Message Number: FHL8695 | New FHL Archives Search
From: "utcouple7"
Date: 2009-04-19 16:47:40 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] Ferret Liver Problems


My fianc=E9e and I have had two male ferrets that came from the same bunch,=
perhaps even the same litter, for about 4 years now. They are both Marshal=
l ferrets and were born around Nov 7th, 2004. Our two ferrets are Mousey an=
d Snowball. Both have had relatively good health so far. Last fall Mousey n=
eeded to get his left adrenal gland removed, and has been doing well since =
with some sling symptoms returning recently. However the main reason for th=
is post is Snowball, he is not doing well at the moment and I would like to=
hear some input from other who might have been in the same situation. A qu=
ick background of Snowball's problem: One time when cleaning the cage about=
a month ago where they are kept together, we thought we saw a small bit of=
what looked like blood in one of the stools, so we separated them and watc=
hed them closely but noticed no further problems. Then a few weeks ago we n=
oticed Snowball seemed to be having loose but not liquid stool, we didn't r=
eally think much of it. Things again seemed to return to normal. Then on la=
st Wed night Snowball must have thrown up a few times, but it was not the n=
ormal colored tan vomit as we have seen in the past with our ferrets, it wa=
s very dark, almost black and seemed to be quite thick. Also it seemed that=
he had lost some weight over the last week or two at an abnormal rate. Thi=
s concerned us greatly so we made an appointment for the vet. As a side not=
e, this last winter, Snowball never really put on the wait like Mousey did =
for the winter or really get a thicker winter coat, we thought this had mor=
e to do with Mousey's recent surgery and that he was one that was more abno=
rmal. The next day when cleaning his cage he went to the bathroom in the li=
ttle portable cage and his stool was almost completely liquid and berry red=
in color, he had no colored treats or anything recently so I am assuming t=
hat it was a fair bit of blood. Aside from these symptoms, his behavior has=
remained completely normal.

We went for the appointment at the vet the next day. Immediately the vet sa=
w that he looked jaundiced, Snowball has a Champagne coat and we have incan=
descent lighting so I really never noticed what the vet showed me as far as=
his mucous membranes being more yellow than pink, it was quite apparent in=
the fluorescent lighting. The vet immediately suspected that there are lik=
ely problems with the liver and that the yellow color is from a build up of=
bilirubins in the blood which gives the yellow appearance. Also upon palpa=
ting the liver he felt a small mass in or near the liver, though he did not=
say that it was enlarged or anything like that. It was decided to check Sn=
owball in for the night and run a complete blood workup and xrays. The resu=
lts the next day were not great unfortunately. They are attached, but the m=
ain areas of concern were the ALT (alanine aminotransferase) which was grea=
ter than the machine could read, so above 2000, when the normal range is 82=
-289. Also the TBIL (Total Bilirubins) was at 3.9 with the normal values be=
ing 0.0-0.8. At this point the Vet suggested keeping him on fluids over the=
weekend to see if things might improve on their own, and also put Snowball=
on antibiotics as a precautionary measure. He felt that the best course of=
action would be to do an ultrasound guided liver biopsy to see if the prob=
lem with the liver could be cancer. He also mentioned another possible prob=
lem could be a clogging of the bile duct. I have spent quite a few hours se=
arching the net looking for info on ferret liver problems, but have not fou=
nd much information at all. Clearly the biopsy will give a more definitive =
answer as to the problem but I was hoping that someone might be able to int=
erpret the bloodwork more to get some more information out of it. I was won=
dering if any of you might have had similar problems with your ferrets, and=
might be able to shed some light on the situation as to some possible caus=
es and treatments. Any information would be much appreciated.

Here are the lab results:

In text format:
"*" Indicates an abnormality

Comprehensive Diagnostic
ALB 2.4 2.3-4.8 G/DL
ALP 534 31-888 U/L
*ALT >2000 82-289 U/L
AMY 12 8-93 U/L
*TBIL 3.9 0.0-0.8 MG/DL
BUN 28 12-43 MG/DL
*CA 7.7 8.6-10.5 MG/DL
PHOS 4.7 3.0-13.8 MG/DL
CRE 0.8 0.3-1.5 MG/DL
GLU 82 59-214 MG/DL
NA+ 141 140-159 MMOL/L
K+ 4.3 4.1-6.0 MMOL/L
*TP 3.9 4.6-8.1 G/DL
GLOB 1.5 1.3-4.1 G/DL

WBC 2.62 2-10
*LYM 0.14 0.4-6.5
MON 0.34 0.1-0.7
NEU 2.15 0.8-4.5
*LY% 5.2 27-80
*MO% 12.8 0-10
*NE% 82.0 16-70
*RBC 3.87 7.8-13
*HGB 62 124-187
*HCT 18.63 36-56
*MCV 48 40-48
MCH 16.1 13.5-16.5
MCHC 335 321-355
RDWc 19.4
PLT 382 96-776
PCT 0.31
MPV 8.2
PDWc 36.6

And a few links about ferret blood work that I found:

Again any insight would be welcomed,



Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> Your email settings:
Individual Email | Traditional

<*> To change settings online go to:
(Yahoo! ID required)

<*> To change settings via email:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to: