Message Number: YG3325 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Karen Purcell, DVM
Date: 2001-05-07 10:46:00 UTC
Subject: Re: [Ferret-Health-list] itchy, skinny ferret


You wrote:
> Buddy the ferret is acting quite fine (eating, playing, being silly,
> etc, etc) but he started itching more than usual about a month ago.
> I contacted my vet, we determined it was not fleas and he suggested
> childrens Benadryl to see what happened. I tried it and it seemed to
> work a little bit, but I did not want to continue use after about a
> week of time since it didn't seem to be a one time, permanent thing.
> Things did not improve all the much. 2 weeks ago I bathed him, with
> his usual shampoo/conditioner, and a lot of hair came out in the tub,
> not in clumps, just all over. I thought it was unusual and it scared
> me. I researched and read where normally ferrets shed their winter
> coat and it is not unusual to have hair loss. I stopped worrying.
> His hair loss is not in spots or any particular place, but you can
> still pull out hairs with your finger tips real easily. Is spring
> shedding something that goes on for a long period of time?
I've had it continue a month or more in some of my heavy coated

> A few days after the bath, I thought he looked and felt like he had
> lost weight. That was as far I was willing to let things go. I called
> the vet and made an appointment. After being examined, no temp, fecal
> was negative, no ear mites......the vet discovered a very small spot
> on his skin above his left leg close to the chest. This is the area
> where his main scratching seems to be concentrated.
> We talked about mast cell tumors and he said it did not look like
> that yet, but it could be. He gave a small injection of prednisone
> (sp?) and said let's watch him over the weekend and see if that
> helps. It has not. He still is very itchy.
Well, that could still be shedding. Is he actually breaking the
skin over that "spot"? I've used benadryl in the past for mast cell
related itchiness, but only until I could surgically remove the mass.

> Also, he has indeed lost weight, about 2/10ths of a pound. I read
> where weight loss is normal this time of the year as well, but is
> it? He weighed in around 2 pounds at his last check up which was
> about 2 months ago.
Most ferrets lose weight in the spring, certainly 2 of my 4 have
(of course, I have one ferret that never loses weight without a
strict exercise regimen ;-)

> I do not want his quality of life to deteriorate and I feel that this
> itching is making him really uncomfortable and partially to blame as
> to why he is losing weight because he can't sleep real well, and no
> matter what he is doing he has to stop and scratch.
> Anyone that has any suggestions or ideas, or has seen this in their
> pet, please let me know what you think.
Well, I think you should take off that spot to make sure it is not
a mast cell tumor. Also, if he is shedding heavily, he could be
perfectly normal.
Hope this helps,
-Dr. Karen
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