From: Dr. Bruce Williams
Date: 2001-03-02 16:40:00 UTC
Subject: Re: New and Prolapsed Question
Prolapsed rectums are a problem to keep up with, no doubt.
Prolapsed rectums are the result of straining. Although you wouldn't
think it to be logical, but loose stools are more a cause of
prolapsed rectums than hard ones. Only rarely are they the result of
endogenous rectal disease or anal sacs.
Look at it this way - to get the poop out, the rectum contracts to
find something to push against. If it finds normal consistency
stool - whoosh, out it goes. But if the stool is loose or watery, it
just keeps pushing and pushing, and eventually, the attachments get
edematous and loose and stretchy, and it pushes itself out.
Anal sacs serve little useful purpose in animals (thank god humans
don't have them.) What they seem to do is lubricate the anus for the
passage of stool (other than in skunks where they do have a more
useful purpose.) They normally are naturally expressed when a firm
stool passes over them. But if you don't have that firm stool - the
secretions build up. Most impacted glands are in animals with a
history of abnormal defection, and usually diarrhea. I would surmise
that the full anal glands are the result of the loose stools, not the
I am not a big fan of expressing anal sacs in ferrets - they are
small and may rupture compounding the problems. If a ferret has
chronic anal gland problems, then you remove them - you don't keep
crushing them between thumb and forefinger - eventually they will
break down and the secretion will be forced out into the surrounding
tissue. For impacted glands, I recommend either finding and curing
the predisposing cause, or removing them.
ADV as a cause of prolapsed rectum? In a word, no.
If your vet wants cant get a hold on the loose stools and thinks a
biopsy is in order - let's do it all at once - get the rectum, colon,
intestine, whatever in one surgery. It may show the cause of
diarrhea, which would be nice.
While we don't want to use a steroid cream prior to a biopsy, a
gentle emollient like a Tuck's pad or some preparation H, or aloe
vera may help when it is protruding and raw.
With kindest regards,
Bruce H. Williams, DVM
Join the Ferret Health List at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Ferret-
> I'm still struggling with Oliver's prolapsed rectum. His scent
> have been expressed a few times. His stools are not firm. He's
> straining. He'll be two in May. He acts fine except when his
> rectum doesn't go back in and he's very uncomfortable. It seems
> he'll be fine for a few days and then not. I'm checking his little
> bum constantly (Oh, Mom!).
> I've been supplementing his diet with some gravy, or chicken baby
> food, and a little cream because he loses weight if I don't. He
> eating Totally Ferret, but now prefers the cats special food while
> he's out. I do mix both in the cage hoping he'll eat it. I've
> different dry foods to find something he likes better. I've left
> the extra soft foods to see if that is contributing. So far I have
> not been able to put two and two together. I don't know if it's
> different things going on or if it's ADV related. Of course, I've
> been using creams and ointments on him too, but that only helps
> He was at the vets yesterday for observation and he expressed his
> glands again. I have not seen a problem when I checked him last
> and this morning. That still doesn't explain the soft stools. But
> thankfully he's not poofing like he was several weeks ago either
> he first had impacted scent glands.
> My vet is going to take a rectal biopsy first and if the pathology
> report doesn't show anything then he'll go in and biopsy the
> intestines, stomach and colon (if I remember correctly). He said
> rectal tissue felt different (tubular)??? He did run a scope up
> few weeks ago and said everything looked OK from the rear to the
> I'd really appreciate any helpful info or if anyone has experienced
> this before. I'm frustrated because I don't know what to do to
> him any more especially since I have not been through this before.