Tuesday 6th of May 2008, Pete came to me, there was a Cath Thomas at the door. I was really excited, my ex boyfriend's mum, I thought the parents had come to visit me, I'd visited them in November 2007. She said she had a problem so I followed her to the road where the car was parked. Pete followed me. I saw it wasn't Cath's husband's car so I sent Pete back to the garage because I figured Daniel was in the car. And he was. He'd found a ferret on the road near his mum's, it had been seen several times and he'd just seen it and thought he'd take it to me. Poor boy, very, very quiet and skinny and full of ticks (hundreds!) and also with many wounds. He couldn't walk well so off to the vets for an x-ray which at least showed there were no breaks so probably just an infection so he got antibiotics. He was frontlined twice (Tuesday and again Wednesday after his bath) and I still had to pick lots of ticks off him. He was so good, falling asleep as I held him and picked ticks off him. He doesn't bite, he's good as gold, a real sweet boy. I've looked at the vets whether anybody has lost a ferret and Daniel has spoken to people where the ferret was found and I even looked online whether anybody lost their ferret. Nothing. How can you have such a gorgeous, gentle, sweet ferret and not miss him? I know I didn't want another ferret but part of me thought wouldn't it be nice if Honey had a friend to play with? Ruby is podgy and doesn't run or play much, Nipper is old and only runs around a little and does his own thing. So Honey is trying to entice Daisy to play with her but she isn't interested and is finding it hard with her balance problem. So Honey quietly/ gently plays a little with Ruby or entertains herself. It would be nice if Snoopy fitted into the group, he'd be perfect for Honey.
Update later on in May 2008
Snoopy was neutered Wednesday the 14th May and then I soon put him with Ruby, Honey, Daisy and Nipper. As I'd anticipated, Honey loved him! :-) All those 2 did was play. I've got a lot of pictures of one of their play sessions here. Ruby didn't mind him and even played a little with him, Snoopy was so gentle with her whereas he knew he could play rougher with Honey. Daisy kept doing her own thing and Nipper just chased him around all the time. Soon Snoopy realised that Nipper's eyesight wasn't so good so he would just lie down in the gras and watch Nipper. When Nipper approached, Snoopy would run away and lie down somewhere else. This continued for a while until Nipper got bored and accepted Snoopy.
Snoopy lying down, watching Nipper
Snoopy and Honey
End of August I took Peanut, Charlie and Franklin in. I partly did it because I knew they would get on with Ruby, Honey and Snoopy. And I was right, Snoopy accepted them straight away and loved playing with Charlie and Franklin (still does) and also with Peanut but mainly the boys.
Snoopy, Franklin and Charlie
Snoopy running :-)
Not much else to write about now, Snoopy is a brilliant ferret, very lovely and playful and also cuddly. Since Snoopy arrived, Daisy, Nipper and (just recently on 27/12/08) Ruby have died. So Snoopy is now "just" with Honey, Peanut, Charlie and Franklin. The whole group is great and is getting me through the hard times.
Snoopy is a really really wonderful, happy ferret. He loves climbing up my trouser legs (on the inside!) and generally loves attention and cuddles. He is extremely playful and entertaining and in my quest to write non-medical updates, I thought I write about Snoopy's interaction with magpies. For the last couple of years or so we have had some really cheeky magpies. I don't know if those are some highly intelligent individuals- or some really stupid ones that could qualify for the "Darwin Awards" of the bird world. Anyway, those magpies thoroughly enjoy watching the ferrets and Snoopy literally rolls on the floor laughing when the birds sit on the fence and move around and watch the ferrets:
Snoopy started looking adrenal spring 2013, he was doing an angry dook a lot of the time and was urine marking a lot. Then his coat started thinning so on 26/06/13 he had a Suprelorin implant. It started working a month later and he grew his coat back. :)
Snoopy July 2010, he looks sooo disproportionate. ;) But I thought this was so cute :)
And now he is really sick. Second week of October I thought his feet were swollen. Then over the following weekend I thought his whole body was puffed up. Then I felt a lump in his lower abdomen, one that was hurting him. And then eventually he did look off colour, too. He acts perfectly normal most of the time, and then he acts like he is in a lot of pain. Took him to the vets 15/10/13 and my vet said he has got oedema all over and she feels it most likely is lymphoma. So he had an x-ray and a needle biopsy a day later which didn't confirm lymphoma but my vet still thought that is what he had. He also either has a big growth by his kidneys (enlarged adrenal gland?) or one kidney is greatly enlarged. When my vet palpated it under anaesthetic and tried to do a fine needle aspirate on this, he moaned. He felt the pain under anaesthetic. :( He's been on prednisolone since, 1 mg/kg. And I wanted him to be on pain relief because I can't bear to see the animals in pain so he's been on Vetergesic since, too. Through all this his appetite was really good and at times I thought the food bowl had become his siamese twin.
