Message Number: YG4700 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Mike Janke
Date: 2001-06-19 18:59:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Questions About Ferret Cancer

Sounds like Snowball might be hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) caused
by insulinoma (tumors of the pancreas). If your vet ran blood tests,
blood glucose was probably one of the values obtained. Find out what
that was, and if it was 70mg/dl or below, she might very well have
insulinoma. By the way, in Canada you may get a blood glucose
reading using a different scale. mmol/L instead of mg/dL. In that
case, a 70 mg/dl reading would be the same as 3.8 mmol/L.

One of the things my Beasley does in his rare episodes of low blood
glucose is to gag just like you describe. Hind leg weakness is a
common finding with a lot of illnesses in ferrets, but it's
definitely one that presents with hypoglycemia. They'll often
stagger, or appear drunk or dizzy, stare off into the distance,
hypersalivate, etc., etc. It all depends on the severity of the

I don't think at this point I would have the vet go into Snowball
just to poke around if she doesn't know what she's looking for. Find
out what her blood glucose was and lets go from there. There could
very well be something totally different than insulinoma occuring,
but there's just not enough info at the moment to determine what.


--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "Beverly" <poetica@i...> wrote:
> 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
> do, so I'm hoping someone on this list can help me.
> Snowball, a beautiful albino, is between 6 and & 7 (her exact age
> unknown). She was a breeder before being spayed and adopted.
> 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
> of being caged for long periods of time as a breeder.)
> We've had Snowball and our other ferrets, Fisher, for 3 years.
> we adopted them from their previous owner, they were both in bad
> shape
> - they hardly got any excersize, their skin was flaky, they were
> underweight, and their fur was coarse. When we brought them home,
> 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
> at first, though we did certainly make note of it. It was gradual
> and
> she is getting older. However, a few months ago we noticed that
> had started what looked like dry heaves. She never puked up
> anything,
> but she seemed to be gagging. After assuring ourselves that she
> hadn't swallowed anything (and giving her furball treatment just to
> be
> 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
> speaker and after it was removed, she seemed to be getting better
> 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
> She would be up for a few minutes, eat some treats and be fine.
> 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
> that she had felt it was too soft during the physical examination.
> (Snowball, however, has been having regular bowel movements of
> color and consistancy.) The doctor recommended exploritory surgery
> which would 1) of course cost a lot, 2) might not find anything,
> 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
> 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
> 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
> my tuition money painstakingly saved over months would be what paid
> for it. However, we would do anything to make her feel better IF
> knew that it wasn't in vain.
> So, does anyone have any experience with anything like this? Is
> there
> any hope of making her better? Any suggestions on what we should do
> or
> how we can at least make her more comfortable? We love her very
> 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
> of her perhaps short life torturing her with medical treatments
> 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
> appreciated!
> Beverly
> poetica@i...