Hobo and Gremlin

Gremlin and Hobo


Tuesday 30/01/01 I got a call from a lady, she had a jill and hob to give away, they're 2 years old this year, her kids have lost interest in them and they're not getting the attention they deserve. The lady fed them on raw meat and I was very pleasantly surprised but then I found out she didnít feed bones or any calcium/ mineral supplement. So I told her to get whole chicken and mince them with the bones and add cod liver oil and vitamins... She said she never thought about calcium... Then Wednesday night I had a dream about the ferrets and in my dream they looked awful, their spine was all malformed... Thursday I read the James Fox book and was looking to see whether Jack could have hypothyroidism and I came across what happens to ferrets when theyíre fed just meat, it said their bones go soft and break easily and they donít walk properly because their legs canít support their weight. So I got worried about the ferrets and decided to take them in.

So we went and fetched the ferrets Friday 02/02/01. They had quite a nice run with a little pipe and stuff and they look healthy! I was expecting the worst, them being kept in a tiny hutch or something but their run was fine. I always have worst case scenarios in my head... The people were alright as well, very nice, we stayed there for quite a while and talked, the husband came as well and was very nice.

Gremlin and Hobo

The 2 ferrets are called Hobo and Gremlin, they're very sweet natured, Gremlin is a bit shy and happily stays on my lap for a cuddle. Hobo is cuddly but not quite as shy as his sister. Gremlin is booked in to be spayed Wednesday 7th, before she comes into season. With them being indoors now with artificial light, she will come into season very quickly so I better get her spayed real soon. They were *really* quiet Friday when they came and also Saturday morning but I let them out Saturday afternoon for quite a while and they relaxed a bit and investigated and played a lot! Gremlin even played with me and war danced... Sunday morning they were mad and playing sooo much and Gremlin looks really happy now, Hobo as well. They're also slowly starting to eat the chicken, the lady had some beef mince and gave me the rest. But anyway, the two weren't used to having meat with all sorts of supplements added plus I think the lady didn't add water to the meat so the two were a bit puzzled but licked it off my finger and ate it and then they ate some by themselves... Sunday morning their dish was empty and when I gave them more food, Gremlin ate it straight away and Hobo had some after their time out.


We have now decided to keep Hobo and Gremlin. That means we're up to 15 ferrets! Gremlin looked weird at me Tuesday night (20/01/01), she captivated me if that is the right word, it's like with this one look we bonded and I can't really put it into words what happened but I don't think I can give her away... When her abscess is healed I will try and integrate all ferrets- that'll be fun... But sooner or later they should get on, huh...

Hobo and Gremlin

Update 23/02/01- Gremlin

Gremlin was spayed Wednesday 07/02/01. She was in a bit of pain when I got her back but at least that way they stay quiet! She happily stayed in her cage for 24 hours. Then Thursday night I let her out for half an hour, I looked at her stitches and couldn't believe how well the wound had sutured already! If I hadn't known I would've thought that she had been spayed 3-4 days ago, not 24 hours ago! I wonder whether it's because she's been on raw meat and the meat has enzymes and maybe they help the body repair itself quicker. Anyway, I've never had a ferret heal so quickly and efficiently, Gremlin's wound was perfect from the start! Amazing! Monday I looked at her wound, 5 days after the spay, and it looked like I could already take the stitches out! After 8 days I did take the stitches out then even though the vets usually wait for 10 days before taking stitches out. But she was well healed so out with them. We laughed though, when I fetched her and saw she wasn't feeling so good, I asked who did her and it was Mr Jones and Pete and I joked that he probably cut her open more than necessary and had a good rummage through her insides to see everything. Like doing a post mortem on a live ferret... ;-) Mr Jones just gets excited and loves looking inside of ferrets and probably all animals. He's a brilliant vet and surgeon though! But anyway, the wound wasn't that big so he probably just spayed her. I guess she was in more pain because she's fat and it's harder to spay a fat ferret than a slim one...


Then it was abscess time again... First Bella had one on her leg, Jack developed on under his nose and Gremlin then developed a huge abscess! Tuesday night, 13/02/01, I noticed it. For the last day or two, she had moaned when I picked her up and took her out of the cage and I thought why does she moan, her wound from the spay is well healed! And Tuesday night I felt her and ran my hand across some sticky part on her side so had a look and yes, it was yet another abscess. And big! 2 1/2 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide... I had some spare antibiotics so I started her on them straight away. The abscess never opened up and quickly healed. In the beginning you could see puss under the skin and then it dried out more and more and got covered by a bloody scab.

Abscess (or fungal infection???) 14/02/01:





Gremlin Abscess


[Update 15/01/05 Those skin infections that Gremlin had, I now think it was a burn. When Willow had her adrenal surgery and had to have a second operation to fix a hernia, she developed something that looked exactly the same. And Michaela said she was burned there, the heat bag she had been put on to keep her warm had been heated up too much. It hadn't felt hot when the anaesthetist or vet nurse touched it but it must have been too hot for Willow's body. Michaela said they saw the skin going red and tried to cool the area but the damage had been done and it went the same way as this big sore on Gremlin. Willow had also developed sores like that after her spay so it looks like Willow has been burnt twice.]

