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Ferrets/Adrenal possible


Good morning,

I have a ferret she approximately 7 years old to best estimates.  I'm not positive as I rescued her about two months ago from a bad home.  She has insolinoma and is on Prednisolone twice a day (3mg/mL suspension with a dosage of .15 mL).  She also gets a pepsid suspension as well a mix of 10 mg/10mL the dosage is .25 mL twice a day.  The ferret's name is Sato.  She is eating ok. My worry is her fur.  When I got her she had almost no under coat (the shorter hair to keep them warm and such) Now she has it all back except for a couple patches on her neck and a huge patch (given her size) on her back, there is also a ring of no fur at all (guard or under coat) around the base of tail near her butt.  When I first got her I had her tested for adrenal via the T-panel it came back negative.  I have since learned that was a waste of money. I think that she is almost definately adrenal, but my vet says that the Prednisolone will cause fur loss.  I've done research on my own I doubt this is true.  Have you ever heard of this?  If you doubt it's adrenal, what else could it be?  I've thought poor nutrition but she is being fed Chewy and Stella's cat food (it's a freeze dry raw diet if you would like to see ingredients let me know and I can send a picture) I have two other ferrets that she is kept separate from during the day who are doing just fine so I doubt it's the diet.  I personally think it's adrenal disease, but my vet disagrees. I'm hoping to find something that either helps my case or points to something else.  

Thank you for your time,

Hi Brent:

Sorry to hear Sato is having so many problems.  I went to the Stella & Chewy's website and saw the ingredients which look fantastic on paper. My only concern is whether or not the actual kibble pieces are crunchy like regular kibble or if they are more the consistency of other freeze dried items I have seen that would not turn to crumbs if say you step on a piece.  The reason I ask is that ferrets digestive system is just too short to properly break down and digest things like pig ears, rawhide bones, etc.  So, as long as it crumbles when crunched, it looks like a very very good food. If it does not, I definitely would not feed it to a ferret.

That being said, lets talk about your questions. You are very right, the Tennessee Panel is right less than 40% of the time, so unfortunately it was probably a waste of money. The symptoms you describe her initially having of no undercoat may have been malnutriyion and adrenal, which you have partially helped with good nutrition.  I believe that your assessment of Sato having adrenal disease is most likely accurate. Is her vulva swollen at all? That is another symptom female ferrets can get with adrenal.  The kinda mixed up pattern of fur loss in patches is actually common, but almost always shows worst at the base of the tail.  So, again, I think your own diagnosis is spot on.  

She is probably also itchy. You may be able to keep her more comfortable by bathing, then gently rubbing olive oil into the bare itchy patches. Often they will scratch till there is broken skin that can become infected. Also, ferrets with adrenal tend to have a stronger more pungent odor than a healthy ferret. I bathed mine in warm water at least weekly (remember their normal body temp is 103-degrees, so bathe her in nice water) water using Johnsons & Johnsons baby shampoo (in the baby aisle of grocery or pharmacy) because it is pH balanced and will not further dry out her skin.  You might want to give her about a tablespoon a week of Linatone, fed from the palm of your hand 3-4 times a week with the total given per week about a tablespoon.  OR you can use Ferretone, again no more than a tablespoon is to mix 1/2 with olive oil whichever one you use, in which case you can give two tablespoons...she gets the extra oils without too many vitamins which could make her sick.  Her skin needs the extra oils, but there is some danger of vitamin overdose if given undiluted.

You seem to be a very well informed ferret owner and Sato is in good hands.  Is there a reason the ferrets are not all housed together?  Ferrets are so social, it is always best when they can be together if at all possible. That would greatly enhance her life quality. Nothing she has is contagious to the other ferrets.

If you can get your vet to agree to it, you can have Sato get Lupron Depot shots every three months. They are given into the muscle of the hip and although a little painful for about 30-seconds, they greatly relieve most sympoms of adrenal for up o three months at a time. I used them on a few of my ferrets. I found the cheapest way to do it is to get a written prescription and send it ORjust have it called in by the vet to a pet pharmacy (compare prices online). And tell him where to call it in to. You pay by credit card to the pharmacy after they receive the vets order.  They send the vial of Lupron Depot to you, then you take it to your vet and get charged only for giving an injection.  I found if the vet office orders it to their office, they double the price when administered. But if you pay the pharnacy the actual price, you avoid that cost and its not all that expensive if done that way. Otherwise the Lupron Depot injections can really be expensive.

Also, I have tried the lower dose once-monthly Lupron injections and there was no comparison in effectiveness compared to the three month shot, so be sure to get the three month Depot shot. Hope that helps you.  If your vet won't agree to the adrenal disease diagnosis, I would definitely seek an exotics specialist, as your vet may not be as informed as he should be.  Adrenal disease is about 99% diagnoseable by symptoms, which your ferret has as far as I can tell.

At age 7, she is not really a good surgical candidate, so I would strongly recommend trying the Lupron Depot injections and see if it doesn't resolve her symptoms within just a few weeks after the initial injection.

