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Collapse

ISSN 2398-2985

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Introduction

  • Cause: etiology can be due to many reasons. Clinical presentations of weakness and collapse in ferrets are often due to systemic illness and chronic disease; often the animal presents once the disease process is advanced.
  • Signs: report that animal has had ‘a funny turn’. Other presenting signs may be reported depending on the underlying cause, eg salivation, glazed look and pawing at mouth, hypoglycemia associated with insulinoma. Other signs may include chronic weight loss, diarrhea, pallor, weakness, unresponsive.
  • Diagnosis: thorough history and physical examination. Minimum database to include hematology, biochemistry and urinalysis. Other tests depending on history and examination. Radiography of small animals often indicated to investigate trauma.
  • Treatment: supportive care. Treat underlying condition.
  • Prognosis: depends on underlying causes.

Presenting signs

  • Often the animal has recovered, and the client reports a collapsing incident.
  • Disorientation.
  • Weakness.
  • Unresponsive.
  • Pale mucous membranes.
  • Changes to heart rate and rhythm.
  • Other signs associated with the underlying cause, eg vulvar swelling, petechial or ecchymotic hemorrhages, systolic murmur, vulvar discharge and pallor in female entire ferrets with extended hyperestrogenism.

Acute presentation

  • Collapse.
  • Unresponsive.
  • Pale mucous membranes.
  • Bradycardia/tachycardia.
  • Diarrhea/melena.
  • Fecal/urine staining.

Cost considerations

  • Often present as an emergency and requires immediate emergency treatment and stabilization.
  • Cost of appointment, hospitalization, diagnostic work-up to determine and address the underlying cause(s) and potential treatment protocols all must be considered.
  • Cost of resuscitation to be considered.
  • Cost of life-saving treatment, such as blood transfusion, must be considered.

Special risks

  • Handling may exacerbate stress in an already compromised animal.
  • If the animal is collapsed, emergency respiratory care should be provided prior to undertaking a complete physical examination.
  • Anesthesia may be essential but carries a significant risk in an already compromised animal.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Can be challenging to establish etiology; often requires many diagnostic tests which often yield negative results. Achieving a definitive diagnosis may not be possible for some cases.

Cardiovascular (heart disease)

  • Arrhythmia (cardiac arrhythmias, including conduction disturbances):
    • Bradycardia.
    • Tachycardia.
  • Output failure:
  • Hyperviscosity syndromes such as polycythemia:
    • Polycythemia vera (primary erythrocytosis) has been reported.
    • In another report extreme tetralogy of Fallot with polycythemia has been described.
  • Severe blood loss, for example bleeding from trauma, eg dog bite wounds.

Musculoskeletal

Neurological

  • Seizure Seizures.
  • Botulism (uncommon but reported in ferrets) Botulism.
  • Idiopathic vestibular syndrome (rarely described in ferrets).
  • Otitis media or interna .
  • Infectious:
  • Intracranial disease:
    • Neoplasia: osteoma arising from the skull and myoblastoma have been reported in ferrets .
    • Neuronal vacuolation (reported in one ferret).
    • Trauma Trauma overview.
    • Inflammation.
    • Toxic.
    • Metabolic.
    • Hemorrhage.

Metabolic disease

  • Hypoglycemia Hypoglycemia:
    • Hypoglycemia caused by insulin-secreting tumor (insulinoma Insulinoma) is an important differential diagnosis for ferrets.
    • Other differentials for hypoglycemia include rapidly multiplying neoplastic cells, severe hepatic disease, starvation, sepsis or iatrogenic insulin overdose.
  • Hypercalcemia Hypercalcemia.
  • Hypocalcemia Hypocalcemia.
  • Hypokalemia.
  • Hypo-/hypernatremia.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (possible in ferret, although diabetes mellitus is uncommon).
  • Uremia.
  • Anemia: estrus-induced anemia Anemia overview.
  • Polycythemia.
  • Phaeochromocytoma.
  • Hypothyroidism (very rare).
  • Hyperadrenocorticism Hyperadrenocorticism / hyperandrogenism: advanced stages of disease can cause collapse in ferrets, eg hyperkalemia and azotemia due to partial or complete urinary blockage caused by prostatic enlargement and periurethral cysts.
  • Hyperthermia: heat stress Heat stress.
  • Hypothermia Hypothermia.
  • Pregnancy toxemia.

Respiratory disease

  • Hypoxia: severe pulmonary disease.
  • Ventilation perfusion mismatch: pulmonary thromboembolus.
  • Airway stenosis:
    • Laryngeal paralysis.
    • Brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome.
  • Airway obstruction:
    • Neoplasia.
    • Foreign body.
  • Pleural space disease.
  • Neoplastic disease.

Gastrointestinal disease

Urogenital disease

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.
  • van Zeeland Y R A & Schoemaker N J (2022) Ferret cardiology. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 25 (2), 541-562 PubMed.
  • Dias S, Planellas M, Canturri A & Martorell J (2017) Extreme tetralogy of fallot with polycythemia in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Top Comp Anim Med 32 (2), 80-85 PubMed.
  • Le K, Beaufrère H, Bassel LL, Wills S, Laniesse D, Blois SL & Smith DA (2016) Diagnosis and management of polycythemia vera in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Comp Med 66 (6), 463-467 PubMed.
  • Vilalta L, Espada Y, Majó N & Martorell J (2016) Liver lobe torsion in a domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo). J Exotic Pet Med 25 (4), 321-326 VetMedResource.
  • Powers L (2009) Bacterial and parasitic diseases of ferrets. Vet Clin Exot Anim 12 (3), 531-561 PubMed.
  • Diaz-Figueroa O & Smith MO (2007) Clinical neurology of ferrets. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 10 (3), 759-773 VetMedResource.

Other sources of information

  • Huynh M & Piazza S (2021) Musculoskeletal and neurologic diseases of ferrets. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 4th edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E, Orcutt C J, Mans C & Carpenter J W. Elsevier, USA. pp 117-130.
  • Morrisey J K & Malakoff R L (2021) Cardiovascular and other diseases of ferrets. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 4th edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E, Orcutt C J, Mans C & Carpenter J W. Elsevier, USA. pp 55-70.
  • Schoemaker N J & van Zeeland Y R A (2021) Endocrine diseases of ferrets. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 4th edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E, Orcutt C J, Mans C & Carpenter J W. Elsevier, USA. pp 77-91.