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Ferret Adrenal Disease


If you have, had or are going to have a domestic ferret then you will most likely be concerned with this common disease.  Current theory suggests this may be caused by spaying and neutering at to early an age causing the increase in estrogen hormone (in male and female) that has been found to cause the outward signs of disease you see at home.  This has not however been found to be the case in other species such as dogs or cats.  Other factors such as inbreeding, diets, excessive daylight, and genetics may also play a part as evidenced by European ferrets rarely having this disease.

Signs you may see in your pet vary and can include reproductive, skin and behavioral changes.  The most common sign is progressive hair loss beginning at the tail and progressing towards the head but often sparing the head, the neck and legs.  Other signs include swollen vulva and vaginal discharge in the female, straining to urinate in the male due to prostate enlargement.  Return to mating behavior (even though they are fixed), excessive weight loss, anemia, ravenous appetite and excessive weight gain, scratching and frequent urination may occur or combinations of all of these signs.  Although there are diagnostic blood tests for this condition the signs are so obvious and common I believe your money is better spent towards proper treatment.

Treatment of Ferret Adrenal Disease is best accomplished by surgery.  Although the left side adrenal tumor is easily removed with standard methods, the right side usually requires a ferret cryosurgery set up to be safe and successful.  This is again your best bet for a permanent solution.  This can cost from $275 to $800+.

Medical treatment is available in many forms.  Lupron, a once a month or every four months injection, is expensive at $80/month or $300+/four months.  A melatonin implant is available that lasts 3 months at about $50+.  Although the hair re-grows, these treatments do not have effect on the tumor itself and it continues to grow and may eventually debilitate the animal or in some cases turn cancerous.  Additional new treatments are on the horizon.

After doing hundreds of ferret surgeries and treatments with many being older (between 7 and 10 years) it often bought them many months or years of quality life.

The above is a reprint of an article written by Jack Landess, D.V.M., as a public service.  Reprint permission was obtained from the Florida Pet Pages.

For more Ferret information see:



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