Message Number: YG4704 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-06-19 23:41:00 UTC
Subject: Re: 4 month old ferret with heart problem

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., rumtum99@s... wrote:
> I have posted a couple of times about my ferret Mikey without a
> response, but maybe that was just as well as I was focusing on a
> bladder infection which now seems to be the least of Mikey's
> I also was confused about which of his heart rates was the one
> was the problem.
> When the infection was discovered 2 weeks ago my vet was hoping
> was why Mikey's heart did not sound right (his tonsils and spleen
> were also enlarged at the time, but have since come down. He also
> had a lowgrade fever). A culture was sent and the infction proved
> be sensitive to clavamox. Last week my vet listened to his heart
> time measured it at 240 (which if I understand is normal for a
> ferret) then again at 170.
> Yesterday he was playing with my cats and dog, I was not surprised
> that he was tired, but how he exhibited it. He propped himself up
> one arm in the middle of the floor with his sides heaving. Off we
> went to the vet again. His heart was 150. An EKG and x-rays were
> taken. Mikey is scheduled for an ultrasound on wednesday.
> My questions are:
> 1. How serious is a slow heart rate?
> 2. Is there a chance that he might outgrow
> 3. What might cause this or would it be a

Dear Stephanie:

The heart rate is indeed slow, but I generally would reserve comment
until all of the tests are in. With a heart rate of 150 and exercise
intolerance, I would expect there to be other significant changes in
the EKG or the X-rays. If the heart rate is pathologically slow,
then I would expect some marked EKG changes to account for it, such
as a heart block or some electrical disturbance that would account
for the dropping of 1 of every three beats. Cardiomyopathy, which
can attack the very young, generally shows some radiographic signs
which the X-ray would pick up in an exercise-intolerant animal -
fluid in the chest, an enlarged heart, etc. The ultrasound may show
something along these lines if a plain thoracic film does not.

If the value of 150bpm is valid, then there should be other signs to
corroborate the diagnosis of heart disease. Without such signs, the
HR would have to be considered a low normal for this animal.

Another condition that certainly occurred to me, as this animal is
young and exercise intolerant, would be a case of juvenile lymphoma.
In young animals, this disease manifests as masses in the chest,
which may compress the lungs over time, as well as an enlarged spleen
and liver. You may want to discuss this possibility with your vet
and find out why it is not currently in the differential list.

With kindest regards,

Bruce Williams, DVM