Update 23/02/01- Hobo

The worst thing happened to poor Hobo on 21/02/01- Hobo and Gremlin are in a cage in the ferret room. I put them back in their cage after their run and a minute later I heard screaming. Hobo must have stuck his nose against the mesh and yawned- and Reno got hold of his tongue! I almost fainted and panicked a lot. Ran to the cage and Reno had locked on and I opened his mouth quickly so he'd let go of the tongue and when Hobo was free, he just sat back with his head down and looked like he was in shock... I grabbed him and held him, blood running out of his mouth... I couldn't look at it, I thought what on earth did Reno do to the tongue... Pete was in the bathroom so I asked him to look at his tongue, I was too squeamish to look... It was just a puncture wound, no tear in it or anything, but poor Hobo was in pain! I cuddled him for a while until he felt better. A day later his tongue looked normal, you could not see any wound or puncture on it... But that was bad, I mean the vets must think I'm doing stuff to the ferrets because they come up with abscesses and weird things and just as well I didn't have to take Hobo to the vets and try and explain how on earth he had his tongue bitten...

Hobo on right and Gremlin

Update 26/04/03- Gremlin

Gremlin was ill on Saturday 1st of February 2003, she couldn't stand when I put her on the floor so first thing I thought of low blood glucose so we measured it but it was completely normal.† So off to the vets and Gremlin was very weak and lethargic and had a high temperature, 106F.† A big animal vet was on and gave her an injection of an anti-inflammatory and antibiotic and sent us home.† Sunday Gremlin was even worse, couldn't walk or stand so I phoned the emergency vets.† I was told that it could be an hour before a vet can see me.† But I was never phoned back and Gremlin's body†now started to go into spasm, I put her down in the toilet and she fell over on her side and went into spasm.† So I got scared and phoned another vet in Cardigan where my vets are.† The other vet was in the practice and said I could come straight away.† I knew her, she worked at my vets in '99 for about 6 months.† So we arrived there and she had a feel of Gremlin's body, took her temperature (it was 106F again)†and gave her 2 injections, again an anti-inflammatory (I'd asked for Rimadyl this time, on Saturday she had a different anti-inflammatory and it didn't work as well as Rimadyl) and an antibiotic (Baytril).† Monday we went back, Gremlin's temperature was down and the vet felt her body/ abdomen again and gave her another antibiotic injection. But Gremlin still didn't get better, she still fell over when I put her on the floor and couldn't walk much and all she wanted to do was sleep.† So Tuesday we went back to my vets and Michaela gave her a good examination and Gremlin felt pain when Michaela touched the top half of her spine.† Michaela said that could be a spinal injury or kidneys so to bring her in for tests on Wednesday.† So Gremlin was at the vets on Wednesday 5th, had anaesthetic, x-rays and blood and urine tests... The blood test that Michaela did in the practice showed that Gremlinís red blood cell count was low, the white blood cell count was normal (we would have expected it to be high because of the high temperature and very possible infection) and the platelet count was fine. Gremlin continued with Baytril for another week and recovered. Slowly, but one day she was alright again.

Update 26/04/03- Hobo

Sunday the 23rd of February 2003, Hobo became ill. When I wanted to put his group back in the cage, he came into the room limping. I didnít worry too much, I thought maybe a sprain, he does play very hard and throws his body around. But Monday he was worse so I took him to the vets and Michaela saw him and thought it was his right front shoulder, she didnít give him anything though. I also took Gremlin in so Michaela could see how much better she was and it was then that Michaela said she thought that Gremlin had had a urinary tract infection, sheíd done the urine test and looked at the sediment and concluded that it was probably a UTI... Well, Hobo got worse and worse and Wednesday he didnít want to walk at all and when I put him on the floor, he rolled on his back, I was scared that he had a spinal injury so took him to the vets in the afternoon and Michaela did an x-ray and blood test, all inconclusive... He had a slightly high temperature, 104 F, so he got Rimadyl and Baytril. In the evening Michaela wanted to see him again and the Rimadyl had kicked in and Hobo was completely different, stayed on his legs and was way more alert. Thursday he got another dose of Rimadyl and Baytril (at home) and Friday we saw Michaela again and Hobo was pretty much back to normal. I said to her that it looked like he had a UTI like Gremlin had and she agreed. I wonder if it can be passed from one ferret to another, Hobo does do post mortems on the other ferretsí poos and pees... Hobo was on Baytril for another week and quickly recovered. :-)

Update 28/02/04- Gremlin

Gremlin became ill Thursday 29th Jan, she was okay in the morning and couldnít stand or walk at night. It looked like a repeat of whatever was wrong with her a year ago. I got her out of the cage, put her on the floor where she laid on her side- and stayed there. She just couldnít walk at all or stand or move. I kept putting her in the toilet every few hours from then on so she could go potty and I held her upright. She was exactly the same way exactly a year ago... At night she could manage to crawl out of bed to go potty on paper that I put right in front of their bed but sheíd be exhausted after crawling a few inches... She was also drooling *really bad* when she had a pee and I measured her blood glucose twice, checking for insulinoma (which causes low blood sugar) which can cause drooling. Her blood glucose was okay. Last year we thought she had a urinary tract infection so because she had exactly the same symptoms, we treated her the same way again- baytril and rimadyl. I injected both for a few days. Then from Monday I stopped the rimadyl and gave baytril in tablets.

