Inflammatory bowel disease in Ferrets | Vetlexicon
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Inflammatory bowel disease

ISSN 2398-2985


Synonym(s): IBD, Inflammation of the intestinal tract

Introduction

  • A relatively common cause of gastroenteritis.
  • Cause: unknown.
  • Signs: diarrhea, nausea contributing to anorexia, rarely vomiting, weight/condition loss, abdominal pain.
  • Diagnosis: radiography, ultrasonography, hematology, serum chemistries, biopsy.
  • Treatment: aimed at suppressing the immune response in the gut.
  • Prognosis: guarded to poor.
Print off the Owner factsheet on Diarrhoea to give to your clients.

Presenting signs

  • Diarrhea:
    • Often intermittent.
    • Consistency may vary, color may vary.
    • Over time episodes become more frequent with diarrhea more watery.
    • May have melena.
  • Gradual weight loss.
  • Anorexia is intermittent. Some ferrets experience abdominal pain, discomfort, cramping, nausea.
  • Vomiting is uncommon in most cases.

Acute presentation

  • Diarrhea.
  • Abdominal pain, discomfort.
  • May have some dehydration in severe cases.

Geographic incidence

  • Worldwide.

Age predisposition

  • It tends to occur in young or middle-aged adults, and surprisingly, in multi-ferret households although only one animal may be affected.

Cost considerations

  • Diagnostics including bloodwork, imaging.
  • Surgery: exploratory laparotomy with intestinal biopsies may be necessary for definitive diagnosis.

Special risks

  • Anesthesia if surgery for biopsy.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Inflammatory bowel disease is a poorly defined term for an inflammatory disease primarily involving the gastrointestinal tract.
  • The term is commonly used incorrectly. In fact, true IBD is rare in small animals, and the incidence of true IBD in ferrets is unknown. As an example, IBD has never been properly reported in ferrets in a scientific article.
  • Etiology is unknown, although it has been thought to be related to dietary intolerance, hypersensitivity reaction or another aberrant immune response. However, some authors do not consider food allergy as a true IBD. Food allergy or intolerance has not been scientifically proven in ferrets.
  • True IBD in humans and dogs have a genetic predisposition, while this genetic predisposition has not been seen in ferrets.
  • When using the term ferret IBD, we may be referring to a variety of conditions that may show similar clinical and histopathological changes.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Unknown.
  • There is speculation about the role of food, genetics, but factors have not been proven.

Pathophysiology

  • There is inflammation in various layers and sections of the intestinal tract.
  • It is frequently described as lymphocytic/plasmacytic infiltration.
  • Lymphatic tissue is diffuse through much of the small and large bowel in the ferret and may be in varying levels of inflammation.
  • It is postulated that this condition progresses to lymphoma as it does in cats: in clinical practice this seems to happen in a majority of the cases.
  • It has been postulated that the inflammatory condition is actually an early stage of the lymphoma process; this has not been proven.

Timecourse

  • Chronic.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Lennox A M (2005) Gastrointestinal diseases of the ferret. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 8 (2), 213-225 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Perpinan D & Johnson-Delaney C A (2017) Disorders of the Digestive System and Liver. In: Ferret Medicine and Surgery. Ed: Johnson-Delaney C A. CRC Press, USA. pp 159-190.
  • Fox J G, Muthupalani S, Kiupel M & Williams B (2014) Neoplastic Diseases. In: Biology and Diseases of the Ferret. 3rd edn. Fox J G & Marini R P. Wiley Blackwell, UK. pp. 587-625.
  • Maurer K J & Fox J G (2014) Diseases of the Gastrointestinal System. In: Biology and Diseases of the Ferret. 3rd edn. Eds: Fox J G & Marini R P. Wiley & Sons, USA. pp 363-375.
  • Hoefer H L, Fox J G & Bell J A (2012) Gastrointestinal Diseases. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents. 3rd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W. Elsevier, USA. pp 27-45.
  • Burgess M E (2007) Ferret Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Diseases. In: Ferret Husbandry, Medicine and Surgery. 2nd edn. Ed: Lewington J H. Saunders, USA. pp 203-223