Message Number: YG4699 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Beverly
Date: 2001-06-19 18:26:00 UTC
Subject: Questions About Ferret Cancer

Hello. My partner and I currently share our home and lives with 2
wonderful ferrets. Unfortunately, our older ferret is sick and the
doctor doesn't seem to know exactly what's wrong with her or what to
do, so I'm hoping someone on this list can help me.

Snowball, a beautiful albino, is between 6 and & 7 (her exact age is
unknown). She was a breeder before being spayed and adopted. Then,
she adopted again before we finally adopted her from her previous
owner. We got as much information as we could about our ferrets's
health history, but it wasn't very much. We know that she had a
severe ear infection which may have caused permanant damage however
she is not on any medication.
(She does, however, like to walk in circles when playing,
particularly around people's legs, which we think might be the result
of being caged for long periods of time as a breeder.)

We've had Snowball and our other ferrets, Fisher, for 3 years. When
we adopted them from their previous owner, they were both in bad
- they hardly got any excersize, their skin was flaky, they were both
underweight, and their fur was coarse. When we brought them home, we
gave them excerise (even talking them for walks when the weather
permits), got a better shampoo, gave them better food and vitamin
treats. We also spoiled them rotten with a livingroom full of toys
they ignore.

Snowball was always as active as Fisher. However, over the past
several months she has become less so. That didn't overly concern us
at first, though we did certainly make note of it. It was gradual
she is getting older. However, a few months ago we noticed that she
had started what looked like dry heaves. She never puked up
but she seemed to be gagging. After assuring ourselves that she
hadn't swallowed anything (and giving her furball treatment just to
safe), we re-checked the area they play for anything that might be
bothering her. We did find a piece of incense that had fallen off a
speaker and after it was removed, she seemed to be getting better and
we thought we had found the problem.

A few weeks ago, however, she started having occassional, short
periods of hind quarter weakness, especially when she first woke up.
She would be up for a few minutes, eat some treats and be fine. She
was also losing weight that could no longer be associated with
seasonal shedding.

We took her to a vet who ran blood tests but said that they were
"inconclusive" though she was sure it was some type of cancer,
probably of the digestive system, particularly the bowels as she said
that she had felt it was too soft during the physical examination.
(Snowball, however, has been having regular bowel movements of normal
color and consistancy.) The doctor recommended exploritory surgery
which would 1) of course cost a lot, 2) might not find anything, and
3) be very dangerous. We've read that ferrets, particularly older
ferrets as weak as Snowball is, do not fair well with surgery. The
doctor also recommended hundreds of dollars of other procedures which
may not find anything (according to her own admittance).

Snowball is dehydrated (which we are now treating with Pedilite).
She's lost a lot of weight and looks so frail. She less active than
she was. We are very worried about her and want to do what is best
for her.

I'm currently going back to college and we're living off one salary
while trying not to take out any student loans. Any extreme costs
would require that I drop out of school for at least one semester and
my tuition money painstakingly saved over months would be what paid
for it. However, we would do anything to make her feel better IF we
knew that it wasn't in vain.

So, does anyone have any experience with anything like this? Is
any hope of making her better? Any suggestions on what we should do
how we can at least make her more comfortable? We love her very much
and would never want her to be in any pain and would pay our last
penny to ensure that she wasn't, but we don't want to waste the rest
of her perhaps short life torturing her with medical treatments that
won't help her, or worse, lose her on an opperating table where we
can't be with her.

If help or information anyone could provide would be greatly