Ferrets are rising in popularity among pet owners in recent years. Ferrets are very good at hiding illness; therefore they will often present as an emergency due to acute or chronic illnesses. The goal of this blog is to outline common signs and symptoms that ferrets can present with.
Is My Ferret Sick?
The first common diagnostic finding of an emergently sick ferret is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Common clinical signs of a hypoglycemic ferret are weakness, exercise intolerance, teeth grinding (indicating nausea), drooling, collapse, or seizures. The hypoglycemia is usually caused by a chronic condition known as an Insulinoma.
Insulinoma is a tumor of the pancreas that causes too much insulin to be produced. Insulin decrease the level of glucose in the blood, which results in the clinical signs listed above. If you notice your ferret exhibiting any of these signs, they should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
A second emergency condition common in ferrets is partial or complete urinary obstruction. Complete or partial urinary obstruction is often secondary to other conditions resulting in an enlarged prostate. Clinical signs you may see include straining to urinate, urinating more frequently, or not urinating at all. Symptoms of the underlying disease process include itching or hair loss. Initial treatment involves relieving the urinary obstruction. Medical therapy is usually required for the underlying disease process.
Ferrets with vomiting or diarrhea can lead to dehydration very quickly and should, therefore, be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. There are several causes of vomiting or diarrhea, ranging from dietary indiscretion, infection, inflammation, or cancer. Differentiating the cause will be based on clinical history, chronicity, fecal examination, bloodwork, and x-rays.
If you feel your ferret may be sick or would like your ferret to be examed, please contact Brook-Falls Veterinary Hospital & Exotic Care, Inc. to set up an appoint.