On Thursday 5th Feb she started to improve slowly. She could stand by herself and could walk carefully, like a person whoís been paralysed, very unsteady on her feet, very slow.

On the 10th/11th she improved some more again, started to move around more when out, she could run now, was more alert but still a bit unsteady on her legs.

I guess another week later she was sort of almost okay again. Iím sure it had nothing to do with her urinary tract or bladder or anything like that. What she had was neurological symptoms. When I saw her I thought of mad cow disease. She looked like the cows they showed on TV, staggering, falling, well, Gremlin looked a lot like that. You put her on her feet and sheíd just fall on her side. I donít know whether she was extremely weak or had some sort of paralysis or something wrong in her brain that affected her movements/ co-ordination of her legs. I think there may have been some sort of infection/ inflammation in her head/ brain or maybe even spine but I donít know much about these things. Someone told me about meningitis in ferrets and that it often follows an ear (mite) infection. So maybe that is what Gremlin had. And I'm quite sure that is what Tom had as well. At least now I've got an idea what might have happened to Tom... Anyway, I thought that can be prevented, ferrets getting meningitis and possibly dying because of an ear mite infection. So I immediately treated all ferrets with Canaural ear drops which have 2 antibiotics and some stuff against yeast in them. The lady who told me about the meningitis also said they (she and a friend who runs a rescue) treat all their ferrets with ivermectin once a month to control ear mites. So once I know exactly what to do, I will post it here.

[Update 17/09/06 Now I wonder whether the episodes that Gremlin and Hobo had could have been ADV...]

Hobo and Gremlin

Update 30/08/04- Hobo

Hobo, neutered, 5 years old, has developed a hind leg weakness over the last 1-2 weeks. He has great problems walking up the stairs, doesn't seem to have enough strength to push himself up the steps. When he walks, he wobbles and often slips. I also noticed he has problems urinating. He'll run from one toilet to the next, try and go but he can't, then runs to another toilet. I watched him, he strained to urinate, did 2 little puddles and eventually he emptied his bladder. I got scared and thought "prostate" so Michaela x-rayed him last Saturday 28/08/04. But she could not feel an enlarged prostate nor did it look enlarged on the x-ray. Also no evidence of bladder stones.

But the left kidney looked a lot more dense than the right and there seemed to be a problem with the spine, this is what Michaela wrote:"...loss of intervertebral disk space with bony proliferation/ lysis within both vertebral bodies, ventral border of vertebral bodies loss of contour, ?atonic bladder with urine remaining in bladder and high risk of secondary infection or LUT infection resulted in discospondilitis, DD tumour, reason for ataxic hind gait with intact sensation..."

Michaela said this thing with the spine could be because of a chronic (bladder?) infection and thatís why weíve sent off urine for bacteriology. Or of course it could be a tumour. It could also make it uncomfortable for Hobo to pee. Blood was also sent off.

The x-rays are here.

Blood and urine test results:


Haemoglobin 17.6 g/dl
Haematocrit 0.48 l/l
Red blood cells 7.79 10^12/l
MCV 62 fl
MCHC 36.7 g/dl
MCH 22.6 pg.
White blood cells 20.2 10^9/l
Neutrophils seg. 43% 8.69 10^9/l
Lymphocytes 56% 11.31 10^9/l
Eosinophils 1% 0.20 10^9/l
Monocytes 0% 0.00 10^9/l
Basophils 0% 0.00 10^9/l

Film comment:
RBC: Red cells appear normal
WBC: White cell morphology appears normal


Chloride 118.1 mmol/l
Total protein 64.3 g/l
Albumin 33.3 g/l
Globulin 31.0 g/l
A/G ratio 1.1
Urea 14.9 mmol/l
Creatinine 62 umol/l
ALT 88 U/L
AP 24 U/L
Amylase 16 U/L
Sodium 157.6 mmol/l
Potassium 4.96 mmol/l
Na/K ratio 31.8
Cholesterol 2.98 mmol/l
Calcium 2.37 mmol/l
I. phosphorous 2.18 mmol/l
AST 58 U/L
CK 75 U/L


{U}Culture & sensitivity

No growth was obtained after prolonged incubation.

Update 06/09/04- Hobo

Hobo was booked in for today and we did an exploratory. It wasn't a nice operation... First when he was intubated and had an ultrasound, he wasn't getting enough gas and woke up a little, enough to struggle. :-( Then during surgery he stopped breathing a few times. Michaela found a lot of suspicious growths on his pancreas, looked like lymph nodes, not insulinomas. The left adrenal gland looked bad so was removed. It looked cystic and part of it was so close to the vena cava that Michaela could not remove all of it... She did cut a blood vessel and I saw a lot of blood and I got worried that she nicked the vena cava but it turned out she cut the blood supply of the tumour/ adrenal gland. Bleeding was stopped. After that was done, we emptied the bladder and got 30ml out of it. Michaela tried to feel around the bladder and prostate but could not feel anything unusual but said she doesn't really know how it should feel like in a ferret.

