We had an "emergency" today, I was sat down in the ferret room when Dana walked across to the food bowl. She looked at the food and I think licked it but didn't eat. She looked thin as her sides were going in, her coat was scruffy and she didn't look very stable on her feet... I knew something was wrong! So I picked her up and the smell of puss hit me- her left ear was full of puss... I tried to clean it and then thought, may as well let the vet do it and she definitely needs antibiotics, I hate abscesses anyway but so close to her brain and all... So I phoned the vets, it was Sunday but my vets always have one emergency vet on at all times. So we went in and the vet cleaned her ear, there was a big lump behind her ear and the puss was coming through a needle big hole inside her outer ear... He squeezed it a bit and then gave her an amoxicillin injection. Jack had the amoxicillin and it worked wonders for him when he had his abscess 2 weeks ago. The vet gave me 4 lots of injections, Dana got 0.1ml and then vet filled the syringe with 0.4ml. Vet told me to inject her every other day. When we got home I decided to clean the ear a bit more, the vet said the more often I clean it, the better. There was still loads of puss coming out, the vet couldn't completely empty the abscess. So a little squeeze and her ear is full again... And when I had her scruffed and she struggled, the puss came out as well...
A day later I was still squeezing the abscess and the puss started coming through yet another little hole in her ear. But by Tuesday, the holes had sort of healed up, no matter how much I squeezed, no more puss came through, yet there was still a huge lump behind Dana's ear and Dana was in pain as well.
Thing was, Pete and I went to Telford on Tuesday to stay with his parents for a few days. Sheila's partner Ron had died and we wanted to go to his funeral which was in Bolton on Thursday. And the drive to Bolton was a lot closer from Telford than where we live! But of course Dana's ear got worse while we were away, the lump was all around her ear and almost the size of a walnut. So Wednesday we went to the vets that Pete's mum uses, he had a look at Dana's ear and said it probably didn't need lancing and he gave us different antibiotics, Synulox. He gave Dana an injection and then I had to give her tablets, I was able to crumble them up and dissolve them in cat milk and Dana drank the milk with tablets real well even though she's usually *very* suspicious when the taste of the milk changes... Dana reacted to the injection and had a big hard lump on her neck like Jack had but the antibiotics took care of her abscess and by the time she finished her antibiotics (8 days), it had completely gone! :-)
Thursday 22nd of March, Dana had a skin tumour removed. I'd been feeling her body to see if she had any more than the one that was obvious but didn't find any and when we picked her up, the receptionist told me that they were shaving the coat around the tumour and found another one- and they removed both... The one wound Louise put a stitch in and the other she just left open... It wasn't bleeding or anything so it must have been a very superficial tumour but it still looked horrible... Then when we got home I felt her neck again and I think there's a third skin tumour, it's tiny right now but I'll keep an eye on it, maybe it's not a tumour but I bet it is... I had to have the tumour removed because it was bothering Dana. It was bleeding a little, similar to the tumour that Jilly had had. So I thought that it should come off...
Dana is old now, almost 8 years, and looks adrenal with her sparse coat (as can be seen in the picture above taken Christmas Day 2004), and after her sister Baby and brother Fox died of renal failure, I was going to have her blood tested beginning of the year to see if she's in the early stages of renal failure. At least if she was and it was caught early, maybe I could help her better than I could Fox (and Baby who was diagnosed at her autopsy). Dana isn't showing any symptoms of renal failure but has the smell that Baby and Fox had and she is maybe drinking a tad more than usual. I wouldn't think renal failure if there wasn't the smell and if I hadn't encountered it before.
But before I made an appointment, she started coughing during the first week of January. She mainly coughed during the early hours of the morning and late at night and eventually she also coughed in the day after she'd been asleep. The cough didn't sound like fluid in the lungs to me and because she started to cough more frequently, I took her to the vets Saturday the 8th. I was going to wait until Monday but Friday night she was bad so I thought I take my chances and take her to the vets Saturday. Mr Jones was on and listened to her heart and was sure he could hear signs of cardiac disease. He gave me frusemide for her cough as he thought it was caused by fluid in or around the lungs and told me to come back Monday for an x-ray.
So Monday the 10th I took Dana to the vets early, she had an x-ray and blood test. In the evening I fetched her and Michaela showed me the x-rays (they can be found here). The heart was so enlarged that even I could see it without any problem. It was pushing the oesophagus up. But she also had problems with her right kidney. We could see the left kidney without a problem but where her right should be there were 3 "growths" (for a lack of better words). We couldn't even determine which one of the "growths" is the kidney. But one must be the kidney and the other 2 shouldn't be there. As I see it, she either has kidney cysts or tumours or adrenal tumours. One way or another I will not have any surgery done, she is happy now and I don't think surgery would do any good. Her bloods came back and aren't perfect, either, and with her enlarged heart I'm not going to risk surgery.