Then on 01/11/13 he went off his food. He was really picky and barely ate, to the point where I felt he didn't have enough food in his stomach to give him his pred. So on Saturday 02/11/13 I took him to the vets, I said I felt his behaviour could indicate renal failure as he acted the same way that my CRF ferrets did. The vet on duty did a UREA test strip that showed that his UREA was high, he then had fluids, a shot of dexamethasone (so I wouldn't have to worry about getting pred into him), and a shot of vitamin B12 for good measures. I said in the past there were times where, in hindsight, I thought "I wish we had tried this, that, and the other". So the vet was happy to give him everything. I don't know what helped or if all of it helped but within a day he had his appetite back and although it is not as huge as before, it is stable. He is active and has a good weight and the oedema is pretty much gone.
I still kept wondering about the lymphoma diagnosis. I guess it is part of the denial mode I go in when something bad happens. I thought the growth in his lower abdomen could be an ectopic adrenal tumour like Willow had, and the growth by the kidney could be the enlarged adrenal gland. So I kept feeling for his lymph nodes and eventually (this month, November 2013) I realised that the ones by his hind legs seemed enlarged and hard. Then I felt his neck which was so broad and I couldn't understand why. Then I felt the lymph nodes on his neck and they are *HUGE*. Like marbles. So I have reluctantly accepted that the possibility of him having lymphoma is highly likely. :( I didn't want this to be true because he is such a special boy. All those years he has always climbed up my trouser leg and T-Shirt or pullover to get on top of my shoulder.
Snoopy after he climbed up on my shoulder, June 2011
I hope these pictures show what his oedema looked like:
Wide neck, partly from lymph nodes
Swollen body and hind foot
Swollen hind feet
Swollen front feet
Tigger's normal hind foot for comparison
More pictures of the lump...
Lump 19/11/13 - the bruising went away again before he died...
I had Snoopy put to sleep Tuesday the 26th. He had been doing incredibly well, even on the 25th I thought he will still be here Christmas, he was eating, playing and acting well and happy. Then on the 26th he seemed a bit quiet when his group came out in the morning. I saw him go straight into the bed in the kitchen but I didn't pay close attention and thought I saw him go out of the bed to run around. In hindsight that may have been Honey. When it came to feeding him, he didn't have much of an appetite, only ate his portion with his meds but none of the extra portion. I thought maybe he ate enough dry food and wasn't hungry anymore. But when I gave him his painkiller at 11.00, I could see he was "out of it". He seemed very weak and didn't look good at all. He looked pale to me but there had often been times where I thought he looked anaemic. To test him I put him on the floor where he could barely stay on his legs, he stumbled and fell onto his side, very very weak in the hind legs. I called the vets for an appointment, thinking I need to have him put to sleep. Part of me was hoping he could be turned around again but the other part sort of knew he was not good. He went downhill rapidly over the next 2 hours, when we got to the vets he could not even move anymore, let alone stand. My vet immediately commented how pale he looked. At this point I just wanted him put to sleep to end his suffering. I hoped he wasn't suffering too badly, that he just felt weak and tired. We again injected the euthanasia solution into the abdomen and he went peacefully. His decline came so suddenly and unexpectedly that I am still in shock and denial, maybe I have already suppressed it, I don't know, me writing this it is like I am writing about something that hasn't really happened.