So now I'm home and will hopefully fetch Hobo at 6 pm. Michaela doesn't know if she wants Hobo to go home at all but since there is nobody at the vets at night, he may as well come back home.

I just feel so bad at the moment. Hobo was very ill before and I feel like we've just made it worse because now he has pain from surgery. (He is on painkillers but still...) What if he still can't pee?

Hobo's histopathology report:


Hindlimb ataxia, severe atonic or blocked bladder. L adrenal submitted - enlarged with small secondaries near caudal v cava. 2 enlarged lymph nodes from mesentery near gut / pancreas.

Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma

Prognosis: Very guarded to poor

The submission consists of an adrenal gland and a lymph node from a 5-year-old, neutered male ferret.

ADRENAL: the architecture of the adrenal gland is distorted by a large, multilobular mass. This mass is composed of pleomorphic cell populations comprising large, swollen polyhedral cells with abundant, finely vacuolated or granular, eosinophilic cytoplasm; smaller, more basophilic cells; and intermediate sized cells more or less resembling those of normal adrenal cortex. There is a modest amount of fibrous stroma, which also supports a fairly substantial infiltration of lymphocytes. There is only mild nuclear pleomorphism or atypia, and mitotic figures are scarce, but in my section there is evidence of nests of neoplastic cells erupting through the capsule of the gland. The histological appearance is consistent with adrenal cortical carcinoma.

According to many sources, adrenal cortical tumours are the second most common neoplasm in ferrets, after islet cell tumours of the pancreas. As with islet cell tumours they are more frequently recorded in spayed females and castrated males than entire animals. Adenomas are small and usually present as a discrete nodule within an otherwise unremarkable gland, while carcinomas are large, frequently completely effacing the normal architecture of the gland. Distant metastasis apparently occurs infrequently, so early surgical removal of the affected adrenal gland can be curative, even with carcinoma, especially when there is no overt evidence of extracapsular invasion. In this case, however, I am concerned about your finding of several small secondaries, which suggests a very guarded or even poor prognosis should be given.

LYMPH NODE: the node is enlarged as a result of massive dilation of several medullary sinuses. The lymphoid tissue surrounding these distended sinuses is essentially unremarkable. The cause of the dilation could not be ascertained from the section examined, but it is usually due to partial or complete occlusion of efferent lymphatics caused by, for example, inflammation or pressure from a neoplasm.

Update 04/10/04- Hobo

After surgery Hobo could urinate a little bit better but it wasn't long until he had problems again. So on 25th September, Hobo had his Lupron injection, 2mg of the 4 month depot (which I had ordered from the Professional Arts Pharmacy from America). But his problems urinating have just become progressively worse.

Update 08/10/04- Hobo

Hobo still can't urinate and his hind legs are getting weaker still. He's had a 2 mg, 4 month Lupron injection 2 weeks ago and has started propecia last Tuesday 05/10/04. From Sunday to about Wednesday he emptied his bladder in his sleep a few times but Thursday he had problems again and his bladder got really big again. I now try and express it, when I squeeze it gently, he starts to strain and this way we seem to be able to (almost) empty it as he helps. But I can only express so much at a time, then he needs a few minutes rest before we express some more.


Update 11/10/04- Hobo

I had Hobo put to sleep today. Michaela had to go away so last Saturday 09/10/04 and today I saw Mr Jones. He said that Hobo definitely had spinal damage. He held Hobo so his legs were hanging down and he held him so that the front of his feet were touching the examination table and Hobo made no effort to put his feet on the table. So lack of reflex. When I put him in the toilet to express his bladder and his back feet were bent back so he was almost standing on the top/ front of his feet (if you know what I mean), he also made no effort to put his feet right. Last night and this morning I had real problems expressing him. It hurt him and he didn't want it doing. Later this morning I finally expressed his bladder. But he was in so much pain every time I expressed his bladder and I hated seeing him like that... Also, he didn't have weak hind legs, he had partial paralysis. Mr Jones did an autopsy, he didn't manage to find the adrenal glands but he said there was nothing wrong with his prostate or bladder or anything. So I guess he had some spinal damage and when we did the exploratory operation, we found the adrenal carcinoma by chance. I just feel really sad now. For the last 2 months I've been so upset about Hobo not being able to pee and having problems with the hind legs. I was hoping that it was adrenal and prostate problems and have given him every medication imaginable. And all in vein. I was so hoping he would get better... He'd even had dexamethasone and Baytril last Saturday to see if it was some inflammation that was causing his problems. Didn't help though...

