On Monday 5th July 99 I thought I'd have a nice day out and drive to Aberystwyth to buy a digital camera. I'd finally decided which one I wanted and phoned a shop there to ask if they've got this one in and they had so I got ready to go there. I like Aberystwyth, it's 40 miles away. Galina, Vicky's and Tricky's owner, lives close to Aberystwyth so I phoned her and asked her if she and her niece Julia would like to come with me. Julia is from Russia and lives on the outskirts of Moscow and is here for 4 weeks, she's 14 and her English is very good. So I fetched them and we drove into Aberystwyth and went shopping, I bought my digital camera.
Then we drove a bit further up North, there is a nice village (Borth) there with a beautiful beach next to it (called Ynyslas) so I thought we could go to the beach and see the lady who adopted Guy who lives in Borth. We first went to see Sara, the lady who adopted Guy and Guy looked really good and Sara had bought 2 polecat jill kits to keep Guy company and he adored them! So I was happy to see that Guy was so well and his cage was so cool, made by a carpenter!
We went to the beach after seeing Sara and had a good time, it was such a lovely warm day! And on the way back through Borth, I saw Idris' van, he had adopted my first 2 rescue jills. So I stopped and talked to him and he'd just finished some work so we followed him home. The jills were fine, one of them had babies and was in a cage outside with them. The other jill had escaped and had her babies under the shed but she comes out for food and water... Well, the caged jill had 3 kits left over- 3 sandy jills... There was I, remembering Angel. I'd been in such a weird mood, I was so happy inside because it's summer and the sun was shining but I also thought of Angel because it was almost a year since she died and I was dreading the 14th... So I was between laughing and crying all day... And now there were 3 "little Angel's"... I had a look at all and took the one that looked the most like Angel, the littlest one... Of course my head and heart were fighting over the decision but my heart is so much stronger than my head... I swapped her for a bag of food that I had planned to sell to Idris...
I know the jill can't replace Angel but I can pretend... It made me feel a lot better, I still miss Angel but I try and pretend that I've got her back... Today is the dreaded 14th and yes I cried last night around the time that Angel was put to sleep and I also cried this morning when I bought red roses for Angel but I feel okay otherwise...
Here are some photos of Rose and one of me and her in Galina's garden that was taken on the day I got her:
Update February 2006
I must really make an effort to write more about the ferrets, not just how they arrived here, followed by their illnesses and deaths (as was recently pointed out to me ;-) ) It's just that I'm so horrendously busy and at the moment barely manage to keep up with new arrivals and illnesses. Rose is a great ferret, but she never bonded much with me, none of her group did. Until they grew older. Rose's group is so lovely, they're so happy and playful, never fight.
Obviously I'm now updating Rose's page because Rose was really sick, she had some of her tongue amputated on Thursday 23.2.2006. I fed her at 9.30 a.m., she was okay, I cleaned her teeth, checked her mouth and could not see anything suspicious. She had her top canines removed on the 30th of January '06 and the bottom canines were injuring her top "lip" and I was checking that and also something that looked like an ulcer on the roof of her mouth and I was planning to book her in to the vets. 2 hours later I was letting Rose and her group out for a run and noticed Rose's mouth was full of blood. I looked inside her mouth and her tongue looked injured and distorted. Straight to the vets, Michaela had a look and the tongue had a big tear in it. No idea how this happened, at first I thought Rose was clawing at her mouth because the ulcer (?) hurt and that she clawed and ripped her tongue. But now I think either Leo or Piper bit her tongue. The cages are like one big unit, 4 double cages all in a big unit and Rose's group is in the second cage up so well off the floor (even the bottom cage is a foot or so off the floor). But Leo and Piper (1 1/2 years old) have become very aggressive and very frustrated. They hate the ferrets that have come in after them, especially Kobi who I took off a neighbour last summer. Leo and Piper are so wound up, Leo even urine marks! They jump at the cage unit, cling onto the mesh and climb up to any ferrets that are by the mesh and I'd seen them mouthing at all the groups and maybe they got hold of Rose's tongue when she was mouthing at them... So anyway, Michaela cut the tongue off along the tear so it's shorter now and v shaped and is stitched. Rose had painkiller (Vetergesic and Norocarp) and antibiotics (Baytril).
But then she didn't want to eat at night. I offered her the usual minced chicken, I made a liquid convalescent diet up but she wouldn't take either, not even water. Tried Friday morning and still no luck. She was making gagging noises. Back to the vets and Rose had more painkiller and the antibiotic injected since there was no way she was taking anything by mouth. So back at home I tried the liquid diet again but she didn't want to swallow anything.
