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Two Giant Ferret Paws

Dr. Jerry Murray treats two ferrets with paw trouble.

By Jerry Murray, DVM
Posted: April 6, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT

ferret paws
© Courtesy Jerry Murray, DVM
The tumor on this ferret's paw was too large and involved to remove, so the leg had to be amputated.
ferret paws
© Courtesy Jerry Murray, DVM
The tumor on this ferret's paw hadn't infiltrated the muscles or tendons, so it was removed without having to amputate the leg.

The director of the local ferret shelter contacted me to ask about taking off a big tumor on a ferret’s rear paw. She was concerned that the tumor was so big that the ferret's rear leg may have to be amputated in order to remove the entire tumor.

A few years ago the same shelter director had an owner surrender a ferret with a giant paw. The owner gave a very vague story about the ferret and its enormous paw. The ferret was still active and eating well despite the giant paw. The shelter director was hoping the paw was just infected, and an antibiotic would take care of the problem. Unfortunately the size wasn’t caused by an abscess or infection. The paw was enlarged due to cancer.

There was no way to remove the tumor and save the paw. Thus, it was decided to amputate the leg in order to remove all of the cancer. The ferret made it through the surgery and recovered just fine. It did not take long for the ferret to adjust to only having three legs and get back to normal activity. The pathology report called it a tumor from a nerve sheath (a schwannoma).

The new case had a large, mushroom-shaped growth on the lateral aspect of the paw. It would be a challenge to remove the large tumor and still have enough skin to close the resulting hole. If there was not enough skin, a skin flap or other method of closure could be tried, but there was enough skin to close the incision line.

Fortunately this tumor just involved the skin and was not infiltrating deep into the muscles and tendons of the paw, so amputation of the leg was not needed. The incision healed without any complications, and the little ferret is already back to normal activity level.

See all of Dr. Murray's columns>>

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Two Giant Ferret Paws

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Reader Comments
Hello Cheryl, I'm sorry Pheabee is ill. Try checking our vet directory for a vet LINK another great resource for California is Ferrets Anonymous LINK
Marylou, Irvine, CA
Posted: 10/4/2012 9:37:49 AM
I have a ferret (female) Pheabee and am very worried about her. She has a tumor looking big bump on her back right leg the size of a dime. I live in Rancho Cordova,Ca. and have no idea where to take her to be looked at, plus I'm on a fixed income and need a vet. who would take payments for treatment. Please HELP!! thank you so much
cheryl, Rancho Cordova, CA
Posted: 10/3/2012 1:08:54 PM
My ferret just had surgery and she is six as well. If you consent to preanesthetic blood profile and talk with a ferret knowledgeable vet, a decision can be made in the best interest of the animal. Ferrets do very well using gas inhalant anesthesia such as Sevoflourane. Thanks for the great article Dr. Murray!
Susan, Odessa, TX
Posted: 6/28/2012 12:05:21 AM
my ferret has the lump from the secound picture one on her leg the same as this and now one on her neck exactly the same im really worried i dont know weather chancing it and putting hher under to have them removed ? she is 6 soon
Samantha, ENGLAND
Posted: 5/6/2011 1:55:31 PM
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