This is a picture of Hobo and Reno with Reno lying on top of Hobo. When I put my first 3 groups together last March, Reno from group 1 and Hobo from group 2 bonded very quickly and have been best friends since... I was scared that Reno would miss his new best buddy a lot but luckily there are still 9 other ferrets in Reno's group and he's still very good friends with Fox anyway. But it was just amazing how Reno and Hobo had bonded...

Hobo and Reno

Update 15/01/05- Gremlin

Gremlin really hasn't had it easy with 2 infections at the beginning of 2003 and 2004, I really don't know what she had back then but she exhibited neurological symptoms and a high fever. I'm sure she has some degree of brain damage, she just doesn't act like the other ferrets, she is the sweetest little thing, and when she sees me she walks over to me and rolls over onto her back so I can tickle her tummy. Her eyes are always wide open in awe (wonder) it seems. She is always happy. But she's had a rough time again since the beginning of December 2004.

Gremlin had a dental on the 11th of November 2004 and Michaela took out one canine (top right) that was badly infected with red swollen gums. She meant to take out another canine that had broken off (bottom left) but Gremlin started to bring up red fluid through the tube when she was intubated so Michaela took the tube out and masked her instead but then Gremlin turned blue so Michaela stopped the dental... Gremlins tonsils had been red and inflamed, too. I donít know why Gremlin brought up red fluid, itís from the lungs but Michaela didnít know or say why. †

Then Tuesday 30th November 2004, Gremlin was a bit quiet in the day. I did notice that she went straight to bed instead of play and was a bit worried, I thought after Hobo (her brother)†dying she may be getting sick... But with the worry about Fox (who was on the verge of being put to sleep) I forgot about Gremlin. Then at night I saw her come out of her bed and go to the toilet and she looked terribly depressed and could barely stay on her legs... So I picked her up and her mouth was full of blood and puss. I got a syringe and a bowl of warm water and squirted the water in her mouth to rinse all the stuff out... She was in terrible pain so I gave her from Fox's liquid diet so she had something in her tummy and then gave her metacam painkiller drops. Later on she had raw meat but was still in a lot of pain. So Wednesday I needed the vets. I already knew Michaela wasn't at my vets so I phoned the vets to ask who was on and a big animal vet was on all day. The only other vet I trust there really is Mr Jones who is one of the owners of the practice and he wasn't on... So I didn't feel comfortable having a big animal vet intubate Gremlin and pull a canine so I phoned another vet in Llandysul. I feel uncomfortable going to another vet. She could almost not do it because they were all booked up and I was really distressed, I thought if they don't have time and there's nobody in Cardigan, where can I get her treated then. But the vet said the next few days were booked up as well so she said she couldn't leave Gremlin like that and did her. The broken canine that Michaela had wanted to remove but couldn't, that canine's root got infected. And it needed to come out. So I was glad that the vet did her. But when I found her with her mouth on that Tuesday, I completely broke down. I could only just cope with Fox and the thought that I would have to have him put to sleep in the next few days and when I saw how bad Gremlin was, I got sooo upset. I felt so sorry that she was in so much pain and I just cried thinking why do they have to suffer so much...

Anyway, the abscess didnít get any better, it kept producing puss. So Thursday the 9th of December I went back to the Llandysul vets to get more antibiotics and I was hoping to see the vet who did Gremlin but a male vet was on and he wasnít sure so he asked me to come back the following Tuesday to see the vet who had done Gremlin and he also gave me some antibiotics.

But I found out that Michaela was back the following week so Monday the 13th I took Gremlin to see Michaela. The wound was still producing some puss so we changed the antibiotic from antirobe to synulox. Michaela also did a head x-ray to check if there was any root or bone fragments left in the wound that stopped it from healing. And she cleaned the wound and rinsed it. And then I just kept an eye on Gremlin, it wasnít hurting her at all anymore, sheíd been in pain for a few days after her tooth was pulled but then the pain stopped very soon even though it was still so infected. But it didnít look right. The puss finally stopped but there was still this white bit in her mouth which looked like bone...

So I think Tuesday the 21st, I went back to see Michaela. She confirmed it was indeed exposed bone and was as worried as I was. All had healed but the jaw bone was exposed. Not good. She was a bit evasive but I think she thinks or knows that this is the vetís fault who pulled the canine. Michaela said something like ďit sometimes happens that you slipĒ so it sounded to me like the Llandysul vet used a scalpel or something to get the canine out and slipped and cut the gum. I thought the abscess had eaten away at the gum and it has but obviously not bad enough to expose the bone. Sounds like that was the vetís fault... So anyway, Michaela then called for "plastic surgery" to cut the gum and lip, take the scar tissue off and pull it over the bone and sow it back together. Of course it upset me that Gremlin was to have such reconstructive surgery on her mouth...

And then Thursday 23rd, Gremlin had the surgery done. It was not as bad as I had imagined, Michaela cut all along the outside of the mouth and thereís lots of stitches, I havenít looked too much as I donít want to disturb it so it heals. Michaela said if this doesnít work, she doesnít know what to do... So Iím praying itíll work. If bone is exposed, it can easily get infected so I have no idea what would happen if this didnít work...