Saturday, 25.2. Things are not looking good. Last night I mixed A/D with water and syringe fed her. She was struggling so much and in obvious pain. This morning blood around her mouth and she refused to swallow water that I trickled into her mouth. I injected her with Baytril and painkiller and she didn't move at all. I even gave her 10 ml of subcutaneous fluids without any struggle (no struggling means she is really sick). So back to the vets. Rose had Synulox (Clavamox) now and Michaela has given me a powder that you use to make an electrolyte solution to drink and also a liquid cat diet in a can. I've got more Synulox to inject for tomorrow and Monday and also Rimadyl for tomorrow if necessary. I'm dreading this being a weekend. I was crying all morning seeing Rose in so much pain. I felt like having her put to sleep because it just kills me to see a ferret suffering so much. I thought what if we fight this infection and she goes through all this agony only to die in the end?
I think she got so bad because she didn't get the right antibiotic. Usually the ferrets get a shot of Baytril when they have something wrong and then oral Synulox. But Rose didn't take anything by mouth so she got more Baytril which obviously didn't control the bacteria and infection in her mouth. Today she finally got Synulox, Michaela doesn't like to inject it because the injectable Synulox is very strong so even at 0.1 ml you overdose but Synulox has a wide safety margin so a slight overdose is very unlikely to hurt the ferret. I wish Rose had had Synulox from the start. I also wish she'd had proper pain control. The Rimadyl/ Norocarp just wasn't strong enough and Michaela didn't give me much because back in January Rose had had a blood test which showed her kidney values were bad so Michaela was worried about Rose's kidneys and the Rimadyl making them worse even though Rose had had another blood test on Thursday to test her kidneys and this time the values were well within normal range.
Sunday 26.2. Rose is somewhat stable. Yesterday, Michaela gave me 1 dose of Rimadyl to inject and last night Rose was in so much pain that I gave it to her... I so wish I had some more for today. I even feel she needs something stronger. If I feel that Rose desperately needs painkiller then I'll get the vet out. But she was good today, I injected her with antibiotic and 10 ml fluids and that went well and then she drank a bit. She likes to drink from the bottle if I squeeze it gently so that drops trickle into her mouth. But we're talking about her drinking a few drops, not a lot... When I let her out, she even tried to drink from the bowl, she opened her mouth and tried to scoop water out, at least she rinsed her mouth well...
Monday 27.2. Rose is back at the vets, Michaela saw how sick she was and decided to put her on a drip. I was dreading getting a phone call like "we've just anaesthetised her and I had a look in her mouth and the infection is so bad that it would be best to have her put to sleep". I told Michaela that I can't take this anymore, seeing Rose in agony, and that I want proper pain medication for her. Hopefully she'll recover and then it'll have been worth it. But it would kill me if she suffered so much only to die in the end.
27.2. Rose is staying at the vets, Michaela is taking her home because Rose needs to stay on the drip and needs medications through the night (11 p.m. / 3 a.m.)... I've *never* had a ferret stay at the vets or away from me. :-( I went to see her and she was on a drip and is getting 2 strong IV antibiotics plus 2 IV painkillers. Rose had had her pain killers when I saw her but she still looked in so so much pain. Head hanging down, eyes closed, shivering (even though her cage was by a radiator plus on a heating pad). I hope she'll make it. I once had a ferret, Bella, with a root abscess and the infection went into her jaw bone and well, she was in so much pain and looked like Rose does now so I hope it's a case of the infection having gone into the bone and just hurting a lot and not being life threatening. Yesterday Rose's head was swollen and looked distorted, she had a swelling over her nose/ top of head and under her jaw/ chin.
Wednesday 1.3. Rose is getting better now. As I said Michaela took her home Monday night and gave her medications through the night and by 3 a.m., Rose had pulled out her IV line but was well hydrated then. She received further medication at the vets and we fetched her Tuesday late afternoon. She was on injectable Baytril, Vetergesic and Carprofen (generic Rimadyl) every 8 hours so at 11 a.m., 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. Plus Flagyl (by mouth...) at 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. So yes, Tuesday night I had to get up at 3 a.m. and inject Rose. ;-) Rose is better now and nowhere near in as much pain as before. She is taking a liquid diet now and has no problem swallowing. Michaela is taking her off the Vetergesic now, she is getting Baytril tablets and Metacam liquid so no more injections! Her scruff is so sore, I mean I have given her 9 injection in 24 hours plus not to mention all the times I had the needle in and she wriggled and the needle came out before I could inject so I don't know how many times she got stuck. So hopefully we will have won this fight.
Since Rose was better, I tried giving her her minced chicken Wednesday night and she wanted to eat it but for some reason it made her tongue bleed really badly again even though the chicken is like puree. I was upset about the apparent set back and decided to keep her on the liquid convalescent diet.
