Message Number: SG16375 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Caitlyn Martin
Date: 2006-01-09 20:05:45 UTC
Subject: Re: [ferrethealth] Lymphoma (was Big Belly)

Hi, Jen, and everyone else,

You've asked some difficult questions.

--Will treatment help?

I can't answer if you go with chemotherapy. All my
ferrets who have contracted lymphoma have been older
and some have had the disease detected far too late
for chemo to have any realistic possibility of
success. The net result is that, in consultation with
our vet, we have decided against chemo in each case
with my ferrets.

In the case of pediapred/prednisolone, yes, it
definitely seems to help some ferrets feel better and
in some cases also slows the progress of the disease.
Some ferrets cannot tolerate high doses of
prednisolone (my Nyssa and Podo are/were in this
category) and in those cases an injectable cortisol
can be used in addition. For Nyssa we use depo medrol
with good results. It is time release and each
injection lasts about three months for her.

In the case of stomach medication it can help to
control diarrhea where lymphoma has invaded the GI
tract. Some can also be use to coat the stomach and
prevent ulcers which can be a nasty side effect of the

For a ferret who experiences pain at times torbugesic
can be given in a small dosage sufficient to relieve
pain without doping up the ferret. Nyssa needs this
maybe once or twice a month. She is always more
active and obviously feeling better after being given
torb on a bad day. Torbugesic can be given as an
injection or orally.

Lymphoma is cancer and cachexia (cancer related weight
loss) is to be expected. You may want to supplement
your ferret's diet with high quality, high calorie
food. We use Bob Church's Chicken Gravy and also add
calories with Ferretvite as a treat. After nearly 14
months Nyssa is very thin but has a voracious appetite
and loves the high cal stuff, especially the
Ferretvite. I am convinced that keeping her calorie
count up and doing so as much as possible with healthy
foods has helped extend her quantity and quality of
life. She is absolutely spoiled rotten to her these
are all special treats.

--How long does a ferret live with lymphoma?

That depends on how rapidly the disease progresses and
what parts of the body it invades. I've had ferrets
live for a week with the disease. I think that's all
we got with Ker Avon after it invaded his spinal
column. Nyssa, OTOH, is closing in on 14 months and
she still has a very good quality of life most of the
time. To be fair, though, Nyssa is only the second
ferret out of seven of mine who've contracted lymphoma
who has lived more than six months. Per our vet in
Ohio average life expectancy after diagnosis is just
three months.

I wish I had better answers for you.

The usual disclaimer applies: I am not a vet, just a
ferret owner who has had way too much experience with

All the best,
Caity and the fantastic four

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