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Pred Use In Ferret With Lymphoma

Some pros and cons of using prednisone for an older ferret suffering from lymphoma.

Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: April 30, 2014, 4 a.m. EDT

ferret by ball
Ferret Zoe/© Courtesy Jerry Ross
Healthy ferrets are bright-eyed and active If a medication makes your ferret act abnormally, discuss this with your veterinarian.

Q: The veterinarian says my 6-year-old, female ferret has lymphoma. She won’t eat and has been on prednisolone for five weeks, 0.5 mg twice daily. She probably had lymphoma for several months. It is very stressful for her to be force-fed and painful for her to go poo. She whimpers with each push. She has not been eating for a few days at least. She has lost weight and is weak. She can still go up stairs. It’s killing me watching this, but I think it’s too soon to say goodbye. I think pred has given her an ulcer. Can I stop giving her pred? Some say no, but she really resists it when at first she would eat it from a spoon. I took her off pred yesterday. Very stressful for her. She is getting weaker each day. I don't think she's in pain except when pooing. I also think she may pass any day.

A: If you feel your ferret needs to come off of her prescribed prednisone, only you and your veterinarian can make that decision. The more important question is this: do you believe your ferret has a good quality of life? Prednisone is a very good medication for lymphoma, but it does not work in all cases. We cannot predict when it will work and when it will not.

If you have given the medication and the results cause your ferret to be miserable, have a conversation with your vet about your ferret’s quality of life. Although we all hate to give up when treating our patients, sometimes, we cannot cure disease. And sometimes, our treatments can be worse than the disease itself.

You may be in that horrible state in which your ferret has a disease that we are not able to cure and the only medication available is making your ferret sicker. This is not an easy conversation for you to have, and I know it is an even more difficult conversation for your vet to have because vets do everything possible to give our patients the best quality of life possible. Please talk to your veterinarian to best help your ferret.

Like this article? Check out:
Ferret Disease: Lymphosarcoma, click here>>
Tips For Finding The Right Veterinarian For Your Small Animal Pet, click here>>

See all veterinary Q&A about ferrets, click here>>
See all ferret health articles, click here>>
See veterinary Q&A for all small animal pets, click here>>

Posted: April 30, 2014, 4 a.m. EDT


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Reader Comments
I gave my ferret Essiac tea for his lymphoma. When he got to the point that he had insolomnia then I gave him the pred. Jewel lived almost 3 years after his diagnosis of lymphoma
Cheryl Clark, Riverside, MO
Posted: 5/15/2014 11:53:15 AM
I agree. I have had a few ferrets on pred and usually it works well at first and then it is a turn for the
worse. I have learned about quality of life and have learned when it is time to say goodbye
Julie, Hamden, CT
Posted: 5/13/2014 5:24:30 PM
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