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How to treat ferret adrenal disease

How to treat ferret adrenal disease?

Some of the old ferrets around the age of 3-7 years or between may affect by an adrenal disease which is a common syndrome. Ferret’s body contained adrenal glands that release hormones. That control different functions of the body from water and electrolyte balance. So when a ferret suffered a disease that actually means the adrenal glands are overproducing of sex hormones. Let’s know how to treat ferret adrenal disease?

Treatment for ferret’s adrenal disease?

The major cause of excessive growth (hyperplasia) of the adrenal glands. But tumors (malignant and benign) are also seen. Spreading outside of the immediate area of adrenal tumors is uncommon. As they can grow invasively into the blood vessels or internal organs near the tumor’s origin.

Before the treatment of adrenal disease, you should be aware of the whole system that works in the ferret’s body. As the adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system. They consist of cortex and medulla and their work is to regulate the stress response through the synthesis of (corticosteroids and catecholamine). There are symptoms of the disease that started to show in the pet ferret. Here is the solution to treat ferret adrenal disease.

Symptoms of adrenal disease in ferrets

Even you have spayed or neutered your ferret. But in every season of mating the animal’s body still releases sex hormones. So most of the signs are the same that would be seen in breeding animals. The problem arises when they don’t stop and progressively grow more disruptive. Which causes increased sexual aggression like males often grab and drag females by the neck.

They also face certain problems in ferrets like; hair loss (alopecia). Especially starting with the tail and rump, vulva swelling (in females). Enlarged prostate makes difficulty urinating (in males), pruritus (itchiness), muscle atrophy, thinning of the skin and lethargy.

Causes of adrenal disease in ferrets

The adrenal disease mostly occurs at age 4 or above. But in some instances, it has been reported that ferrets get sick of this under 1 year of age.

  1. Lack of Melatonin

The main cause of disease in the ferret can be a genetic predisposition to adrenal tumors. But also a lack of sufficient melatonin to develop adrenal tumors. Melatonin prevents the pituitary glands along with many other functions, from overproducing hormones. Which can cause adrenal disease in the ferret’s body.

  1. Luteinizing hormone cause irritation

These hormones can cause irritation to the adrenal glands that can develop tumors. These hormones are controlled by melatonin from overproduction in the ferret’s body.

  1. Follicle Stimulating hormone

The follicle-stimulating hormone also contributes (but lesser to an extent) to the formation of adrenal tumors. When imbalance and tumors can grow on either the left or right adrenal gland or both glands.


  • Clinical signs
  • Ultrasound–a non-invasive way of visualizing the internal organs
  • Blood sampling of hormone levels

There is no specific test to test adrenal disease. But the blood test can identify other health problems that may be present in the ferret’s body cause of this disease. Ultrasound may not be much helpful to detect the enlargement of the gland. As it cannot see through. However, an experienced vet can check physically the enlarged gland if the gland is large enough.

To diagnose the ferret properly it is needed to have exploratory surgery by the surgeon. Who will check it visually the color and the texture of gland but that procedure will be costly. So it’s better to rely on the symptoms above mentioned to diagnose the ferret for the adrenal disease.

Treatment of adrenal disease in ferrets

This disease can be treated well and recover your ferret soon. While there are many medical treatments available for ferrets for those who do not want surgical treatment for their pet. In most cases ferret gets well through the medical therapies and eliminates all the clinical signs of adrenal disease such as (dermatitis and hair loss). But this is not the cure. Because the effectiveness of medical therapy depends on the level of formation of hormones in diseased adrenal glands.

You should keep in mind that such therapies can only suppress the continuity of adrenal growth and tumor development. Which can cause more trouble in the future so these are diagnosed. The most common drug treatment option is Lupron. Which is given by injection once monthly until clinical signs are resolved and repeated if signs recur in the ferret.

Medical treatment of adrenal disease

  1. Deslorelin

The medical management of the adrenal disease includes deslorelin acetate implant which is similar to Lupron. It mimics GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) and blocks adrenal stimulation for producing hormones.

As compared to the older medicine Lupron this new medicine sustain up to 2 years in the average ferret. This also has the efficiency of shrinking the adrenal tumors or slow down their growth. The vets are facing issues since the last updated (5 years ago) availability of deslorelin is a backorder and cause a problem.

  1. Melatonin

This drug is injectable and implant in the ferret’s body under the skin of shoulder blades which is a rice size ferretonin. The natural inhibitor GnRH, melatonin produces the (LH and FSH) to reduce the negative effect on the adrenal glands of the ferret. This implant usually brokes into the ferret’s body and removes the symptoms like (hair loss) and repeated elimination when it recurs.

  1. Lupron

This is an older and most common drug which is used to mimic the effects of hormones called GnRH and stops the body from producing these hormones by leuprolide acetate. These hormones injections decrease the stimulation of the adrenal glands and usually repeated once every 4-8 weeks.

Whether the medicine eliminates all the possible signs of adrenal disease. But is unable to affect the enlarge size of glands which is continues increasing. So as then in some cases, malignant tumors also can be developed because of increasing the adrenal gland. You can only get rid of the disease completely from the ferret through a surgical procedure.

Surgical management of adrenal disease

Surgery allows the deep inspection of the diseased glands of ferrets. As well as the internal organs of the animal while it is preferred to remove the affected gland through surgery. If the surgeon finds both the glands are affected he will remove both glands. If it detects any other abnormality it can be treated at the same time.

When the surgery takes place it is easy to remove the left adrenal gland without complication. But if the right gland also needed to remove then it’s a bit difficult. Because the major blood vessel called the caudal vena cava is near the right gland and should be removed carefully.

Cryosurgery—cure for adrenal disease in the ferret

The cryosurgery may be used to remove the gland without the risk of hemorrhage in ferret while treating adrenal disease. This surgery is successful in most cases and can cure your ferret. Whereas in rare cases the re-growth of adrenal mass may occur in ferret’s body.

There are many drugs are available to treat adrenal diseases in animals and humans also like (mitotane, ketoconazole or streptozocin) for the treatment of hyperadrenocorticism. But these medicines are not effective for the ferrets because it treated the different layer in the adrenal cortex that is not affected by ferret adrenal disease. So the surgery is the best option to keep your ferret free from disease and live longer.

Prevention of adrenal disease

You can prevent the adrenal disease in ferrets by keeping them in the natural light as seasonal daylight hours with lighting the house. You should keep the lights on while its day and turn off the lights in the night. Most people work in the day time and give time to their pets in the evening because of their daily schedule especially in winter.

Some people think bringing home ferrets unaltered directly from the breeder and altering them at the age of 6 months can reduce the chances of adrenal disease.

Whereas there is nothing correlate to this. As some people tell that the sheltered ferrets coming from breeders were only altered at 3-5 years old. Also seen them also develop adrenal disease in ferrets.


The treatment of the adrenal disease can be by medicine. As some people do not like the surgeries for their pet but it is the truth that the drugs cannot cure the disease but stops the stimulation for some time.

Whereas the surgery is the best option to treat adrenal disease by removing the affected gland or in some cases both the glands of the ferret. This will cure the ferret and recover him soon without having issues further in the future though it is a bit expensive but not more than your loving pet.

It’s better if you have a ferret you should be required to spay or neuter them at the early age of 4-6 months. So the adrenal disease won’t come into seen. It’s better to keep them in a cool place so their adrenal glands may not effect by the heat.

The article is based on facts and figures to teach the visitors regarding the ferret disease. Stay tuned with us to learn more.

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