Best of luck to you and to her.  Feel free to write any time. I would love an update.  Also, I would like to invite you to join my Facebook group called THUNDERING FERRET PAWS.  We have about 200 members, owners, breeders, rescue folks and a vet or two.  You would find lots of input and suggestions others have learned as they battle these same two diseases, insulinoma and adrenal.  Its so much easier to learn from others experiences and more input is always helpful in any devision making.


Jacquie Rodgers


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Jacquie Rodgers


PLEASE READ ALL BEFORE ASKING QUESTIONS... WHAT I CAN DO: Being a ferret owner for 20 years, I can answer questions re: general care, cage ideas & requirements, healthy foods and snacks, safety issues, ferretproofing play areas, common causes of intestinal blockages, appropriate housing, litterbox training, making bathtime fun, toys, games galore, outdoor trips, "Do`s and Don'ts, traveling w/ferrets by car or RV, safe environmental temperatures & keeping your ferret cool in summer (NOT A FAN!!), setting up a hospital cage, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), helicobacter (ulcers), adrenal disease symptoms & care,intestinal blockages, helping your ferret recover quickly/safely from surgery; common problems of ferret ownership, illnesses; care of sick or injured ferrets, hospice/palliative care, facing & coping with your ferret's death, choices that must be made when a ferret dies, memorializing your pet online and in your daily life. #1 TIP: FIND AN EXOTICS VET BEFORE YOU GET A VET...IF YOU WAIT, YOU MAY FIND YOU HAVE TO DRIVE UP TO 6-HRS TO GET TO A PROPER VET!..if you did not find one first, be WILLING to drive as far as possible for proper care. AND.... #2 TIP: FERRETS ARE EXPENSIVE TO FEED, HOUSE, VET & CARE FOR PROPERLY...IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD ONE/OR NOT READY TO SACRIFICE, PLEASE DON'T GET ONE!! A FERRET IS NOT LIKE HAVING A CAT OR DOG!! THEY REQUIRE MORE TIME, ENERGY, CARE AND MONEY to properly care for them. Prepare to spend up to $8,000-$10,000 OVER A FERRETS LIFETIME (6 to 8 years usually) FOR NECESSITIES & VET CARE. WHAT I CAN`T DO: I can`t take the place of your ferret vet; if your ferret appears sick,PLEASE have your ferret examined by a ferret vet .TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE FOR A SICK FERRET - PLEASE, IF IN DOUBT, GET THEM TO A VET! 24- hours of a ferret not eating/drinking may kill your ferret! NEVER FORCE FEED A SICK..he may choke. Sub-Q or IV fluids from your vet who is not eating WILL help save his life IF he gets it in time.


I have nursed ferrets through many illnesses, an injury, and a variety of diseases over the years.Ferrets are so very delicate, yet incredibly strong-willed; a well-loved ferret will fight courageously to live if given proper medical care, close monitoring, and especially lots of TLC.& LOVE. A ferret can entertain for hours on end when they know they are the center of attention; and they can make even the grumpiest person laugh. They do require a LOT of time, love and daily care, but the love you give a ferret always comes back to you tenfold OR MORE!! I dedicate the time I spend helping others here to my precious little ones who have gone to the Rainbow Bridge. They taught me how to laugh, to love unconditionally....and how to live each & every day to its fullest, and for that I am forever grateful.


Yuma Daily Sun (local newspaper) recognition for being an outstanding ferret mom and having incredibly well-trained ferrets. I am currently working on book of ferret care to share my experience. JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK:!/groups/thundering.ferret.paws/ for faster answers to your questions and input from other experienced ferret owners. Lots of past questions answered on that you can still reference by category. If you don't find your answer there, please submit it and I will be happy to help you :-)

I read everything I can get my hands on regarding ferrets, I learn from my great Exotics Vet, and my own experience and interactions with other ferret owners. I am writing a book on ferret care (Great Need for a CORRECT one!) never rely on a ferret book OR a website when your ferret is sick. I can help with suggestions to use IN CONJUNCTION with proper care by your exotics specialist vet (ASK when you call for an appointment whether or NOT your vet has EXPERIENCE in working with EXOTICS..if not, move on and continue to seek one. The wrong vet can KILL your ferret. I learned this early when my ferret hurt his front paw jumping off the couch...a vet, NOT EXOTICS SPECIALIST couln't handle ferret properly because he was afraid of the ferret...and ended up xraying THE WRONGBARM, telling me it was not hurt. I took xray & ferret to EXOTICS SPECIALIST VET 3-hrs away & found out the arm WAS BROKEN & wrong arm had been xrayed. THAT is how important it is to have a PROPERLY TRAINED VET FOR YOUR FERRET!

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WANT TO BE A FERRET EXPERT? I serve as the resident "guru" for this category. IF YOU WISH TO VOLUNTEER IN THE FERRET CATEGORY, please email me at and request an application. All volunteers must complete a general ferret information questionaire to be a volunteer in this category. Thanks for your cooperation :-)

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I try to educate anyone who is interested in ferrets, as I take my ferrets with me in public a lot. There is a lot of MISinformation out there about ferrets that needs to be dispelled with fact, and ferret owners who need to be keep abreast of the latest and best information. FACEBOOK FERRET GROUP (OPEN): THUNDERING FERRET PAWS - Join us as we all share our pictures, stories & experience!! :-)

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