotics is
imperative to be able to use them not only safely, but effectively.
Antibiotics are not for use in any illness in animals or man, but
there are specific indications for each one. The indiscriminate use
of antibiotics results in generation of antibiotic-resistant strains
of bacteria, which in turn endangers us all. This is not a
cautionary tale for people working in ferret rescues, but also for
veterinarians, who, in pursuit of a quick fix and an easy buck in
many cases, are the most egregious abusers of all.

Antibiotics should not be part of a cocktail for ferrets who are not
doing well. Each has a definite indication, and criteria that should
be met before they are employed. An underweight animal off feed is
not likely to benefit simply because antibiotics were used.
Unfortunately, they are not "magic bullets" in the treatment of
disease, much as we would like them to be. It takes far more
integrity to resist "Doc, just give the ferret a shot" than it does
to succumb to it - the idea of good medicine is to prescribe the
appropriately identified treatment, not just the one conveniently
located within arm's reach.

I am happy to entertain any questions that you, or anyone else on the
list has in the use of antibiotics, with or without a veterinarian's

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
Join the Ferret Health List at

----- Original Message -----
> Well, I don't think that there is enough information at this
point to even guess at a diagnosis, I would make just a couple of
general comments.
> 1) I don't think that you can really make any determination of
the prsence of an insulinoma based on a response to orally
adiminstered sugary compounds. Some animals snap out, some don't - a
blood testis always the best way to tell - properly one, it takes all
of the
> guesswork out of interpreting clinical signs or response to
> manipulation.
> 2) The administration of antibiotics on an empiric basis to
animals that are not doing well (especially those with normal temps)
may prevent a proper diagnosis from ever being made. They may mask
low-grade bacterial infections, prevent bacterial cultures from ever
being positive, may result in mild improvement in clinical signs only
to relapse over several days, or in some cases, result in clinical
signs, themselves. (Amoxicillin is fairly safe overall, although
about 10% of animals receiving it will go off their food.)In general,
antibiotics are only good against bacteria, and should only be
employed when a bacterial infection is diagnosed.
> While it is difficult to be in a rescue without immediate access
to a veterinarian, I generally advocate caution in the utilization of
antibiotics as part of a first line therapy. SQ fluids, and a bland
diet are often sufficient to maintain an animal until appropriate
diagnosis can be made.
> With kindest regards,
> Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP