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Sick Ferret - Advice Needed

May 21st, 2006, 04:59 PM
Below is the summary of the last 5 days.... if anyone has seen these symptoms before please respond back. I am mostly worried that it could be the start of juvenile lymphoma. Khoey, is a male sable ferret, 14 months old - netuered and descented. He's a Marshall's ferret.

Tuesday Night - Noticed a skinny poo... gave both ferrets a good dose of lax

Wednesday Afternoon - Took both ferrets out to play and noticed Khoey was stumbling around and just 'not himself' He look weak, and tired and just wanted to sleep. Took him to the vet.

Vet did a blood glucose check which came back normal. Also took xrays to see if any blockage... nothing seen on the xrays (2 views) Temperature was 40.2 C (high normal for ferret but not a fever) His weight was 980 grams. Noticed Khoey was a bit dehydrated so gave him sub-q fluids and send him home.

When I got home I noticed Khoey was very lethargic and when I set him down on the floor, he just flopped down into a laying position. He could walk a few steps but then flopped down again. Very weak looking and sleepy. I decided to wait and see how he did through the night. He did go to a corner and have a poo... I noticed it was very seedy.

Thursday Morning - Khoey was very weak, and when I'd set him down, he just went to laying down. Did not even put weight on to his legs at all. After a few mins, he would lift his head and look around. Phoned vet back and they said bring him in for the day to have a full blood panel and barium xrays.

Vet took full blood panel (white cell count normal, lymphocyte normal, liver/kidney values normal, fasting glucose normal, electrolytes slightly low) They also took a barium xray (no bockages within the intestines, and nothing seen compressing the intestines) Still very lethargic and dehydrated.

Khoey was admitted for the night to be put on IV fluids. They could not get a catheter in either front leg, so they kept with Sub-Q Fluids, and started oral antibiodics (Novomoxin) as a precaution. Pood and peed normally through the night.

Friday Day - Still at the vet. Did another blood work, but just CBC. His white cell count had risen slightly. Temperature was now 38.9 (normal) He was slightly more alert and walking around the vet hospital, though his legs still looked weak, and he was kind of shuffling along with his rear legs for a few minutes but then would gain strength it seemed and be able to walk no problem. Was given a/d food by syringe. His weight was now 949 grams.

Friday Afternoon - Vet said Khoey could go home. Keep hydrated with pedialyte and water, and make sure he eats. At home Khoey was very sleepy still but seemed more alert and more energectic than the previous 2 days.

Saturday Morning - Took Khoey for his 24 hour follow up. He was more energetic and walking all around the exam room. Still kind of hesitant about jumping up on things and still walked a bit unsteady, but seemed generally improved. He was still dehydrated though, so they showed me how to do sub-q fluids at home and sent me home with a full bag of lactated ringers sol. and butterfly catheters. 25-30cc 2x a day sub-q. Still on Novomoxin for a week. She also said if his weakness didnt improve by Tuesday after the long weekend, that she'd start him on prednisone. Also given prescrition diet a/d mushy food high in calories and protein.

At the office he started shaking a crocheted egg toy in his carrier... he had not played in the last sevral days at all! This was a good sign!

Sunday Morning - Much more energetic but still dehydrated (by checking the skin on his back) Actually ran after Mi'ko and tackled her while out of the cage! Very interested in exploring again. Though he is still tired and likes to rest every little bit, and while in the cage just sleeps.

I have seen him pee normally since being home but has not pood as much as I'd like to see, though he could have gone in the cage litter pan and Mi'ko is in there as well. I did see him poo once today while out. It was a bit loose but still had form. No seedy poo.


So from the tests they did...

-He does not have insulonoma (blood glucose normal)
-DIM unlikely as he shows improvement in mobility and alertness, and no fever
-White Cell Count (first day was normal, second day was slightly elevated)
-Temperature was always within normal-high normal
-Spleen, and other organs looked normal on the x-rays
-No swollen lymph nodes or other lumps/bumps felt on exam
-He is dehydrated and not eating/drinking normally
-He lost 40 grams of weight over the 3 days
-Weakness worst on Thursday and has improved dramatically since, but is not quite back to normal
-Still sleep alot while in the cage but out, he is starting to play agin

Does this sound like an infection of some sort? Viral or Bacterial? Does white cell count raise with either?

Does this sound like the start of Juvenile Lymphoma? Weakness, Lethargy and high white cell count are listed for this, as well as 'wasting' Would antibiodics have any effect on JL? When a ferret with JL has symptoms, do they typically not show any temporary improvement with antibiodics and fluids/high calorie supplement diet? Or do they typically start to show symptoms and then just continue downhill?

