Ferret Adrenal Tumor Disease Diagnosis and Treatment

Ferrets are prone to a number of different diseases and one of the most common is disease of the adrenal gland. Adrenal tumors in ferrets involve the production of sex hormones. Both male and female ferrets get them, although it is slightly more common in females than males. The signs of adrenal disease are related to the overproduction of either estrogen or testosterone.

Symptoms of Adrenal Disease in Ferrets

Adrenal disease in ferrets is normally easy to diagnose as the signs and symptoms are predictable. The most common symptoms include:

  • Hair loss in a very predictable pattern beginning at the tip of the tail, later over the back and stomach.
  • May be underweight with skin wrinkled and very thin.
  • In females, enlargement of the vaginal labia as a result of too much estrogen production.
  • In males, difficulty urinating as a result of enlargement of the prostate gland due to high hormone levels.
  • Some ferrets will scratch because they feel itchy.

Medical diagnosis is normally made by testing hormone levels in urine and by visual inspection since no other disease produces the same distinctive hair and skin pattern as an adrenal glad tumor.

Treatment of Adrenal Disease in Ferrets

The only cure for this disease is surgery and removal of one or both adrenal glands. If the ferret is fairly young and in otherwise good health, surgery is normally the recommendation.

When surgery is not an option, the condition can be kept under control with medication. Drugs which inhibit the over-production of hormones are given every 1 to 6 months, depending on the drug chosen, and must continue for the life of the ferret. Two of the most popular choices are Lupron, normally given as a monthly injection, and melatonin implants which are implanted under the skin every 3 to 6 months.