Message Number: FHL14679 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Sukie Crandall
Date: 2012-02-05 16:15:17 UTC
Subject: Re: [ferrethealth] Re: Raisin toxicity in ferrets

Yes, accuracy is absolutely essential! Tressie and I both tend to be picky on that score because there are times when it makes all the difference, or even leads to new revelations. That character aspect is something I value in Tressie, and she knows it.

With ferrets there are two behavioral aspects which make knowing how many raisins a ferret has had harder to calculate, and the first is stashing. Ferrets will stash goodies and not only will they come to their own stashes, but they will raid the stashes of others, so in a household of ferrets unless every treat must be eaten in the people's arms there is the risk of one of them deciding to fill up from stashes one day. Ferrets also steal, of course.

Cats are also documented in the formal veterinary literature as having had poisoning from these fruits, too.

BUT: the nuances are unknown. That is partly because the final cause and mechanism are still unknown, partly because multiple species in Carnivora are affected, and partly because individuals might well vary a lot in relation to this vulnerability (i.e. there may be some genetic lines that can tolerate a number of those fruits whereas some others might wind up with acute kidney failure after not many at all). Luckily, acute kidney failure, when caught fast enough, and handled well enough at home and in care, can pretty often be survived by those whose bouts are not too extreme, but the individuals have to cared for much more carefully afterward.

I always wished that the vets who wrote it up for Ferrets Magazine would have done so for a journal, or that one of the other vets encountering in ferrets would have done so, but to date that has not happened, though, it is probably pretty inevitable that it will happen one day since the problem has been encountered in multiple ferrets by multiple vets.

(I was very lucky to wind up working in my twenties, while I was also a student, in an Anatomy Dept where the primatologists would gather to rip apart each others work before publication, and I was invited to take part in those sessions which I greatly enjoyed even despite the cigars smoked around me (a tradition in anatomy because they cover other scents). Being part of a group where you are expected to dig in and find weaknesses in a person's work to tackle is liberating from both sides; it teaches people to not attach themselves too tightly to hypotheses (Never, ever treat them like beliefs.), it shows that evidence on any side of a question must be considered when making a choice, and just as importantly it teaches that even mistakes lead to some downright incredible and valuable questions that can result in real progress in an investigation. So, I have no problem with accuracy, and value it, and if I had not gotten so extremely ill all those decades ago with three simultaneous health problems (wedge mastectomy, allergies that almost killed me a few times, and a peripheral neuromuscular illness) that my education had to be cut short I probably never would have wound up with ferrets, so each of life's paths can have its rewards, whether it is from an adjustment, or from being questioned in a constructive way, or from learning from a mistake…)

BTW, it is not just raisins which have caused acute kidney failure. In dogs they have documented that grapes and currants also cause the same problem, and I think there may also be some literature in cats with grapes, too, but check me on that.

Like Tressie I ADORE the work of the toxicologists at the ASPCA. Sadly, some years back they found that they did not get enough contributions (both in information from people and vets calling when poisonings occur, and monetary ones) from ferret people to keep extremely nit-picky and cross-refed records on ferret poisoning situations like they can afford to do for some other species. That does not mean that they are not god because they are excellent; it just means that like anyone else they can only do what they are able to do. I often and strongly recommend their site:
and people should always keep their phone number handy for emergency reference.
Angell Memorial also has a poisoning site, and I recall there was a third service for animal poisonings serving all of North America that opened a few years ago but do not recall details.

Sukie (not a vet)

Recommended ferret health links:
all ferret topics:

"All hail the procrastinators for they shall rule the world tomorrow."
(2010, Steve Crandall)

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