Message Number: YG7228 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Regina Harrison
Date: 2001-09-12 13:05:00 UTC
Subject: An observation about ulcers (kinda long)

Yesterday I learned that a ferret with an ulcer may not exhibit all the
signs of an ulcer at once. I've been on mailing lists for years and
consider myself a fairly well-informed ferret owner, but when you think of a
set of symptoms, you think of them all being present at more or less the
same time, and that's not always the case. So I thought I'd share my
experience. In Amelia's case:

three weeks ago: one day she exhibited vomiting behavior, though nothing
came up. I gave her vasoline and it seemed to stop the behavior, which I
haven't seen repeated since.

two weeks ago: vet notices slight grinding pattern on Amelia's teeth during
regular checkup. I hadn't observed her grinding teeth, so we agree that I
will keep a close eye on this. Amelia's appetite has been and continues to
be hearty; in fact, she's on the pudgy side. (we increase prednisone dosage
at this time since her BG was in the 50s)

Monday morning: I notice that the food dish I filled Sunday night hasn't
been touched. I had just opened a new bag of food, so I thought perhaps
there was some small change in the food; the kibble shape looked different
to me. Amelia exhibits lots of energy throughout the day, actually a pretty
high level for her as a nearly seven-year-old with insulinoma. I figure
she's eating stashes of food; there's some normal looking although small
stool next to the litterbox.

Monday evening: food dish is still untouched, but Amelia is still high
energy, and enthusastic as usual about her pred and ferretone.

Tuesday morning: I go get a different brand of food. She eats a couple of
pieces of it, so I think perhaps the food was the problem. I do see a
little tooth grinding, but it was after I'd offered her wet Iams kitten
food, which she thinks is poison.

Tuesday afternoon: there's chocolate-pudding type diarrhea next to the
litterbox, and I can tell something's just not right, so off to the
Emergency Room we go. She starts crashing alarmingly while we are at the
vet's, so she goes into the critical care unit for IV treatment. She has
insulinoma, and at this point I'm not sure she's eaten in many, many hours.
When I return home I clean up diarrhea, and notice that it has dried out to
that black, tarry appearance.

Diagnosis: ulcer, and as I write this she's still on supportive care. She's
always been tough, and if they can give her body enough of a jump start, she
and I can take it from there. Obviously with everything that is going on
right now (my parents are stranded across the country, luckily they have
relatives to stay with), I am very scared but trying to be brave about this.

The moral of my rather lengthy story is as a result of my experience, I will
look at my ferret's health as a big picture, rather than a daily snapshot.
If she had the vomiting behavior, the tooth grinding, the loss of appetite,
and the diarrhea all at once, I would have recognized the problem much
sooner. But because enough time went by between each of these symptoms, I
didn't "see" that there was something wrong when you added them all up. It
was easy to dismiss the vomiting incident as some hair in the back of her
throat, especially since it only happened the once and cleared up after I
gave her the vasoline (I'm guessing that coated her stomach and made her
feel better). So I didn't really think of it in conjunction with the tooth
wear. Her appetite was good up until the day before yesterday, so I thought
that ruled out anything really serious being wrong. I wish I'd thought to
see these things as a whole, especially given that pred is an
immunosupressant. Learn from my experience...

(all my heart goes out, frankly, to everyone. we all need compassion)

Regina Harrison regina_z@h... or regina@c...

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