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Common Ferret Diseases

Recognize the signs to help your aging ferret.

Ferrets with chronic kidney failure drink and urinate much more than normal. When the disease is advanced, they lose weight. Relatively simple blood tests indicate the extent of kidney damage. These animals need a good quality diet, constant access to fresh drinking water and careful attention to dental health. Drugs, such as sulfas that compromise kidney function, should be used with caution. Any disease or situation that causes dehydration can be life threatening.

Older ferrets may become blind due to retinal atrophy or cataracts. Retinal atrophy is probably not inherited in ferrets: it may be caused by nutritional deficiencies. The eyes appear normal to the casual observer. Cataracts, on the other hand, give the eyes a characteristic pearly appearance and are usually hereditary. There is no effective treatment other than surgery, which is rarely attempted. Blind ferrets enjoy a normal life if you don't rearrange the furniture in their play area.

Cardimyopathy causes the heart muscle to thicken until it is so stiff that it cannot contract properly and is unable to pump enough blood to the body. You will notice your ferret tires easily after even gentle exercise and breathes rapidly all the time. Cardiomyopathy can be diagnosed early with an X-ray and echocardiography. The cause has not been determined, but nutritional deficiencies may contribute. Medication will extend the life of the ferret, but will not stop the course of the disease, which is usually fatal less than a year after diagnosis.

Other common diseases in older ferrets include: lymphosarcoma, a cancer of the lymph glands; adrenal gland tumors, a common sign of which is hair loss; and insulinoma disease, pancreatic tumors that produce excess insulin.

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Common Ferret Diseases

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Reader Comments
My ferret, Bollinger , passed away 17 June 2013 due to adrenal cancer although he was on monthly,expensive Lupron injections. Adrenal disease is caused by Marshall Farms neutering /spaying Ferrets at birth, denying the Ferret to activate their hormones properly! I've had 5 Marshall Ferrets over the past 20 years and am now on a cause to shut them down! They inbreed the Ferrets, as well, causing short lives making you buy another Ferret-which- is a natural thing to do once your heart is broken due to your Ferret's death. The Ferret's Marshall do not sell in the pet stores are sold back to Marshall and used for testing and sold for fur! This is abhorrent to me and I am reaching many people on Facebook to make them aware of Marshall Farm practices! I need the help of other Ferret owners who have 'had enough' to help me do this and ask you please,write me so I may start a petition against Marshall Ferret Farms!
CHELSEA, Miami Beach, FL
Posted: 4/24/2013 8:04:57 AM
Erica, Denton, TX
Posted: 3/11/2012 12:16:02 PM
Really good info, I'm praying mine stay well. But they might b wishful thinking :(
Leslie, Owned cross rds, AL
Posted: 3/22/2011 1:48:07 PM
My ferret, Bollinger, has adrenal disease and has lost his hair on his tail. He is my 5th ferret(all males) who have had this but the others were treated with Lupron and/or operations. Since Bollinger is over 4yrs old, I do not want to get the operation and my vet does not carry Lupron. He is being treated with Ferretonin but is not growing his hair back! This injection is said to work for 3-4 months but I notice that after 2 months, he urinates more frequently-a definite sign of adrenal disease. I'm wondering why all my Marshall Farm Ferret boys have adrenal problems and no other illnesses?Is Ferretonin any good?? I much prefer Lupron but I really prefer no adrenal disease at all. Chelsea Lee
Chelsea, Surfside, FL
Posted: 1/18/2011 5:21:50 AM
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