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Ferret with hair loss and wobbliness.

Species: Other
Breed: ferret
Age: 5-8 years
My ferett has lost all hair on back and i came home today and he is extremly wobbly and sick looking and unbalance I dont have a vet in my area that sees ferrets and nobody is open with it being new years. he has never acted this way and im afraid he is going to die is there anything i can do at home to get him threw until I can locate a vet monday?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am sorry to hear that Winston is having these problems. I am concerned about the symptoms you are describing.

While I can't say for sure, if a ferret is really wobbly it may mean that he has something called an insulinoma. An insulinoma is a tumor on the pancreas that is producing too much insulin. This will make the blood glucose level go dangerously low. If this is what is going on then he could get some temporary help by giving him a sugary substance such as maple syrup or corn syrup rubbed on his gums. Unfortunately insulinoma is a cancer. Some ferrets can be treated with surgery but this is a very serious condition.

However, hair loss is often a sign of an adrenal gland problem. Ferrets with adrenal disease will usually have hair loss on any of the rump, tail, sides and chest. When the disease is really serious they will be weak, wobbly and lethargic.

There are some treatments for adrenal disease but they can be expensive and are not always successful.

Some ferrets with adrenal disease also have insulinoma at the same time.

Is there an emergency vet in your area? It sounds like Winston really does need to be seen this weekend. Even if he has some temporary help with the syrup it will not help for long. I wish I could give you more hopeful advice!

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

In case it helps, here is a picture of the hair loss of a ferret with adrenal disease. They are not all exactly the same as this, but this is an example:

ferret adrenal disease

Customer reply:

i will put some syrup on his gums he has been eating fine and acting fine until today. i do not have a vet in town that sees ferret and no emergency vet i needed to see if anything could be done until monday when
i could find a vet

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Often vets who do not see ferrets will be willing to see one on emergency. Even a non-ferret vet should be able to help you determine if this little guy can make it.

I am worried with the symptoms that you have described that he may not survived. He may have advanced adrenal disease.

If he seems really uncomfortable you may need to consider euthanasia for him. Again, a non-ferret vet will probably be willing to do this for you.

I wish I could give you some at home treatment to do, but there really is not much else that you can do for him at home.

I'm very sorry for the bad news.

Customer reply:

i think he is very close to death now he is laying down and his eyes are opening and closing. He also is either gaging or acting like he is needing to throw up. Do u think he is suffering or will he go on his own shortly? if you think he is close and he is not suffering i dont want to call a vet in to euthenize him

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, poor guy. The gagging that you are describing may be something called agonal breathing. This happens often just as an animal is dying.

If he is at the point of agonal breathing then there is a good chance that he is not feeling any pain at this time.

Usually when an animal is having agonal breathing they will pass away within a few minutes. But, if this is continuing for more than 15 minutes then you really should seek out an emergency vet to put him to sleep.

I pray that he goes quickly. I'm so sorry.

Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

He is wanting down becuz i was holding him and now he has a little bit of energy and walking and drinking should i just put him in his cage and see if he passes because he had those gagging sounds for about a hour now and now he is drinking water out of a bowl

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I really think Winston needs to see a vet. I'm glad that he is up now but I don't think he is very comfortable. I wish I could advise you on more, but there are limitations when talking over the internet.

I really hope he does ok.

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.