Pet Health And Care >>  Ferret >>  Adrenal disease in ferret  
Adrenal disease in ferret

Adrenal Disease in Ferret

Adrenal disease in ferrets has now become a common disorder, affecting ferret health across America.

It usually affects ferrets that are either middle-aged or order, but can be found in ferrets who are barely a year old. There are a few probable causes of this disease effecting ferrets. Spaying or neutering ferrets at a young age may cause its body to try and make up for the lack of sexual hormones, in excess. Another probable cause could be extended photoperiods, where the ferret is exposed to light for an extended period of time (natural day light, as well as four to five hours of artificial light).

Because of the limited time it spends in the darkness, the production of melatonin in the ferret reduces. Lack of melatonin causes the adrenal glands to be stimulated in excess. Therefore, a ferret should get at least 12 hours of darkness, in a day. The term “adrenal disease” covers a variety of associated conditions like malignant and benign tumors as well as adrenocortical hyperplasia.

The adrenal gland produces quite a few hormones which includes estrogen.

Adrenal disease in ferrets causes an over-production of some hormones, after which its symptoms and clinical signs become evident. One of the most common symptoms of this condition is hair loss, which begins around the tail and the rump, gradually affecting the flanks, the back, the chest and the abdomen. A little hair is often retained by the limbs and the head. Some ferrets suffering from adrenal disease may also have red and itchy skin. Other symptoms of this condition include – muscle wasting, thinning of the skin, lethargy, weakness and increased aggression. Therefore, if you notice any of these symptoms in your ferret, it is important to consult your veterinarian immediately. A clinical diagnosis of this condition may include x-rays and blood work. In a majority of cases, this condition affects only one gland.

The most preferred way of treatment is a surgery, where the affected gland is removed. If it is only the left gland that is infected, it can be removed entirely, but if the right gland is also involved, it can be removed only partially, because of its anatomy. However, after surgery, the symptoms may recur because of which another surgery may be required. In case of ferrets that cannot undergo surgery, because they are ill or weak, some medicines may be prescribed. However, these medicines can only control the symptoms, without removing the root cause of the problem. Therefore, the first choice of treatment should be surgery.

  Submitted on May 12, 2010