Common diseases of ferrets (Proceedings)

Aug 01, 2010

Very common in ferrets
Tumor of the beta cells in the pancreas that secrete excessive levels of insulin
Results in hypoglycemic episodes
      • Weakness
      • Lethargy
      • Salivation
      • Pawing at mouth
      • Seizures
      • Difficult to awaken from naps*
Generally malignant with metastasis to the liver, spleen, and other tissues
Presumptive diagnosis based on blood glucose level (<70mg/dl)
More than 1 test: non-fasted and then 4-6 hours fasted
Insulin levels can help to distinguish insulinoma from other causes of hypoglycemia
Definitive diagnosis based on histopathology of biopsy samples taken at exploratory laporatomy

      • Debulk extensive tumor
      • "shell-out" suspicious nodules
      • Pancreatic lobectomy
      • Post-op pancreatitis is rare

      • Dietary management
           o High protein
           o High fat
           o Frequent feedings
           o High sugar material on hand and to only be used in a hypoglycemic crisis
      • Chromium Picolinate may help in regulating glucose levels
           o Found in Brewer's yeast
           o 1/8 – 1/4 tsp per ferret 1-2 times per day
      • Prednisolone
           o Promotes gluconeogenesis by inhibiting glucose uptake by tissues
           o Raspberry flavored
           o Dose ranges: 0.1mg/kg – 4 mg/kg SID to BID
           o Start low then raise as needed to maintain adequate glucose levels
      • Diazoxide
           o Inhibits insulin release and reduces cellular uptake of glucose
           o Used alone or in conjunction with Prednisolone
           o Dose : 5-10 mg/kg BID

While insulinomas are rarely cured, most affected ferrets can be reasonably controlled and will often live months to years following diagnosis