Why would his white cell count be normal one day and 'slightly' raised the next? Is this typical of an infection of some sort that was just caught early enough to not show on the first day?

My Vet is unsure of what it is, but is leaning toward a bug of some sort at this point. Do you have any ideas based on the above?

May 21st, 2006, 10:40 PM
Its possible that there may have been a case of dehydration... but I don't know really what the problem could be...

May 22nd, 2006, 09:56 AM
I KNOW he is dehydrated... it's what might be causing it that has me concerned.

Today he is active... exploring the apartment. But I still have not seen him drink from his water bottle, or the dish I have out for him. I am trying to force pedialyte and water, and still giving sub-q fluids (I skipped theis mornings sub-q to see if that's why he isnt drinking on his own... he might just not feel thirsty with the lactated ringers sol in him)

My concern is ferret juvenile lymphoma. If this could be the start of it. I dont know if a ferret with JL would show improvement initially, after being depressed for several days. Would the fluids and force feedings of a/d help to temporarily bring him back?

I am worried that he will just continue downward.

The other option is an infection or bug taht he picked up. I just wanted some possible advice if there is a vet around, or a knowledgable ferret pwner that has seen these symptoms before.

May 22nd, 2006, 08:05 PM
My, that's a young age to show such troubles. I am not a vet and have only had slightly similar experiences, yet my ferrets were much older. It has actually happened to 2 of mine, and both were 7-8 years old. For them it was cancer.

Before I get into the sad tales, please understand that each ferret is very different... and since mine were so old, I doubt this is the same, but I wanted to share the story since walking troubles and dehydration are a common thread.

The first one, a 7-ish year old silver girl named "Nala", well, we don't know exactly what it was. Her symptoms were that she was having trouble walking, only a little at first, but it intermittedly increased over the next few weeks to where she would at times daze off midway through her walk and had trouble walking with her back legs. (just sometimes, not always) The vet thought it might be liver cancer/problems or just old age, but the tests weren't "solved" before she died. She actually passed while I was out of town for the week. My husband had her in a pet bed next to him all night. She woke him up with her coughing. He held her for a while... she coughed, and then passed away.

The second ferret, an 8 year old sable girl "Loki", had just 1-2 days of walking troubles until she started having small seizures 3 weeks ago. At first she didn't shake or anything.. she just looked dazed and didn't move. She would snap out of it after a time and return to normal. She was also dehydrated slightly, but nothing a syringe of water didn't fix. The doc said he thought it was pancreas cancer. He mentioned a surgery to remove the pancreas and said that it was a 50/50 chance, but it was probably too far along to treat, especially at her age. He also said that cancer is the main killer of old ferrets because "something has to kill them when they get old, and it's a genetic defect commonly found in ferrets." He could feel the tumors with his fingers. I had decided that she was too old to go through such a surgery, but I wouldn't put her down because she was very much alert and playful in the days around going to the doc's office.

The next three weeks passed with only minor troubles, overall she was a wiggly little girl with a lot of energy. One time she messed herself in her cage, but she snapped back to normal after a bath and an hour of sleep.

Well, this past Saturday, she investigated around the house and played for 3 hours, slept, woke up, played again for an hour and then curled up in a blanket at the end of the hallway. A few hours later we heard her scream. She was pooing on herself, so I washed her off and set her on my lap. I gave her a tiny bit of sugar-liquid followed by some foods (high protein) to even her out. She ate eagerly and happily. A half hour later she started having screaming seizures that were happening 5 mins apart. She was drooling on herself, her neck would turn way back like she was looking at something up and behind me, and she was shaking like a ferret that just got out of the bathtub. I tried to get her eyes to look at me, but she had no control during the episodes. I had to gently hold her head in place during the seizures for fear that she would hurt herself more. They lasted about 20 seconds long. I tried putting some karo corn syrup on her gums to end the seizure, (saw that online) but they just wouldn't stop after the first massive one. After this continued and I saw she was in pain, we decided that it was time.

So, despite the sad stories, it seems unlikely that this would happen to a ferret so young... yet I wanted to share info for you and your ferret's sake.

Good luck... thank you for being a good parent. :angel:


Bless little Loki and Nala, I hope they are together forever now. :love: :love: :pawprint:

May 23rd, 2006, 01:09 PM
Actually due to the fact that hes responding so well to antibiodic treatment and it seemed to be gastrointestinal... we are thinking possibly helicobacter infection which is common. It may have progressed over the last month until he had outward symptoms.

Thanks for the responses.