We had Bella at the vets Wednesday 31/01/01. Tuesday night I noticed she was limping. So I had a look at her leg and felt it and thought it may be broken (although I wouldn’t know how *that* would happen). Well, I saw a huge hole in her upper right front leg... An abscess that had opened and it was empty and left a big hole that went all the way down to the bone. I’m still a bit squeamish with abscesses and didn’t have a good look but I phoned the vets Wednesday morning as soon as they opened and I made an appointment and Louise said it needed some stitches. With us being paranoid we were scared that the leg would have to come off... The abscess she had was small but being on her leg it was looking bad and big, she only has little legs... Louise managed to stitch the wound, I didn't know how she'd do it... It looks a lot better than a hole and luckily Bella left the stitches alone, she was happily licking her wound so I thought she’d be taking the stitches out straight away- but she didn’t. I think she still limped on Thursday but Friday she was running fine again and even with the hole she still climbed on the 3ft cage that Rose, Jasmine, Barney and Spike are in...
Bella had also had an abscess between her shoulders last December, at least with that I was sure it came from fighting. When Jack, Dana and Mason had their abscesses in May/ June last year and when Tom had his on his mouth in October last year, I'd had no idea how they'd happened... Bella's abscess was only small so I kept sort of squeezing it and washing it with a weak saline solution and within a week it was gone. No vet needed this time.
On Tuesday 20th of March we had a little emergency with Bella. It was by chance that I noticed it, Bella was walking around and I picked her up- and noticed that her lower right canine tooth was sticking out of her mouth so that the upper lip couldn't go over it. I showed Pete and he noticed that it was loose. Again I have no idea how she managed to do that, for years I go without any accidents, no abscesses, nothing, and then suddenly we seem to be at the vets at least every fortnight with some weird thing. Louise had a look and then we had to leave Bella there and she clipped the tooth off and filed it down and she hopes that the gum will grow over it... It looked alright and Bella ate loads that night so she must have felt better. She has been just fine since. :-)
Bella developed a root abscess where her right canine tooth had been cut off and filed down... Baby and Dana had had the same root abscesses but Bella's was worse. Friday the 14th of December '01, I noticed that Bella had the abscess, she didn't want to eat at night and she didn't even want to take water with dissolved antibiotics out of a syringe, we wanted to take her to emergency vets Friday night but they told me she'd be okay until Saturday and then Saturday the vet said she should have seen the doctor the night before... Saturday, Bella went to the vets twice, in the morning Catherine just gave her an antibiotic injection and sent her home, I wanted the root taken out that was causing the abscess. So I phoned in (Pete had taken her as I was ill) and said about the root causing it all and shouldn't she have got at least a painkiller? So Bella went back in the afternoon and was anaesthetised but Mr Jones just had a look and didn't do anything again... Bella was very dehydrated so got fluid and painkiller. Monday morning Bella still wasn't eating or drinking, her last meal had been Friday morning! So off to the vets again and Catherine finally did what I suggested and took the root out. Well, Bella got more fluids yet again and by Monday night she was eating! I was crying I was so relieved, I thought she'd die, no food or water from Friday morning until Monday night...
So Bella was eating again but the abscess never really healed. It kept producing puss and during the second week of January, Bella became very quiet. She was in pain and all she did was sleep and she had problems eating so I hand fed her, there was also a swelling developing under her chin. We went to see Louise on the 11th and she put Bella onto a different antibiotic, Baytril. That didn't help at all and Bella was so quiet, she used to come out of the cage and go straight to another sleeping place, I thought something really bad was going on and that she was dying. So on Wednesday the 16th we took her back to Louise and Louise anaesthetised her and had a proper look in her mouth but couldn't see anything bad going on and couldn't find any root that was left in by accident so it looked like the infection had "just" gone into the bone so Bella was put on an aggressive antibiotic (Antirobe- clindamycin) which is good for bone infections and she also got Synulox again. By Friday, Bella was playing a little again and Saturday she was war dancing and playing with her cage mates Willow and Tara... Now she's back to normal and I'm happy again! :-)
Bella was put to sleep Monday 08/03/04. She has been slowly deteriorating the last 2-3 years. She never changed her coat for the last 2-3 years and her coat was thin and coarse. She became more and more quiet and wasn't as agile as before, didn't climb on things or war dance. She also had fluid in her lungs sometimes and was coughing now and again and if she was bad I gave her some frusemide. But all in all she was happy, walking around the house, even rolling around and playing in her own way but she slowly deteriorated more and more.