Monday 6.3. Rose is almost back to normal. By Friday or so I stopped giving her the Metacam. She is just on Flagyl now. For people who don't know about Flagyl- ferrets *hate* it! It is very stressful (for both ferret and owner)- and messy- to get Flagyl into a ferret. At first I mixed it with the food. Then I gave Rose yummy Ferretvite before squirting Flagyl into her mouth. Now she gets some liquid diet, then some Flagyl, more liquid diet, more Flagyl etc. But the result is the same, she violently shakes her head, throws tantrums and some Flagyl ends up splattered all over me. ;-) I'll be glad when she comes off that! But it has done the job, it is amazing how well it works.
Rose is even back on her chicken mince. I started giving it to her Sunday night and she happily ate it and her tongue is healed now so it won't bleed anymore. She still gets some liquid diet, too, to build her up. When all this started, Rose practically didn't eat for 4 days. Then she lost a lot of blood when her tongue bled (and it kept bleeding for the first week or so). So by Wednesday last week she was very pale and very thin. But now she's got colour back and is getting stronger.
It's been a real nightmare and stressed me a lot, seeing Rose so ill and in so much pain. I could barely sleep at night because every time I closed my eyes, I saw Rose squirming with pain. But I am glad that we have won this fight. :-)
Update July 2006
[I'm actually updating this September 2007, it was a hard time when Rose died, Willow was very sick, too, and put to sleep 2 days after Rose was put to sleep. So I never got to update any web pages, loosing Willow was devastating for me. Rose had been a bit dodgy for a month or two, just like Willow. No concrete symptoms, just more quiet and she didn't have a good appetite. I thought it was the renal failure getting worse.]
Friday 7th July 2006 turned out to be a bizarre day. I had gone to the vets in the morning with Rose, Gremlin and Willow. Gremlin for a general check-up to see if any meds need adjusting (sheís on Enacard and Furosemide). Then Willow for a check-up to see if anything else needs to be done or can be done. And Rose was in a worse state than Willow. I figured she had ascites. For about 3 weeks or so, her tummy had become bigger. I thought she was putting on some weight. But for the last week or so, I thought no, it is fluid. She ate less and less and her tummy got bigger and bigger. I weigh the ferrets once a month and well, this time I was a bit late but on the 19th of May she weighed 1.02 kg (and she was always very close to that weight) and on 2nd July 1.15 kg.
This last week she noticeably deteriorated and I booked her in for Friday, along with Gremlin and Willow. She was admitted for x-ray and maybe a scan. I was hoping it would be heart disease, her heart beat so fast and strong, like it was thumping. But so far I have never had ferrets with heart disease and abdominal ascites, only with fluid in the lungs. But I had 2 ferrets with pancreatic cancer that had abdominal ascites, Angel and Igor. So part of me thought Rose was seriously ill, the other part was hoping it would be the heart. So I left with Willow and Gremlin and luckily on the way out I remembered to ask to test the fluid. So I said to the receptionist that it may be a good idea to draw out some fluid to have a look whether it is clear or bloody as Angel and Igor had bloody ascites.
So when I got home I had lunch and then I went back out, went shopping and then to fetch Rose. I sat in the waiting room and after a while Michaela came in and asked me to come with her. Theyíd only just started on Rose and taken an x-ray and drawn some fluid off. The fluid was thick with blood and very probably puss. I hadnít expected that and it was like my brain crashed and I thought what now and just automatically said ďso weíll let her goĒ, it was like I was asked a question and needed to come up with the right answer but my brain just wasnít working properly. So I still looked at the x-ray like in a daze while Michaela injected her with the lethal injection. It was just so unreal, I hadnít expected it to happen like this. Then we did the autopsy and the fluid that came out of her abdominal cavity made me feel ill. Well, the liver looked like it was riddled with tumours, there was something on her pancreas I think and blood clots, I think, all over. Michaela took samples of everything, then went into the chest cavity and the thymus (I think) looked awful, like ulcerated. Took pictures of everything. I donít know what could have caused the peritonitis? The intestines were okay. I just couldnít believe how bad she was and she did *not* show symptoms that matched the severity of this. Even Michaela said she didnít look this bad when I brought her in. She even still ate. I have been needing to scruff her to get her to eat but then she ate and if she had refused to eat, there would have been nothing I could have done but she didnít refuse, she still ate. And I put her bad appetite down to kidney failure. The report came back saying there was no cancer and the kidneys were bad enough to have caused some symptoms. Strange because Baby and Fox only lived 2 months once they started showing symptoms of renal failure whereas Roseís renal failure just progressed very slowly and didnít kill her. The report didnít say where the peritonitis came from so a mystery... Just that there was a lot of inflammation going on.
