Message Number: YG484 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Dr. Bruce Williams
Date: 2001-03-01 18:27:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Nail Fungus?

Dear Donna:

Thanks for the patience on this one. I did a bit of research in claw
diseases, and although there is nothing specific on ferrets, I did
get a good education on the types of diseases that can affect the

Claw disease is not a common thing - in specialty dermatology
practices, they are less than 2% of cases seen in dogs and cats.

Of course, this is not an easy one to diagnose at this point.
However, a couple of facts and pointed questions may help to point us
in a direction.

I assume from your post that all of the nails are affected. Is this
correct? This helps to eliminate some causes - trauma, spontaneous
bacterial infection arising from a cracked nail, neoplasia, and
common fungal infection. These affect one to two claws, or perhaps
all of the claws on one foot, but not all of the claws.

We can't rule out all fungal or bacterial infections, but for them to
affect all fo the nails, there needs to be a predisposing cause, such
as immunosuppression or diabetes. That would be pretty rare.

There are some miscellaneous causes of deformed, crumbly claws that
probably also should be considered. (The doctor word for this is
onychodystrophy, Brett!)

Senile change - we see this in older dogs and cats - degenerative
changes of the geerminal epithelium at the base or perhaps digestive
imbalances associated with age and subsequent nutritional defects may
contribute to this.

Previous inflammatory disease that has damaged the germinal
epithelium - severe pododermatitis or even autoimmune desisease such
as pemphigus can do this.

There are some specific syndromes in dogs which result in this as
well, which are suspected to have a genetic basis (Rhodesian
ridgeback, dachshunds) - perhaps something like this is going on - it
would be nice to see some other the siblings, but as a rescue, we
probably wont.

It may be interesting to take a look at some of the nail clippings
for fungus just to be on the safe side - I'd like to give it a shot,
if you can provide them in formalin (your vet will have the formalin).

Treatments of the non-bacterial, non-fungal disease is generally
symptomatic - regular clipping to prevent cracking, and some people
have even given gelatin tablets, but success is at best wildly

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM
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--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., dbooras@h... wrote:
> I am attaching a photo of a little one that has ongoing problems
> her nails and paws. Although whatever this is can be somewhat
> controlled, when she has an outbreak like she's having now, it
> permanent damage to her nails and it never totally goes away.
> Not a lot is known about her background as she was passed around
> times before she came to me. Her condition at that time was skin &
> bones, patchy fur, and nails that were thickened, deformed and
> when trimmed. (Trimming her nails is a nightmare as she
> doesn't like her feet touched, and there is no way to know where the
> vein is.) She also refused to eat anything but duck soup which is
> the only thing she will eat.
> I thought at first that her nail condition was because she was kept
in a
> cage with shavings that were wet. I began putting Neosporin on her
> which controlled it for a while. My vet prescribed Conofite lotion
> which also only helps control it. A Bactin/warm water solution only
> helps control it.
> As you can see in the photo, when she is having an outbreak, her
> also looks slightly red where she curls her paws up. Whatever this
> must not be contagious, because she sleeps with two other little
> who have no problems.
> We will be going back to the vet this week and would really
> any knowledge or experience anyone on this list could share as my
> has never treated this condition in a ferret before.
> Thanks,
> Donna