Posted: March 1, 2010, 5 a.m. EST
Q: For the last two weeks, my male ferret who's at least 6 years, has lost about 1 to 2 pounds. He quit eating his crunchy ferret food about a week ago. He has quit playing and moving around too much and just lies around or sleeps. When he walks, his two hind legs are very weak and slide out from under him. I started giving him Walmart brand Ensure, chicken baby food, Ferretone and anything else I could try. We researched it, and I started thinking it was insulinoma. The veterinarian said it was the complete opposite. She also said his glucose in the blood was 300+. She said normally they like it between 90 to 200. She also gave him fluids.
Tomorrow we go back for another fluid shot, and a blood test and urine test. My question is, do you agree or have advice to offer? Could there be anything else going on? Have you heard of this? If my ferret does have diabetes, if I do want to do insulin shots and monitor his blood, will he be suffering the rest of his time or will he be able to be happy and playful and everything just like before? I don’t want to make him suffer but I want to give him life if it’s best for him. I love him. Also, I read while researching that diabetes for ferrets is rare, but a lot of articles said diabetes comes usually after having another disease or surgery. My ferret has not had surgeries nor has he been diagnosed with any other condition before. It’s like it skipped all that stuff and went straight for this.
A: You are correct in stating that spontaneous diabetes in ferrets is very, very uncommon. Most cases of diabetes in ferrets are transient and occur after surgery to remove an insulinoma. These cases are transient and typically resolve once the ferret’s body adjusts to the removal of parts of the pancreas.
Your ferret’s signs sound very much like a ferret with diabetes. Your veterinarian sounds like she has given you some excellent advice and has done all of the proper testing. Your veterinarian may recommend more tests, such as radiographs and an ultrasound to examine the pancreas and to be sure no other disease processes are going on in your ferret.
Be warned. Sometimes ferrets with spontaneous diabetes also get better spontaneously! In such cases, you need to be very careful because, in those instances, it is possible to easily overdose your ferret with insulin.
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