Insulinomas in Ferrets
Older ferrets often develop a condition where they collapse suddenly and act very weak or disoriented. Many times they may start to grind their teeth or chatter and may develop full blown seizures. These signs are most commonly caused by low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Hypoglycemia if ferrets is typically caused by a tumor called an insulinoma that overproduces the hormone insulin. Insulinomas are diagnosed in ferrets by blood tests that are performed within a few hours of eating. In some cases, the ferret has to stay at the hospital a few hours so we can obtain a accurate results to make the diagnosis.
Insulinomas may often be surgically removed. In some ferrets, surgery is not practical and they have to be managed medically. We can talk to you about the benefits and risks of surgery versus medical management.
If your ferret is showing any of the warning signs above, you should apply corn syrup (e.g., Karo syrup) or pancake syrup to its gums and get to a veterinarian as soon as possible. If your ferret is seizuring, it is a critical emergency and you need to get to an emergency animal clinic as soon as possible if Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital is not open.