Posted: October 31, 2008, 11 a.m. EDT
Q: My older ferret had adrenal surgery earlier this year and now has some hair loss and intense itching. I would like her to be more comfortable as she ages. The veterinarian isn't sure what's causing the hair loss and itching. I'm trying melatonin right now, but I'm not sure it's helping (it worked miracles on another younger ferret). Would a blood test help?
A: Unfortunately, it is very common after adrenal gland surgery for the signs of this disease to return. This happens either because the other adrenal gland has now become abnormal or the entire adrenal gland was not removed at surgery and the pieces that remain in your ferret reactivated.
Sadly, there is no guarantee that medication that worked to alleviate some of the signs of adrenal gland disease will work the second time around. If melatonin is not working, ask your doctor to try one of the many other products available to stop the signs of this disease from causing problems in your ferret. There is a blood test that can measure the hormones produced by the adrenal gland, although in your ferret’s case the test is likely superfluous. The signs tell us your ferret has adrenal gland disease, the blood test will only confirm that.