These are the blood test results:
Total Protein 72.1 g/l (51 - 74)
Albumin 32.2 g/l (26 - 41)
Globulin 39.9 g/l
Creatinine 52 umol/l (< 75.0)
ALP 103 iu/l (34 - 66)
ALT 71 iu/l
Urea 37.9 mmol/l (1.9 - 7.49)
Haemoglobin 13.6 g/l (12.0 - 18.0)
Red Blood Cells 9.89 x10^12/l (6.7 - 12.1)
PCV 0.445 % (0.43 - 0.55)
MCHC 30.6 g/dl
MCH 13.8 pg
MCV 45.0 fl
Platelets 654 x10^9l (297-910)
White Blood Cells 8.7 x10^9l (3.5 - 7.0)
Neutrophils 66% 5.74 x10^9l (1.5 - 2.9)
Neutrophils (Band) 0% 0.00 x10^9l
Lymphocytes 17% 1.48 x10^9l (1.7 - 2.9)
Monocytes 7% 0.61 x10^9l
Eosinophils 10% 0.87 x10^9l ( < 0.35)
Haematologists Comment Unremarkable cellular morphology seen throughout film.
This profile appears to be consistent with your diagnosis of cardiac disease (presumed congestive cardiomyopathy) with elevated urea.††Otherwise the changes seen do not appear too significant although the eosinophil count is 10% of the total white cells the normal range in ferrets is reported up to 8% in some texts. It might be useful to attempt to improve cardiac function using ACE inhibitors such as enalapril (0.5mg/kg sid).
But here are 3 more cute pictures from Christmas Day, the ferrets loved playing in this cube that is Tyler's new bed. As you can see, she does not look sick at all and is still playful now:
I lost Dana Tuesday 12th of April... She was booked in for a dental Thursday 7th and when I arrived I wasnít booked in because the receptionist had booked me in on the following Thursday (14th) by mistake. So I made an appointment for Monday 11th and left Dana there and in the afternoon I got a call that they hadnít had time to do her. So she was booked in for Tuesday 12th. I also had an appointment to vaccinate the dogs in the afternoon so I went in with the dogs in the afternoon to fetch Dana but I had a really bad feeling, I sort of knew she wasnít going to come home alive. And while I was in the waiting room, Michaela called me and told me they had just lost Dana. The dental was almost finished and then her heart gave up. I knew that there is an increased risk when ferrets have cardiomyopathy but I didnít really take it seriously. Also Dana had been doing sooo well, she still had the sparkle in her eyes and looked happy. So it still came as a shock even though I had had a bad feeling deep down. I have been trying to see it from the positive side. She didnít have long left and at least she didnít get to the stage where she suffered. And I for once didnít need to make the decision to let her go. And I was sooo worried about going to Germany in May and have my friend Pat look after her because Pat has never looked after a sick ferret and she finds it hard to scruff a ferret as her hands are weak and you know you sometimes have to scruff a ferret to medicate it or force feed it. And Dana needed scruffing for her frusemide even though she took it fine but she needed to be scruffed. So now I donít have to worry when we go to Germany because I now donít have sick ferrets. I had even "prayed" not long ago and said I donít care what happens now as long as none of the ferrets get really sick and die while we are away. So somebody must have taken me very literally.
But no matter how many positive sides I think of, truth is I miss her, and with Dana, my first group is gone. Jilly, Angel, Jack, Igor, Bella, Tom, Mason, Baby, Dana, Fox and Reno. The last 4 died in the last 9 months. I now have lost 7 ferrets in 13 months. I hope Iíll at least have a break now and not loose any more ferrets in the next year or two. But Rose already has this "look" about her, her eyes look like Renoís did. I just hope she wonít die anytime soon...
Dana didnít look good inside, I really donít think she would have been well much longer, truth is I donít know how she could still look well considering what we found inside. Her left kidney was small and round and scarred. The right one was a bit bigger and still kidney shaped but also scarred. Her lymph nodes were all enlarged, her gastric and mediastinal lymph nodes were huge. In her chest cavity there were weird things, she had emphysema and solidified lung tissue. The thymus (we think) was pretty big, too. It looked like she had lymphoma on top of her heart problems. But I remember reading that there can be scarring with ADV and enlarged lymph nodes (alongside an enlarged spleen) are the most common gross findings when a ferret has died of ADV.
But the pathology report has come back and is completely inadequate. Itís the worst report Iíve had so far. Usually it is always the same pathologist who does the ferrets but it was a different one now and he barely wrote 2 sentences. I doubt he really looked at the tissue. The kidneys looked so abnormal yet he thought they were fine! The lymph nodes just had benign enlargement, he never said a word about the solidified lung tissue and his diagnosis was cardiomyopathy and nothing else. I mean I would have expected her insides to look normal if this was all she had. Like with Spike 1, he had tumours in his chest cavity but the rest of the organs looked so healthy. Iím sure Michaela isnít happy about the report and I hope sheíll do something about it, I feel like e-mailing the lab myself and ask if the other pathologist could have a look at the tissue samples or if they could cut some more slides.
This is the pathology report:
Died under GA for dental extractions and scale & polish of teeth. GA not prolonged, kept warm. Housed with recently confirmed death due to Aleutian disease. History of enlarged heart and treated for cardiomyopathy.
Cardiomyopathy and Pulmonary Oedema
Prognosis Not Applicable
SPLEEN, LIVER, THYMUS, ADRENAL GLAND. No significant lesions.
LYMPH NODES. Reactive hyperplasia.
KIDNEY. Small focus of cortical scarring, probably an infarct.
LUNGS. There is slight diffuse flooding of alveoli and there is an increase in alveolar marrophages.
HEART. Grossly the chambers are dilated and the walls are thin. Histologically there is moderate multifocal, myocardial degeneration, fibrosis and mononuclear cell infiltration.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is increasingly recognised as a cause of heart failure in the ferret. The cause is unknown but may be associated with taurine deficiency.