My vet didn't have time for a post mortem so we did it so I could take pictures, the lump that was visible was not in the abdomen, it was under the skin so I feel it must have been a mammary growth. We found the growth by the kidney that had caused him pain even udner anaesthetic. It was quite large and hard. There were a few suspicious areas, his kidneys didn't look great but I have seen worse. I didn't even look closely at the pancreas, I really only looked for abnormal things. And the most abnormal thing we noticed were his lungs. They were almost non-existent. They had shrunk and were a pale colour. My vet said they looked collapsed on the pictures and the pale/ white(ish) colour around the edges was emphysema (?). But ... I have had ferrets with collapsed lungs (upon post mortem) before and their lungs didn't look anywhere near as small... His heart was hard, at least the tip of it. My vet said on the pictures it looked normal size but he may have had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. I didn't send any to the lab though, only tissues of the L and R lung, L and R kidney, the 2 suspicious areas, the abdominal and the mammary growth. Now I hope I got the samles to the vets quickly enough and that they didn't degrade too much before being put into the fixing solution. At this point I don't think he had lymphoma, the big lump I could feel on either side of his neck must have been normal because I felt it on Missy and Finn, too. My guess is adrenal disease with mammary tumour and maybe the adrenal disease caused the anaemia, maybe he had CRF, too. I did read about some adrenal ferrets getting mammary tumours but it's not supposed to happen if the adrenal disease is addressed and he did have a Suprelorin implant end of June and his coat grew back and his behaviour got better (way less adrenal).
Histopathology on Submitted Post Mortem Tissues
Post-Mortem Tissues from a Ferret: 9 samples received; 9 sections evaluated on 3 slides.
Lung (slide 1). Bronchi and bronchioles appear normal, but alveoli are often collapsed (genuine atelectasis or artefact of handling and processing). There are no other remarkable findings.
Pancreas (2 sections, slides 1 and 2). There are several nodular foci of proliferation of slightly enlarged acini without invasion or atypia (nodular hyperplasia; incidental and harmless). No lesions are visible in the endocrine islets. There are no other remarkable findings.
Liver (slide 2). Architecture is normal. Hepatocytes often have mildly lacy to vacuolated cytoplasm (lipid, within histologically normal limits). Bile ductules are sometimes mildly distended by bile (mild cholestasis). There are no other remarkable findings.
Kidney (2 sections, slides 1 and 2). The sections are similar. Many glomerular capillary loops are diffusely or locally expanded by hyaline material, and the capillary lumens often appear poorly perfused. Affected glomeruli frequently show synechial attachments to Bowman's capsule, which is only occasionally and mildly thickened by fibrosis. Proteinaceous fluid distends the lumens of a small minority of renal tubules. Otherwise, no lesions are visible.
Adrenal Mass, per history (slide 3). A multinodular wedge section, approximately 12 x 20 mm, shows two cell populations. One is a population of spindle cells, which are packed tightly into interlacing streams, bundles and swirls. These uniform cells have indistinct borders, moderate amounts of slightly grainy eosinophilic cytoplasm, and a solitary oval to fusiform nucleus. Mitotic figures are scarce, less than 1 per 10 high-power (400x) field. The second population comprises polygonal cells, arranged as nests, packets and islands that are distributed within the spindle cell mass. These polygonal cells have moderately distinct borders and moderately abundant clear to eosinophilic cytoplasm, with a solitary oval nucleus with clear to vesicular chromatin. Mitotic figures do not feature. The polygonal cells are sometimes separated and surrounded by locally abundant, amorphous, clear to pale blue (myxoid) matrix. Sometimes, clusters of the polygonal cells appear to finger into the spindle cell population.