I've had her almost 7 years and she was at least almost 8. It was hard to let her go. But the last 1-2 weeks she lost her appetite. It was a struggle to get her to eat. Sunday all I got into her was egg. When I gave her some more egg at night, she didn't want any and it seemed to make her feel very sick. So I decided to have her put to sleep Monday unless Michaela thought there was a chance that an operation might help. Every morning she was up when I got up and asked to come out, even Monday morning she still wanted to come out and had a walk around. Sunday she walked around the garden and the lounge. So it was very hard for me to figure out whether she was suffering. She still wanted to live but couldn't eat and I didn't want her to get to the point where she was *really* suffering. After I saw her so nauseous Sunday night, I had nightmares Sunday night about her suffering. Then I spent half the night tossing and turning in bed. I was so glad when I got up Monday and saw she was still reasonably well. So took her to the vets and she was anaesthetised which was the worst and I was crying so bad when I heard her struggle in the "gas chamber" (a big gallon size plastic water bottle cut in half that they pop ferrets in and then they close it and it’s attached to the gas) and then when she was eventually anaesthetised she got the euthanasia injection into the heart. We then did an autopsy, I can't deal with loosing a ferret if I don't know what was wrong. The left adrenal gland looked bad, Michaela couldn't find the right and thinks it may have atrophied, her liver was really bad, very cystic. I guess the liver made her feel so ill. There was a growth on the pancreas as well, her heart was slightly enlarged so she had slight cardiomyopathy which would explain the fluid in her lungs and the coughing that she had every now and again. We sent samples off to the lab, should get the results Thursday or Friday.
But the gas chamber was definitely one of the worst things I have come across. I felt so bad that the last thing Bella experienced was fear and distress, locked in the bottle, not being able to escape the gas and of course it took a lot longer than with a mask because first the bottle had to fill up with gas... The ferrets struggle with the gas anyway but at least with a mask it's quick. I asked the vets to not ever use the "gas chamber" on the ferrets again...
I’ve been feeling very bad, I miss her waiting for me in the morning. Every time I loose a ferret I find it so hard that I’ll never see them again, never be able to hold them again, that they’re just gone, forever. I find that incredibly painful. But I’m also very good at pushing it to the back of my mind. So I’ll be okay. Eventually.
Recent bella pictures:
Bella's histopathology report:
Alopecia, acute inappetence and lethargy. ?Nausea, coughing. Post mortem samples: Rt liver lobe + liver lobe associated with gall bladder, left adrenal gland, tip left limb of pancreas.
Pancreatic Islet Cell Tumour and Adrenal Cortical Hyperplasia
Prognosis Not Applicable
The submission consists of fixed necropsy samples of various tissues from an 8-year-old, female, Ferret.
LIVER: the sections examined reveal mild, patchy fatty vacuolation, of minimal pathological significance, as well as moderate cystic biliary hyperplasia. The latter lesions are typically dramatic visually, but of little pathological significance.
GALL BLADDER: the section examined is histologically unremarkable.
PANCREAS: the section reveals a discrete neoplasm of islet cell origin. The appearance is of an originally encapsulated tumour which has now begun to infiltrate locally into the exocrine tissues.
According to most sources, pancreatic islet cell tumours are the commonest neoplasms of ferrets. they arise mostly from the beta cells and secrete insulin, hence their popular name of “insulinoma”. Clinical signs are referable to hypoglycaemia. Peak prevalence of these tumours is between 4 and 7 years old ad there is no sex predilection, although there is a suggestion that neutered animals are more frequently affected than intact ones.
ADRENAL GLAND: the section reveals substantial adreno-cortical hyperplasia.
Hyperadrenocorticism is common in ferrets. it may result from adrenal hyperplasia or neoplasia. Clinical signs may include bilaterally symmetrical alopecia, pruritus, pot-bellied appearance, muscle atrophy, thinning of the skin, vulvar enlargement in females, sometimes mammary gland enlargement in males and anaemia. Affected animals often do not have elevated cortisol levels.
This unfortunate animals may well have been suffering concurrent hypoglycaemia and Cushing’s syndrome.
After I lost Baby and Fox to kidney failure, I wondered whether that is what Bella had. Unfortunately we didn't send the kidneys away... But Bella had the same increased thirst and decreased appetite as Baby and Fox had had. Bella even drank so much that I tested her blood glucose to see whether she had diabetes. But her blood glucose was normal. Back then I didn't know that kidney failure causes incresed thirst. Like Baby and Fox she didn't want to drink out of the bottle anymore but much preferred the water bowl. So that is why she was up every morning when I got up, she was waiting to be let out so she could drink out of the bowl. I had no idea why she acted like this but Baby did the same thing and died of kidney failure and so did Fox and this year Rose and Willow...
My ferrets & ferret health and information pages