Message Number: YG6210 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Alyssa Umsawasdi
Date: 2001-08-08 15:42:00 UTC
Subject: Re: VERY ill ferret..please help!

That sounds similar to what I went through with Simmi, my 5 year old
female. Her inflammatory bowel disease diagnosis was made mid-June,
and she's finally regaining her weight and energy. Her situation was
pretty complicated, though, with a couple of surgeries and lots of
trial and error. Hopefully this will give you some ideas to research
with your vet...

Simmi had her left adrenal gland removed at the beginning of May, and
seemed to be recovering well from that for about a month. After about
3-4 weeks, I noticed that she seemed to be eating less, but her weight
was stable.

I was horrified to come home one night to find evidence that she had
eaten the fuzz off one of her toys. Lots of petromalt, and a trip to
the vet for ultrasound and xray later, she seemed ok. She didn't pass
any more of the material and she was still eating, so the vet wasn't
too concerned at that point. Conveniently, she provided a stool
sample for examination, but the vet didn't find campylobacter or
anything else that seemed unusual. Coincidentally, she continued to
lose fur, and her vulva had not shrunken at all.

Unfortunately for the next week and a half, she continued to lose
weight. Her stools became seedy, she also stopped eating her kibble,
and refused anything she considered to be a treat (Nutrical, etc.).
By that point, we were feeding her Deliver and baby food, but she
would fight us. We decided to schedule her for surgery before her
situation became worse.

They removed a grossly enlarged right adrenal gland (normal in
appearance 6 weeks previously), which turned out to be a complicated
procedure because they actually had to remove part of the vena cava
wall, thus constricting the diameter. The biopsy from the jejunum
gave an IBD diagnosis based on the cellular infiltrates. They also
found a 4mm insulinoma.

After we were able to bring her home (she needed fluids + monitoring
the first 24 hours), she was started on pred (for adrenal + IBD). She
still fought us when we tried to feed her, as weak as she was. We
were hand-feeding 4-5 times/day. And when she did eat, she would paw
at her mouth and gag. Her condition didn't seem to improve, and her
stools would alternate from being seedy to being tarry. She was then
put on flagyl + amoxicillin in case there was Helicobacter
complicating things. Also, based on her electrolyte values, she was
started on Florinef (as a consequence of losing her adrenal glands).
Even with this and an increased pred dosage, she continued to lose
weight, and was down to barely 1 pound, compared to her normal 1.5lbs.

My vet put her on Winstrol (an anabolic steroid) to help her retain
her muscle mass and stimulate her appetite, as well as started her on
watered-down A/D with a pinch of Nupro. At this point, we dropped the
flagyl. She actually did start perking up, but would still fight us
on the feedings and gag or vomit afterwards. She was definitely
eating a lot more, but the stools were still seedy. In the meantime,
my vet did some more research, looking into Imuran, which he had used
successfully with cats, but never used for ferrets before.

We started her on the Imuran about 3 weeks ago. We saw a huge
improvement in her stools after the first several days. Currently,
she's on pred, florinef, Winstrol, Imuran, and amoxi. She goes back
to the vet this week. Since we've started the Winstrol and Imuran,
she's regained about half the weight she's lost. She looks fat
compared to how she looked a few weeks ago (although she could stand
to gain a few ounces). :) Not to mention that she's become a lot more
energetic (which makes medicating her very difficult!), and is
returning to her normal self. Her stools went from being seedy, to
pudding-like, and almost look normal again.

We're still feeding her 4 times/day with the A/D and Nupro, and she
eats willingly. The frequent feeding has probably been the most
important thing, especially since she went so long without digesting
her food well. She'll still sometimes paw at her mouth if we've made
her "soup" too chunky, and holding her up after she eats will distract
her from pawing at her mouth.

Sorry this was so long. It's been a pretty hairy couple of months for
us with her. I hope this helps...