Pancreatic Disease in Ferrets

Ferrets, like humans, are susceptible to various diseases. One of the most common sicknesses among ferrets is pancreatic tumors, which develops mostly in ferrets than other domesticated pets. Although this health condition can happen in both young and adult ferrets, ones aged five years and older are more susceptible.

Their pancreas produces essential enzymes that are used to digest food properly. In addition, the pancreas is in charge of the production of insulin, which is the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. When there is not enough supply of insulin, the risk of developing diabetes becomes higher.

For humans, most cases of diabetes are linked to the low supply of insulin. On the other hand, this condition among ferrets is commonly caused by the excessive supply of insulin. As a result, blood sugar levels drop very low, and it can become fatal with the lack of proper treatment.


During the early stages of this condition, your pet ferret will not usually display any alarming symptoms, making this disease seemingly impossible to detect at the beginning. However, there may be “small” signs such as inactivity. Ferrets are known for their high energy and urge to be always on the move. They love to interact and play with both animals and humans. So seeing your pet inactive more often than usual should make you a bit concerned about its overall health.

Another common symptom during early stages is your pet’s unwillingness to interact even with people it regularly plays and bonds with. Instead of interacting, it would prefer to sit in a corner while seemingly engaged in a very deep thought. As stated earlier, healthy ferrets would rather be active than sit and think. The scientific reason behind this irregular behavior is that low blood sugar levels minimize the ability to think clearly. Thus your pet will find it harder to handle its thoughts.

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As the disease becomes more aggressive in time, the symptoms also become more prominent and worse. In addition to becoming more and more inactive to the point that it prefers to be isolated, your pet will start to lose weight. Its appetite will be greatly affected, causing it to be pickier with food. As a result, you will probably struggle in finding alternative food items that will supply the same essential nutrients that are present in its old diet.

Another common symptom displayed during full blown cases is vomiting and drooling. Most of the time, your pet will just vomit even the slightest food it consumes. Your pet will also become uncomfortable with its mouth, often drooling or producing liquids that are visible in the surrounding area.

In advanced cases, blood level reached the extreme low to the point that your pet experiences seizures. When proper treatment is still not given during this stage, the chances of your pet dying is extremely high.


The most effective way to determine if your pet is indeed suffering from pancreatic issues due to excessive production of insulin is by conducting blood tests. Clearly, you must let a competent vet do these procedures. Although it will cost you some money, this is the only way to go if you want to get proper diagnosis and treatment for your pet.

A blood sample from your pet will be required four hours after its last meal. The normal blood level for ferrets is about 80-120mg/dl. Anything above or below that benchmark is considered abnormal and unhealthy. After properly determining that your pet is likely suffering from low sugar level, an additional test is commonly demanded to determine if all organs are healthy and eliminate the possibility that any of these organs is causing the disease. Some test to make sure that there is no infection are also required.

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For more severe cases, an x-ray may also be required to reach proper diagnosis and treatment. Aside from a heart x-ray, the vet may also conduct urine test to evaluate the kidney, and ultrasound procedure to screen for cancer. These procedures will be extremely useful especially if your vet is leaning towards surgery as the best way of treatment.

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