Chapter 16 Diseases of the Endocrine System
Endocrine disease is common in older ferrets. The organs affected include the pancreas and the adrenal glands. Estrogen excess is covered in Chapter 22.
Adrenal gland disease (hyperplasia, adenoma, or adenocarcinoma) is the most common endocrine problem in older ferrets. Clinical signs include a progressive, symmetric, pruritic alopecia that begins in the rump area and spreads cranially and ventrally (Fig. 16-1). The disease affects both male and female ferrets, with female ferrets being overrepresented. It is estimated that about 70% of female ferrets with adrenal disease will also exhibit vulvar enlargement, and that male ferrets may experience urinary blockage from cystic tissue in the region of the prostate. Surgical treatment is preferred but medical treatment is available, although the prognosis with medical treatment is unpredictable.
Figure 16-1 Hair loss seen in a ferret with adrenocortical tumor.
(From Quesenberry KE, Carpenter JW: Ferrets, rabbits, and rodents, ed 2, St Louis, 2004, Saunders, by permission.)