Mammary Mass, per history (slide 3). This section has a background of deep dermis with apocrine sweat glands, adipose tissue (panniculus or subcutis) and striated (skeletal muscle). The adipose layer is extensively infiltrated and effaced by a mass composed of closely-packed polygonal cells, which form irregular tubules, acini, cribriform structures and small islands within an extensive desmoplastic stroma. In some better-differentiated areas, the tubules and acini appear to branch from a central duct (resembling normal mammary architecture) but in other areas, the structures are isolated within the desmoplasia. The cells themselves have moderately defined cell borders, moderate amounts of eosinophilic to amphophilic cytoplasm, and a solitary oval nucleus of medium-large size. There is frequent loss of nuclear polarity. Mitotic figures average 3 per individual high-power (400x) field. Some lymphocytes and plasma cells are present in the stroma, and fibrosis extends into adjacent muscle and isolates some attenuated myocytes.
1. Kidneys: Glomerulonephritis -- diffuse and nearly global, subacute or chronic-active, moderate to marked, with evidence of protein loss
2. Adrenal Mass: Two Tumours -- Leiomyosarcoma, well-differentiated AND Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma, myxoid variant
3. Mammary Mass: Mammary Adenocarcinoma, simple tubular type
4. Liver: Cholestasis -- multifocal and mild
5. Lung: Atelectasis -- extensive, acute or agonal/post-mortem
6. Pancreas: Pancreatic Nodular Hyperplasia -- multifocal
This ferret died with several different disease processes in various tissues. The kidneys show extensive glomerulonephritis, which was probably severe enough to have been clinically important. The cause is not visible in the sections. In ferrets, membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (as here) has classically been associated with Aleutian disease (parvovirus); however, Aleutian disease is quite uncommon and would typically be associated with other lesions such as generalized lymphadenopathy and splenic infarction (lymph nodes and spleen not submitted), plasmacytic infiltrates in many viscera on histology (not seen) and hypergammaglobulinaemia. If other gross post-mortem findings and biochemistry results were compatible, then Aleutian disease should be considered. Otherwise, the glomerulonephritis might be attributable to antigen-antibody deposition of some other cause, for example, chronic inflammation or infection at a site not evaluated on histology.
Adrenal tumours are very common in ferrets. This particular tumour is biphasic, which is not rare in this species. One component is a low-grade malignant neoplasm of smooth muscle origin (leiomyosarcoma). Leiomyosarcomas are quite commonly found attached to the adrenal gland, ovary, or testis of ferrets, though some such tumours seem to be unattached, as if "free-floating" in the abdomen in the suprarenal area. Although classed as malignant based on their cytological features, such leiomyosarcomas in ferrets have not been reported to metastasize and are generally cured by surgical excision, where feasible. The second component is a malignant tumour of the adrenal cortex. Adrenal cortical carcinomas are a well-known malignancy in domestic ferrets. They can be unilateral or bilateral, but seem preferentially to affect the left gland. This ferret's carcinoma appears most compatible with the myxoid variant, an unusually aggressive form of adrenal cortical carcinoma that has been reported in ferrets and in humans. Although metastasis is a rare complication of typical adrenal cortical carcinomas in ferrets, the myxoid variant shows much more frequent metastasis -- almost half of affected ferrets in one study had metastasis. In this case, the tumour cells have invaded the adjacent leiomyosarcoma, but I did not find any evidence of metastasis in the other samples that were submitted. This carcinoma would have carried an unfavourable prognosis.
Mammary neoplasia is generally rare in ferrets, but when it occurs, it is often associated with underlying adrenal disease -- presumably, oestrogens produced by functional adrenal masses stimulate the mammary proliferation. This particular mammary tumour is a malignancy (adenocarcinoma) which has invaded the adjacent subcutis and appears poised to invade muscle. No metastasis is evident in the small sample provided nor in the submitted portion of lung, but this tumour would have carried a risk of both recurrence and metastasis.
The cholestasis in the liver is mild. It might simply reflect anorexia or inappetence associated with illness. Many other causes are possible, but no clue to any other underlying cause is seen here. There is no evidence of primary underlying hepatic disease.
The pulmonary atelectasis is probably an agonal or even post-mortem finding. Unless it was widespread within the lungs, it is unlikely to have been significant.
Finally, there is nodular hyperplasia of the pancreas, a common, benign and incidental finding in mature mammals of many different species.