Message Number: FHL5438 | New FHL Archives Search
From: "merlnich"
Date: 2008-07-07 18:05:36 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] Insulinoma symptoms don't seem typical

I'm hoping I can get some help to better understand what my ferret, Fiona, is
experiencing. In November of 2007 I noticed her being ataxic in her back legs and
beginning to have trouble eating. She had an appetite but seemed to be "unable" to pick
food up from the dish and manipulate it into her mouth. I feed her Nature's Variety frozen
raw food that is grain free. At that time I was working for a small animal and exotic vet
and we did blood work on her that showed a glucose of 41. Her liver and kidney values
were normal and she was ever so slightly anemic. At that time I was also taking my
animals to a very holistic vet that used homeopathy and I wanted to try and treat Fiona
holistically and avoid surgery if possible. I eventually was offered a job with the holistic
vet, which I took. There are a couple of concerns I have regarding how I have opted to treat
Fiona since. One is that Fiona's symptoms of insulinoma changed in ways that have me
confused. She originally would go into the stupor and I could give her sugar on her gums
or SQ glucose that would eventually pull her out of the stupor. But then she started to go
from being fine while eating and the process of eating would put her into a stupor. So I
would give her glucose 5 minutes prior to eating to help prevent this, which helped for a
little while. I do not give the glucose any more because it does not seem to make a
difference at mealtime. I should mention that ever since November I hand feed her twice
daily so I know that she is eating and how much she is eating. Her appetite has always
remained very good. She just can't figure out how to eat by herself. At this point in time
any activity after about 5 minutes will cause Fiona to go into a stupor. I understand that
activity requires the cells to need glucose and that her blood sugar levels will drop. What I
don't understand is that eating, too, causes her to go into a stupor. It seems to me that I
would expect her best time to be shortly after eating when the blood sugar level would be
more elevated. Fiona's schedule is that I wake her up and this is her best time. I would
think this would possibly be her worst time having been without eating and that her blood
sugar would be low. She eats, then goes in and out of a stupor for about 30 minutes until
she settles down to sleep. She sleeps very comfortably and then we repeat feeding in the
evening. This has been her pattern since March.

The other concern I have is that I have put Fiona at risk by choosing to follow the advice of
the holistic vet. I no longer work there and quit quite soon after starting because I
realized that even though well intentioned for the animals this doctor was not dispensing
sound advice. I am hoping to treat Fiona in a combination of traditional and holistic
medicine. The holistic vet did not discuss surgery with me as an option and never used
medicines such as Pred. He used homeopathy for about 99% of his practice. Fiona also
had two seizures in March. One appeared as a classic inner ear episode. The other
appeared as a classic seizure. The holistic vet treated her with homeopathy and did not
suggest anything else. He told me that he wondered if there even was an insulinoma or
whether this was something completely different, possibly neurological. He also did not
do any blood work. So I have been confused as to whether Fiona even was experiencing
insulinoma issues. I am very concerned that I have let Fiona lose time of treatment that
could help her while I was following this advice. I was simply scared at the idea of surgery
because she is an older ferret. I adopted her in October of 2004 where she had been
abandoned in the front yard of a young man who had been evicted. He left her in her
cage outside with kitten kibble. I don't know how old she was then but she was an adult.

My original exotic vet is on vacation this week and I am going to take Fiona to him next
week for a full workup and see what he suggests. I would be very grateful to hear other's
experiencing regarding surgery on older ferrets. I would also love to hear from any
veterinarians willing to respond regarding Fiona's current stupor patterns and how it
relates to her sugar metabolism. I have been reading through the archives for the last
couple of days. Thanks so much for your time.


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