In house blood tests:
Blood test values from 30.01.06
Albumin 25 g/L
Alkaline Phosphatase 70 U/L
ALT 140 U/L
Amylase 157 U/L
Calcium 2.18 mmol/L
Cholesterol 3.5 mmol/L
Creatinine 128 umol/L High
Glucose 6.3 mmol/L
Phosphate 2.46 mmol/L
Total Protein 66 g/L
Urea 16.0 mmol/L High
Blood test values from 23.02.06
ALKP= 44 U/L (9-84)
ALT= 349 U/L (82-289)
CREA= 68 umol/l (35-80)
GLU= 6.51 mmol/l (5.22-11.50)
TP= 58 g/l (52-73)
UREA= 15.6 mmol/l (3.6-16.1)
Rose's pathology report:
Peritonitis and Cardiomyopathy
The submission consists of fixed necropsy samples of multiple tissues from a female ferret ; age not specified.
LIVER: Microscopy reveals mild to moderate, multifocal, periportal infiltrations of mainly mononuclear leucocytes (lymphocytes, plasma cells and a few histiocytes); mild to moderate subcapsular inflammatory infiltrates; patchy, mild hepatocytic lipid vacuolation; and mild to moderate dilatation of the hepatic vasculature, with occasional mild dilatation of periacinar sinusoids. The mucosa of the gall bladder is mildly hyperplastic and moderately inflamed.
KIDNEYS: 2 sections were examined - one from each kidney. These reveal moderately severe, multifocal, chronic interstitial nephritis, at a degree that would probably have been causing clinical evidence of renal dysfunction.
SPLEEN: The red pulp is moderately expanded by a combination of congestion and increased extramedullary haemopoiesis (EMH). The white pulp is mildly expanded. Fairly severe inflammatory changes are evident in attached omentum.
HEART: Sub-grossly, both ventricles appear dilated and there is only a relatively small difference in the thickness the walls of the left and right ventricles (approx 1.5 : 1 - normal should be 2.5 to 3 : 1). Microscopically, however, only very minor changes are evident with little variation in myofibre diameter and only slight anisokaryosis, but no convincing moyfibre necrosis and no inflammation or fibrosis.
LUNG: 2 sections were examined. The pulmonary parenchyma appears hypercellular and moderately congested and there is evidence of alveolar effusion in places. A single small focus of osseous metaplasia is present in one c these sections. This is an incidental finding of no pathological importance.
PANCREAS: The section reveals variable, but in places moderately severe, inflammatory infiltration in the intra- and interlobular connective tissue and there are also fairly severe inflammatory changes in the adjoining mesentery, There is moderate to marked medullary plasmacytosis and sinus histiocytosis in the pancreatic lymph node included in the section.
ADRENAL: 2 sections were examined. One appears largely unremarkable; the other shows evidence of moderate cortical hyperplasia.
INTESTINE: The section examined appears largely unremarkable except for the mesothelial cells lining the seros2 surface, which are prominent and "reactive" in appearance. There is moderate inflammation in the attached mesentery.
MESENTERIC LYMPH NODE: The section reveals moderate medullary plasmacytosis and sinus histiocytosis, wit some erythrophagocytosis. Cortical follicles appear relatively inactive.
MESENTERY: The sections examined reveal patchy, but mostly moderately severe, predominantly mononuclear inflammation, with areas of necrosis and haemorrhage.
DIAGNOSIS: Peritonitis; Cardiomyopathy; Chronic interstitial nephritis.
DISCUSSION: Serious pathological changes were identified in many of the tissues submitted and it is difficult to formulate a single, overall diagnosis. Grossly there is evidence of dilated cardiomyopathy, but the section examine, lacks the degenerative changes that are usually seen in the myocardium of affected hearts, suggesting this may be an early example. Dilated cardiomyopathy is an increasingly recognized condition in ferrets and may be primary (cause unknown) or secondary to an inflammatory process. It usually causes ascites and/or hydrothorax and ascites can then lead to inflammatory changes in the peritoneum, so it is possible the peritonitis in this case was secondary to the cardiomyopathy; however it is alternatively possible that increased vascular resistance in the mesenteric capillary bed due to peritonitis of some other cause led to the cardiac dilatation. The vascular dilatation in the liver was probably secondary to the cardiomyopathy, while the inflammatory changes (cholecystitis and pericholangitis) were probably due to inflammation ascending from the pancreas - part of the overall peritonitis. I am uncertain how the chronic interstitial nephritis fits in; it may be coincidental or it may be part of a generalized inflammatory process in this animal. NOTE: there is a relatively recently recognized condition in ferrets akin to feline infectious peritonitis in cats and also caused by a coronavirus. Although this particular case lacks any characteristic inflammatory changes, I could not rule out this possibility completely.