From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-07-08 19:43:00 UTC
Subject: Re: my ferret died...I need major advice
--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "Lisa Shortley" <shortleylj@m...>
> --- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "Bruce Williams, DVM"
> After hours and hours of wracking my brain...I thought about the
> that I fed Nala and everyone else chicken gravy Thursday night.
> chicken gravy consisted of a whole ground chicken, and amongst
> things, egg shells. I believe that the white chips were most
> the undigested egg shells. Is this possible?
I believe that it is possible. Egg shells are not digestible, and if
her stomach was not emptying properly, may have been the granular
material seen in the contents. This is probably not a very popular
question, but were the egg and the chicken cooked or raw?
> My vet who did the post mortem reported no thickening of the
> wall and no signs of any disturbances aside from the bleeding and
> white flecks throughout her stomach. Her vomit did not have blood
> it, only her bowel movements. Her vomit found in the cage looked
> exactly like duck soup had been spilled. I knew there wasn't duck
> soup in the cage so I knew she had thrown it up.
Thickening of the gastric wall is an uncommon finding, and would
generally only be seen with gastric lymphoma. Ulcers and atrophic
gastritis generally do not result in any appreciable difference in
thickness from normal.
> Her small intestine was reported to be slightly reddened. I must
> express some relief that lead poisoning is not thought to be the
> problem. I have been so worried about my other nine ferrets and
> the other pets in my house with this being suspected.
The reddening of the surface of the GI tract is a common finding at
necropsy, and usually just due to pooling of blood. It should not
ever be construed as significant.
> Would the ulcers have been seen during her exploratory surgery done
> 3/30? She never showed any signs of being sick and was actually at
> the top of her game these last several months. Her breath never
> smelled bad, she ate like a horse, and she played like a kit -
Ulcers can develop in as little as 24 hours - ther is no reason to
think that they would have been present for three months. They might
have been there, but without a reason to open the stomach and look,
they would have gone unnoticed. Remember, ulcers affect the inside
of the stomach, so the outside looks perfectly normal.
> Do you think I will ever get an answer as to what caused this?
> about the sandy blood that was taken from her stomach while she was
> still alive? I should have the pathology report on Monday from
> It did not come in from the lab today as we had hoped. The samples
> have not been sent out yet. My vet is in the process of trying to
> speak with the proper person to send the
Honestly, you have circumstantial evidence that an ulcer was a very
important factor in the demise of this animal.. Also honestly, if
the post consisted of a single section of stomach and contents, it is
not likely that you will obtain the answers you seek.
Unfortuntely, proper necropsies require a sampling of all organs.
Too many vets only submit a single organ when looking for a cause of
death. Determining the cause of death is often like a puzzle,
requiring a fit of many pieces to get the final answer. If there was
no obvious disease in the stomach wall, and it was the only tissue
submitted, why should one expect to get a cause of death from it
With kindest regards,
Bruce Williams, DVM