Posted: August 29, 2008, 6 p.m. EDT
Q: I just noticed our big guy ferret, Oz, kind of has a swollen neck — almost like when humans get sick and sometimes get swollen glands. He is eating, getting around and nothing else seems out of the ordinary. He doesn’t have a cold wet nose, it has been dry and more white than pink. Should I be worried and take him in to our vet? I think he may just have a touch of the flu or a cold to bring him down. The two girls have adrenal and are fine. Nothing even like Oz. Oz doesn’t have adrenal or insulinoma, right now anyway. He is about 3 years old.
A: It is not common for ferrets to have a swollen neck. This appearance can be a normal finding or something more serious. It may be that your ferret, since you say he is a big guy, may be putting layers of fat along his neck area. That just means he needs some exercise and a new diet. Or it could be more serious, such as swollen lymph nodes or even a blockage in vessels called lymphatics.
The best way to know what is causing this problem is to visit your veterinarian. A physical examination and some simple tests can help your doctor discover the cause of this problem. I am glad that Oz is a healthy, big ferret. Even if this is a serious problem, it sounds as if you have caught this early. The sooner any disease is treated, the sooner your ferret can get back to being himself.