Gremlin's mouth after surgery

Gremlin's mouth after surgery

Then on Tuesday the 4th of January 2005, I was back at the vets with Gremlin. Michaela had to anaesthetise her to take out the stitches and look at it, she cleaned out the wound to see whether the bone was covered- and it wasnít... :-( But it was granulating or something like that, sort of new flesh/ gum growing so hopefully itíll grow over the bone and cover it. For the time being, Gremlin is still on more antibiotics, sheís been on them since the first of December!

Update 22/07/05- Gremlin

Gremlin has just been diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy. She is very happy, just hasnít got much energy. She also has some fluid in her lungs so she is on a low dose of Furosemide (we are giving her a liquid paediatric formulation called Frusol) and has been started on Enacard. She is doing really well on those medications.


Update 01/12/05- Gremlin

I thought I actually write about a non-medical thing for a change... A while ago I had a huge scare with the ferrets. It was new bedding day and when I do the ferretsí beds, I throw all bedding on the floor and when the last cage is done, I take the bedding downstairs and wash it. Well, Bobbyís groupís bed was done last so they were out while I did the washing. And when I wanted to put Bobbyís group back in, I couldnít find Gremlin... I mean I knew there was *no* way that Gremlin could have ended up in the washing machine because I check the bedding before putting it in the washing machine to make sure no ferret is sleeping in there, but I looked through *all* the play beds two or three times and could not find her. My heart sank and I went to the washing machine and frantically tried to stop it, it was rinsing and the door wouldnít open so I had to pump the machine out first and then stop it and then I could open it. My heart was pounding as I pulled all bedding out- no Gremlin. So I stuffed it all back in, only to pull it all out again because I thought maybe Iíd missed her. So I picked up every blanket, opened it, shook it and after spending quite some time on it I decided Gremlin was not in there. So back to looking through the play beds and the little madam had decided to sleep *under* some bedding that she should have slept *in*. Iíve never had such a fright, I have no idea what I would have done if I had accidentally washed and killed a ferret, I donít think I could live with that... And since then Iíve been so paranoid when I do washing. Even if I take our clothes out of the washing basket which is in the kitchen, and even if no ferret is in the kitchen or lounge, I still wonder whether one might be in the washing. I usually fill the washing machine, close it, then I look round the house until I have seen all ferrets that are out, and then I still think stuff like ďwhat about RubyĒ even though Ruby had been out before and I had put her back in the cage but I am just really, really paranoid about the washing now... :-(


Update 02/09/06- Gremlin

Gremlin has deteriorated and I thought she needed to be checked by the vets.† She had hind end weakness which I had put down to her cardiomyopathy but after Spike had low blood sugars I thought it would be horrible if that was what she had so I tested her and her blood glucose was low at 63 mg/dl and 55.8 mg/dl.† So off to the vets to have the BG checked again and also urine and then to do a blood test with electrolytes.

Michaela did a BG test and it was low in the 60ís again.† She tested the urine and it was full of bacteria (from the kidneys as she said) so Gremlin is now on Baytril.† We changed her heart tablets from Enacard to Benazepril because Iíd asked for it, what with my track record of having ferrets with kidney failure I thought it was safer plus I heard from people who used Benazepril and found it worked better. And in cats Benazepril is given as a treatment for kidney failure.† So the bloods came back and the results do indicate kidney failure.† Urea/ BUN and creatinine were high. PCV was high (which I think indicates dehydration) and neutrophils were high and lymphocytes low.† Sooo, cardiomyopathy, insulinoma and kidney failure???† It looks like the potassium wasnít done or I didnít get the results but Michaela gave me a potassium supplement called Kaminox which is used for kidney failure in cats plus with a relatively high dose of Furosemide (4mg twice a day) she very likely needs a potassium supplement anyway.

Michaela also gave me a supplement for renal failure called Ipakitine. Gremlin gets a little bit of that. Considering the blood test results, she does not look that sick.† Her appetite is better than really good and she looks happy.† So really strange.† Thing is, we canít really give her pred for the low BG because itís not good for the heart or the kidneys and we canít give her fluids because itís not good for the heart and she is on diuretics for fluid in her lungs so itís all a bit tough.† Iím trying to lower the Furosemide dose and she does drink a lot anyway.† So I hope weíll be able to regulate that.† We also discussed digoxin and may give it a try. But for the time being Gremlin has improved a lot and is a lot more active. :-)

Blood test 30/08/2006


Total Protein 71 g/l (51 - 74)
Albumin 35 g/l (26 - 41)
Globulin 36 g/l
Urea 25.3 mmol/l (1.9 - 7.49)
Creatinine 187 umol/l (< 75.0)
ALP 45 iu/l (34 - 66)
ALT 81 iu/l
Bile Acids 10 umol/l
Triglycerides 1.05 umol/l


