Common diseases of ferrets (Proceedings)


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