Message Number: FHL12318 | New FHL Archives Search
From: "Bonnie"
Date: 2010-10-08 09:04:21 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] Intestinal atrophy?

I will apologize in advance for the long story, but I am looking for answers and hope someone can help.

Mitzi was a 27 month old spayed female Ruby Fur Farms ferret, rescued from a horrid feed store in Arizona. UTD on vacs, ADV negative. Last Friday morning she was found lying on the cage bottom, limp and lethargic, T-98.5, BG 95. She was rushed to the vet, put on IV w/dextrose for 6 hours and a barium study was done. She was also given Reglan by injection. Bloodwork was normal across the board except for indicators of mild dehydration.

The evening prior to this, Mitzi was her normal, bouncing off the wall self. She had always been very hyperactive and playful.

After an hour, the barium was still within the stomach. At an hour and a half, the barium finally moved out of the stomach. It took over two hours for the barium to finally reach the colon. No visible blockage on radiograph. Mitzi was discharged with take home meds, Bioxin and three days worth of Reglan. It was not until early the next morning that Mitzi produced the usual technicolor barium poop with a very small amount of hair. She began eating very well on her own again and by Saturday night was back to her old self. The Reglan was discontinued on Monday.

Tuesday night, Mitzi was again found lying limp and lethargic. She was segregated, given a dose of Reglan and kept warm til morning. During the night she produced what appeared to be a normal poop however, by morning she seemed to be in pain, clenching her jaw, wincing and had a "bottlebrush" tail. Wednesday morning she was returned to the vet where another barium study was done. This time, the barium never left the stomach. Mitzi underwent surgery and the contents of her stomach were surgically emptied. Only the soup she ate earlier that morning and barium were in the stomach. There was no movement of the intestines at all. Her intestines just stopped functioning completely. Mitzi never recovered from the surgery, she went into a coma and never began breathing on her own.

We live in a very rural area and our shelter vet has always been very open to learning whatever she can to help the ferrets. I asked her to open Mitzi back up post mortem to see if she could find anything else significant, such as a stricture. Mitzi's organs and lymph nodes all appeared normal, there were no tumors or strictures found. No biopsies were taken.

I buried my sweet girl today with no answers as to what could have caused this to happen. Is it possible (yeah, I know, anything is possible) that Mitzi's intestines could simply stop functioning as a result of the small hairball four days earlier? (I have seen ferrets pass much more hair than what came out of Mitzi) Has anyone heard of this happening in ferrets, or any other companion animal for that matter?

Thank you.
Bonnie Tormohlen
Northern Arizona Ferret Alliance & Rescue/Director

[Was there a chance to check the Vagus Nerve? That very important nerve controls a range of functions at different points along its path, everything from larynx movement to diaphragm use to intestinal motility. A tumor or illness at the wrong place along the Vagus could account for no motility. That is why Chagras Disease often involves heart damage due to damage to the Vagus Nerve and also why so many who have it die from lack of intestinal motility.

-- Moderator]


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