Haemoglobin 17.6 g/dl (12.0 - 18.0)
Red Blood Cells 9.66 x10^12/l (6.7 - 12.1)
PCV 0.61 % (0.43 - 0.55)
MCHC 28.4 g/dl
MCH 18.2 pg
MCV 64.0 fl
Platelets 550 x10^9/l (297 - 910)
White Blood Cells 4.8 x10^9/l (3.5 Ė 7.0)
Neutrophils 67% 3.65 x10^9/l (1.5 Ė 5.9)
Neutrophils (Band) 0% 0.00 x10^9/l
Lymphocytes 16% 0.77 x10^9/l (1.7 Ė 2.9)
Monocytes 5% 0.24 x10^9/l (0 - 1.17)
Eosinophils 3% 0.14 x10^9/l (< 0.35)
Basophils 0% 0.00 x10^9/l (< 0.14)

Blood Film Examination

Blood smear prepared from EDTA sample was examined. Red cells appear normocytic and normochromic. A mild mature neutrophilia is seen with no evidence of toxic changes observed. A mild lymphopaenia is seen. Platelets appear normal in number and morphology with no evidence of platelet clumping or EDTA clots seen.

Update 08/01/07- Gremlin

Gremlin was going downhill before Christmas.† I had started to inject Furosemide and she was on some injectable antibiotic.† She got so sick that I almost had her put to sleep.† Then I stopped all injections and went back to Furosemide tablets†and she got better.† But she was still very dodgy and I was scared she could go downhill any minute.† And of course I didn't want to call out the vets over Christmas but also didn't want to put her to sleep before Christmas†so that nothing could happen over Christmas.† I was also scared that she could just die and I'm sure the emergency vets wouldn't be chuffed if I called them out for an autopsy.† On the other hand I would go insane if I didn't have an autopsy done.† So I think Thursday before Christmas I went to the vets and talked to a vet nurse, I said what the problem was and that if Gremlin died, that Pete and I would be happy to do an autopsy.† I asked for 2 pots for the pathology lab and also a needle and suture material.† I got everything.† Of course I would have called a vet out if Gremlin had to be put to sleep but just in case she died on her own.† So anyway, Saturday I got a call from Michaela, she said she thought that doing an autopsy would be too traumatic for us and that if we needed to have an autopsy done or even euthanasia, that I should call the emergency line and ask them to get in touch with Michaela and then she'd arrange to meet us.† I was so speechless that Michaela would do this for us!† I thought there still is good in this world.† As far as I know, Michaela never does emergency stuff so I found this so very nice of her to offer.† I saw her before New Year and thanked her again and she said she'd do this anytime, even weekends.† I wish she had offered this before Willow†was put to sleep, we probably would have had better pathology results because I don't think the big animal vet we saw knew which tissue samples to take.† Michaela would probably have sent more lung tissue etc.† Anyway, for the time being, Gremlin is stable.† Before New Year, Michaela was really pleased with her and when she looked at Gremlin in the cage, she said she looks so good as if nothing was wrong with her.† But at the moment she is getting quieter.† Walks around a lot less when she's out so we're definitely getting nearer the end but it's just so slow.† She has cardiomyopathy, has been in kidney failure since August or so and has low blood sugars...

Update 14/03/07- Gremlin

Michaela did an ultrasound of Gremlin's heart last week.† We wanted to try Vetmedin, it's been mentioned on the FHL again so Michaela wanted to make 100% sure that Gremlin had dilative cardiomyopathy and she said she was curious for herself, too.† It was interesting, big heart and huge "hollow spaces" (since we talked in German I have no idea what they're called in English...).† So we tried Vetmedin but it did not agree with Gremlin at all...† So I tried a lower dose but could not see any benefit, if anything she was just doing worse on the Vetmedin so after a week I stopped it.† I upped her Furosemide from 10mg a day to up to 15mg a day and am giving it to her every 8 hours.† She's better on that.† But considering how much more Furosemide she suddenly needs- and I could easily give her more still because even on this dose she still sounds fluidy- the end is definitely coming nearer...† :-(† I searched the FHL archives regarding the Furosemide dose and found a few posts that said that Furosemide is a "dose to effect" drug.† One was in reply to a Furosemide dose question I asked at the end of 2001 regarding my Jack.† So I printed it out and gave it to Michaela today as she was not happy when I said she's been getting 10mg a day for some time when the highest dose stands at 8mg per kg per day.

Update 11/04/07- Gremlin

Gremlin was put to sleep on the 19th of March.† I hated seeing her, breathing seemed very hard for her.† I could probably have let her go on for another few days, maybe even weeks.† But I didn't want her to suffer.† It was such a hard decision because I was happy when she was gone because it was easier on me, not having to see her the way she was and not having to worry anymore.† So I was scared that I was having her put to sleep for my own sake and before she needed to be put to sleep.† It wasn't clear cut that you could say "yeah, she's definitely suffering", even Michaela looked at her and while she was in a cage you wouldn't have known that anything was wrong with her.† She was eating good.† But a lot of the time she looked like she found it hard to breath and the fluid in her lungs had got a lot worse, I thought she must be feeling so ill, she must be thirsty constantly with a dry mouth because of all the diuretics.† Then her teeth were so dirty.† So it was like one morning I made the decision to let her go.† I had hoped she would still be around when it got warmer so she could go out in the garden.† I'm sad this never happened...† Anyway, she had every illness possible according to her pathology report...† Dilative cardiomyopathy; adrenal cortical carcinoma (bilateral); pancreatic islet cell tumours; glomerulonephritis; renal cysts; cystic biliary hyperplasia; splenic congestion, haemorrhage and extramedullary haemopoiesis.† You wonder how did she still look reasonably good with *all that* going on???


