Message Number: FHL8769 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Caitlyn Martin
Date: 2009-04-28 18:12:39 UTC
Subject: Re: [ferrethealth] Re: What should I do?

Hi, everyone,

> Like the others said.... sounds like adrenal disease, very common in
> ferrets.

I would not make that assumption until a vet confirms it. It is a
likely cause but by no means the only cause.

> It will need to be treated as male ferrets can develop urinary blocks

Adrenal disease is a tumor growing in the adrenal gland. It can cause
all sorts of issue in male and female ferrets if left untreated. It
needs to be taken care of.

> Lupron can tend to be expensive, so in the
> end surgery would be the cheaper option for you, as long as your ferret is
> a good surgical candidate (under six & otherwise healthy),

I agree with all of this except the "under six" part. As our vet told
us before doing right adrenal surgery on Podo (who was seven and a
half at the time) it really does depend on how strong the ferret is.
There are some who are poor surgical candidates at three. He had done
adrenal surgeries successfully on ferrets as old as nine. Podo came
through that surgery just fine and lived for another two and a half
years. Our Lady Ayeka had successful surgery for both adrenal (left)
and insulinoma at age six.

The longer you wait the worse the disease gets and the weaker your
ferret will be.

> and you are
> able to find a ferret knowledgeable vet expereinced in adrenal surgery. Only
> a ferret knowledgeable vet should perform the surgery on your ferret, and
> you can find a vet recommendation here on the ferret health list.

This is key. In particular ask about how the vet handles right
adrenal surgeries. If the left adrenal gland is affected that is
pretty much a routine surgery for an experienced ferret vet. If the
right is affected it is attached to the vena cava, the main vein from
the heart, and that is a difficult surgery at best. Some vets have a
very high success rate with this surgery and some have just the
opposite. I know of some vets who are good with ferrets but will
simply close and not remove anything when they see a right adrenal
mass. Make sure the vet you deal with can handle anything related to
adrenal disease.

> Ferrets can tend to be expensive pets, they do get ill as they age, so it is
> always a good idea to start putting some cash away for them

Absolutely! A typical ferret will have one major health crisis
requiring surgery in their lifetime. Expect to spend $1000 per ferret
at that time if not more. For Chin Soon (age five and a half) who
just had left adrenal and insulinoma surgery the bill came up to $1500
because of complications. Yes, she's fine now, but you do have to be
ready for the unexpected.

> Melatonin is best used to supliment Lurpon or after surgery to prevent the
> adrenal disease from returning on the other side.

Neither our present vet nor our original vet (now retired) believe
melatonin works. I lived in Wisconsin for a year and obviously used a
different vet. We tried a melatonin implant with Nyssa who was not
able to have surgery. (She was seven and also suffering from
lymphoma.) It did absolutely nothing for her and the adrenal symptoms
progressed. Granted, her system was severely compromised, but none of
the vets around here seem to use melatonin at this point.

Lupron is great for relieving symptoms in some ferrets who can't have
surgery. We went that route with Podo who, at age nine and a half,
wasn't going to have a second adrenal surgery. (He also had
cardiomyopathy at that point so there was no way he could survive
surgery.) His symptoms disappeared and it helped maintain his quality
of life. Having said that, the cost of Lupron eventually exceeds the
cost of surgery.

The only cure for adrenal disease is surgery. The good news is that,
when done by a skilled ferret vet, the success rate for that surgery
can be very high indeed. Two of the three ferrets in my home now have
had adrenal surgeries and are just fine now.

All the best,
Caity and the terrific trio
(Ella, Zephyr, and Chin Soon)


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