Treating Ferret Adrenal Disease: The Facts About SUPRELORIN® F (deslorelin acetate) Implant
Ferret owners are well aware of the fact that adrenal disease is common in American ferrets, often by three years old (although the disease can occur at any age). Typically, adrenocortical disease (ACD) is a side effect of spaying or neutering before six months of age, a common practice with pet ferrets in the US.
A result of early spaying or neutering
Here’s why: the adrenal glands take over the function of reproductive hormone production and become hyperactive. Over time, one or both adrenal glands may become hyperplastic (enlarge with normal cells) or neoplastic (enlarge with cancer cells). Approximately 75% of the time the neoplastic form of ACD is benign (not spread to other areas of the body). Any form of ACD, however, can severely impact a ferret’s quality of life.
Signs of ACD in ferrets
Clinical signs of adrenal gland cortical disease include hair loss generally expanding from the main part of the body toward the extremities. Hair loss occurs in more than 90% of ferrets with adrenal gland disease. Other signs include swelling of the vulva in females and difficulty urinating or urinary tract obstruction in males; itchy, crusty skin; sexual aggression; and lethargy. ACD can also suppress bone marrow, a potentially life threatening problem.
Surgically removing adrenal glands is one option for management of ACD. However, the adrenal glands perform other important functions in the body, so their removal can cause additional problems. Also, this procedure is difficult and risky because the adrenal glands sit next to the vena cava (the largest vein in the body), the aorta (the largest artery in the body), and blood vessels to the kidneys, and both adrenal glands are in a space just 1.5” square. Depending on the age and overall health of the ferret, its owner may, in consultation with their veterinarian, consider the risk of surgery to outweigh its benefits.
While several medical options, including tablets, compounded oral suspensions, and regular injections are available, only one — SUPRELORIN® F (deslorelin acetate) Implant — has been studied and is specifically indicated for use in ferrets. None of the medical treatments will cure ACD, but the SUPRELORIN F Implant blocks the excessive hormone release caused by adrenal disease, greatly reducing clinical signs in the vast majority of cases.
The benefits of the SUPRELORIN F Implant
In research studies, the most common signs of ACD decreased quickly after implantation with SUPRELORIN F Implant. The dosage (4.7 mg) was effective for up to one year. 1-4
The SUPRELORIN F Implant is a safe and effective alternative to surgery for management of ACD in ferrets.
Administering the SUPRELORIN F Implant
The veterinarian inserts the implant under the ferret’s skin using a procedure similar to the microchipping process for pets. However, the SUPRELORIN F Implant is not permanent; it releases medication over the course of the year and eventually dissolves. Your veterinarian should be consulted to determine an appropriate frequency for examination of your ferret to ensure the medication is still working properly. There may be other tests or blood work needed to help in this clinical evaluation.
The SUPRELORIN F Implant is available in the United States only through Virbac and is sold only to veterinarians.
Important safety information
Do not use in animals intended for breeding. The safe use of this product has not been evaluated in pregnant or lactating ferrets. Do not use this product in ferrets with known hypersensitivity to deslorelin acetate or other synthetic hormones. Treated ferrets may exhibit signs of soreness and swelling at the implantation site, which should resolve over one or two weeks. Other reported side effects include: weight gain, lethargy and failure to respond to therapy. DO NOT HANDLE THIS PRODUCT IF YOU ARE PREGNANT OR NURSING OR SUSPECT YOU MAY BE PREGNANT. Accidental administration may lead to a disruption of the menstrual cycle. Refer to the package insert for complete product information.
To report suspected adverse drug events, please call Virbac at 1-855-647-3747.
NOT APPROVED BY FDA—Legally marketed as an FDA Indexed Product. Extra-label use is prohibited. This product must not be used in animals intended for use as food for humans or other animals.
1Literature on file, Virbac Animal Health.
2Wagner RA, Piché CA, Jöchle W, Oliver JW. Clinical and endocrine responses to treatment with deslorelin acetate implants in ferrets with adrenocortical disease. Am J Vet Res. 2005;66(5):910–914.
3Shoemaker NJ. Everything you wanted to know about adrenal disease in ferrets. In: Proceeding of the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC); January 19–23, 2008; Orlando, FL. Available at:http://www.ivis.org/docarchive/proceedings/navc/2008/sae/675.pdf. Accessed October 17, 2011.
4Wagner RA, Finkler MR, Fecteau KA, Trigg TE. The treatment of adrenocortical disease in ferrets with 4.7 mg deslorelin acetate implants. J Exotic Pet Med. 2009;18(2):146–152.