Gremlin's histopathology report:


Weakness, grey mucous membranes, still eating, muscle wastage, still plenty of visceral fat, Treated with Frusemide, Fortecor, recently Vetmedin. PM - clinically in heart failure, lungs dyspnoe with crackles. Liver engorged/enlarged, fatty and infrequent firm lumps. Spleen - 2 medium to large circular blood filled areas, soft to touch not encapsulated. Numerous brown/enlarged visceral ?NLL post prandial. Pancreas small nodule, clinically hypoglycaemia. 2 kidneys - multiple small to large fluid filled parenchymal cysts. Adrenals - left enlarged/calcified. Right - central ? necrosis.


Cardiomyopathy and Pathological changes in various tissues


Not Applicable

Histopathology report

Sections from necropsy samples of multiple tissues from a 7-year-old, female Ferret were examined microscopically.

LIVER: 2 samples received; 2 sections examined. Both sections reveal marked sinusoidal congestion, most obvious in the centrilobular zones, where the effect is compounded by atrophy of hepatocytes. There is also mild to moderate, patchy hepatocytc lipidosis; mild, multifocal extramedullary haemopoiesis; and, in one of the sections, a substantial focus of cystic biliary hyperplasia.

KIDNEYS: 2 samples received; 2 sections examined. Each of these sections contains a fairly substantial cyst, one in the cortex and the other at the corticomedullary junction and both associated with interstitial fibrosis. Occasional other small foci of interstitial fibrosis, accompanied by lymphocytic infiltration and tubular basophilia, are present and there is also widespread thickening of glomerular capillary basement membranes.

SPLEEN: 1 sample received; l section examined. The red pulp is severely congested and there is a large area of parenchymal haemorrhage. There is widespread extramedullary haemopoiesis. The white pulp is moderately hypercellular.

HEART: 1 sample received; l section examined. Grossly, the heart appeared unusually globular in shape and the left ventricle appeared diluted, with a thinner wall than normal. Microscopy reveals widespread myocyte degeneration accompanied by marked, patchy fibrosis, involving both ventricles end atria. There is only a scant associated inflammatory infiltrate, predominantly mononuclear.

LUNG: 2 samples received; 3 sections examined. These reveal moderate to marked congestion, with areas of atelectasis and increased numbers of alveolar macrophages, some containing pigment.

PANCREAS: 1 sample received; l section examined. This reveals a small focus of exocrine (acinar) nodular hyperplasia as well as two small, well-circumscribed islet cell tumours (insulinomas).

ADRENALS: 2 samples received; 2 sections examined. Both show marked proliferative change, involving multiple cell types. In neither case is there any marked nuclear atypia, but in one case mitoses are moderately frequent and, in combination with the pleomorphic cell population, this is probably enough to justify a diagnosis of carcinoma.

LYMPH NODES: Multiple samples received and examined. All are markedly enlarged, chiefly as a result of dilatation of the medullary (and to a lesser extent subcapsular) sinuses by a combination of oedema and haemorrhage. One also features multiple, substantial aggregates of macrophages containing abundant, faintly pigmented, needle-shaped, crystalline inclusions.

DIAGNOSIS: Dilative cardiomyopathy; Adrenal cortical carcinoma (bilateral); Pancreatic islet cell tumours (insulinoma); Glomerulonephritis; Renal cysts; Cystic biliary hyperplasia; Splenic congestion, haemorrhage and extramedullary haemopoiesis.

DISCUSSION: I believe the principal cause of this ferret's deteriorating condition was the dilative cardiomyopathy, which was causing congestive heart failure, evidence of which is present in the liver, lung, spleen and lymph nodes. Dilative cardiomyopathy is increasingly recognized as a cause of congestive heart failure in ferrets, but, as far as I am aware, a definite cause has not yet been identified. The possible role of taurine deficiency (as proposed in cats) has been considered. Adrenal cortical tumours and pancreatic islet cell tumours are the two commonest neoplasms in ferrets and it is not unusual to see both in the same patient. Cystic biliary hyperplasia is an uncommon, apparently spontaneous condition seen occasionally in most species. It is usually of minimal clinical importance, but in this case I wonder whether there may have been some bile leakage, which could account for the clusters of crystal-laden macrophages present in one of the lymph nodes in this submission. Renal cysts are moderately commonly seen in ferrets and are usually of no clinical significance. Chronic interstitial nephritis, present in this individual at a mild degree, is also common in aging ferrets. Glomerulonephritis is less common. The degree in this patient was moderate and it may have been sufficient to be causing biochemical changes associated with renal failure. No obvious cause was found for the glomerulopathy.

Gremlin and Hobo

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