Wednesday, August 12, 2009


     Insulinoma occurs in Humans, cats, dogs, and ferrets. This disease is caused by tumors in the pancreas. Causing the pancreas to produce to much insulin and making the blood sugar (glucose) drop below normal ranges. This condition is usually called hypoglycemia in humans, but in ferrets it is called insulinoma.

     Unfortunately this is a fairly common disease in ferrets age 2-4 and older. It is normal for a slight drop in glucose after eating as our bodies utilize the food we have eaten. A ferret is usually diagnosed because he or she had an incident of unusual lethargy, or a seizure.

     Dealing with dead ferret sleep is easy compared to dealing with your fur baby stretched out on his/her side and either drooling or foaming at the mouth while twitching and shaking and not responding to you can be unnerving.

     Part of your ferret first aid kit should include either a small bottle of honey or Karo® syrup. Using a Q-tip® apply a small amount to your ferret’s inner lips and gums up to 20-30 minutes. Once he/she comes around to alertness provide him/her with a high protein snack that is meat based. Gerber® stage 2 chicken baby food is a good choice. The protein will help to stabilize the glucose levels. NOTE: This is the only time you should give your ferret Karo ® syrup or honey.

     You should make a vet appointment to determine if it is insulinoma or some other problem that sent your ferret in to a seizure. The vet can run a fasting blood glucose test. A ferret should fast between 4-6 hours before this test. Caution if it is suspected to have insulinoma do not go over the 4 hour fast time and have some kind of protein meat based food with you for after the test. This test can be done every 4-12 weeks if insulinoma has been diagnosed. This test can be done at home by using a glucose meter for pets. GlucoPetweb

     A ferret’s blood glucose is normally between 80-120 mg/dl. Under 70 can be an indication of insulinoma. The recommended course of action is surgery to remove the tumors and up to 70% of the pancreas. The earlier the surgery the better the prognoses. If surgery is not an option there is drug therapy but this is only a maintenance as the drugs will not eliminate the tumors nor stop their growth and can have adverse affects on the ferret’s other organs.

     One of the drugs used is prednisone this helps to raise glucose levels by mobilizing carbohydrates and/or proglycem an antihypertensive drug which decreases the secretion of insulin. One side affect is the Pred belly. Where the ferret will gain weight around his/her middle. As with all medical conditions treatments need to discussed with your vet to give your fur kid the best life he/she can have.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately my 6-1/2 year old ferret Stinky died from insulinoma and the prednisone did not do much to help her. She never gained weight and actually surgery was not an option. RIP Stinky @ Rainbow Bridge