Welcome to Lakeroad Ferret Farm Rescue/Shelter, Inc.

Q - Brenda, have you ever had a ferret that has seizures? At first I thought it was insulinoma with bad sugar levels. But now I don't think so. It doesn't get lethargic or drool or any of the other sugar level symptoms that I have heard about. And my other female ferret has that.... But he will start having bad spasms and jerking, eyes glaze over, can't walk without falling over. I can usually bring him out of it. But some are worse than others if I don't find him soon enough. It will usually take an extra dose of pred, a bit of honey on my finger, pedialite in a syringe and start giving him real thin soup I. A syringe. After that he is wobblies for a bit then he is just fine... A time or two he has even lost his bowels all over his poor little rear and I have to clean him up.

A - Seizures usually indicate they are in the late stages of insulinoma all the signs you describe are also symptoms of insulinoma - you need to get him in to the vet for a blood glucose test (BG). Yes losing control of his bowels is another symptom of REAL low BG issues. Here is a link for more information on insulinoma.

Q - Hello, my wife and I live in Weedsport, NY. We rescued a ferret from south of Binghamton about a month ago. His name is Rascal. He will be 3 years old in December according to his Marshall birth certificate. He had over 300 fleas on him when we got him.
  We also soon noticed green slimy poop. We had all of the fleas gone within two hours of receiving him. We took him to the Animal Ark in Baldwinsville, where the vet put him on IV's, Amoxi, and Carafate. This did get rid of the bacterial infection. After a little while, his appetite did not seem to be improving and his legs were not getting any stronger. He was still mostly sleeping. We took him back to the vet, who said that he was just in recovery. I mentioned insulinoma and adrenal to the vet (I had been researching online) and the vet told me that I could read a lot of things online, but most people were just overly worried. We brought him back home (After a LARGE bill). After a week nothing had changed. I found ferret groups on Facebook, and Cynthia S recommended that we go to Dr. Edwards in Brockport Animal Hospital
  The experience there was amazing, and the price so much lower than the Animal Ark. It was totally worth the long drive. Dr. Edwards found that Rascal does have Insulinoma. He also said that it is a young age for a ferret to have Insulinoma. He prescribed 1/4 of a pill of 5mg prednisone twice a day. We gave him the first dose smashed and mixed in with all-chicken Beachnut baby food.
  What method do you use for giving this to ferrets? What experience have you had with Insulinoma? What should we look for? How long have you experienced ferrets to live with Insulinoma?
  We have three girl ferrets that haven't had any health problems so far. We have no experience with Insulinoma. We currently are feeding an Evo/Wellness Core food mix with a raw egg yolk once a week and some raw chicken/rabbit for the one girl that will eat it. Rascal's diet currently is Purina One (because that is the only kibble he will eat) and chicken baby food. We are trying to mix the kibble mix that our other kids or on into both of his foods, but he is still eating around it. What kind of a diet should Rascal be on with Insulinoma? We don't feed any treats to our ferrets besides for a small amount of oil every once in a while. Are there healthy treats we could be getting? The only ones I have found at the local pet stores have fruits or vegetables in them. I don't mind looking online... Also, when would be a good time to come and visit? We are available most weekends, and we would love to come visit your Rescue at a time that is convenient for you.

I am attaching a picture of Rascal sleeping and a picture of our girls...
Thank You,
  Shelwyn and Krista B Dooks from all of our kids... Mina, Livia, Buffy, and Rascal

A - That poor baby - what did you use to rid the little one of fleas? Did you add him to your other 3 as soon as you brought him home?
  Any medical person that does not listen and take the clients/patients concern seriously needs to find another vocation. God Bless that girl Cynthia. You have landed onto one of the most amazing ferret vets out there. We call him Magic Fingers Doc and our shelter ferrets call him Our Favorite Doc (OFD).
  He absolutely amazing and yes very affordable. We have been using him as our shelter vet for 20 yrs. Insulinoma was my first thought when I read what you were describing. Pred can and does cause ulcers so it is best to always give Pred in some kind of food - we use Duck Soup here (Ours not the stuff they sell in the store). As I said we use the crush method and put it in the soup - we make our own duck soup.
  Oh my in the 20 yrs we have been sheltering lots and lots Insulinoma in fur kids - we have 7 ferrets that have it at this time. One is only on OUR duck soup 2 times a day, that alone is keeping it under control at this time. One of the girls is on a very low dose of Pred liquid 0.02 mL 2 times a day in soup. The remaining 5 ferrets are getting 1/4 tab crushed in their soup 2 times a day.
  A while back we had a ferret that was getting 1/4 tab morning, at noon 0.02mL and then another 1/4 tab for his evening dose. We kept him going for over a year on 3 doses a day. Again with that much Pred if we had not been putting it in his soup he would have developed an ulcer.
  As for signs to watch for, Rascal may just stop in his tracks and stare off into space, drooling, unable to walk. Insulinoma is a progressive disease so he will progressively get worse but you can keep him comfortable and doing well if you watch him closely. Gnashing of his teeth, means his tummy is upset.
  When they have Insulinoma their glucose levels drop, if they do not eat they drop more, when the BG drop the ferret gets an upset tummy so they do not want to eat. The trick is to keep them eating on a regular basis with high protein food.
  Like I said we make duck soup with the kibble the kids eat here at the shelter.
  How long they live with Insulinoma just depends on you and the kind of time you have at home.. I gave a ferret their med at 4 am, I go to work at 6:30 (I drive school bus) I got home at 8:15 and found him in an Insulinoma crash.. I was able to save him because I found him and was able to intervene. If you work a normal 8 hr day your fur kid will crash and be gone when you get home. So this will depend on you and how closely you can watch the progression of the disease.
  Insulinoma is not IF it is WHEN so keep an eye out for it in your girls.
  Are you using the Purina One Healthy Kitten or the tricolored that is sold in grocery stores? If it is the cheap brand he is going to crash a lot there is too much grain and not enough protein - if he is eating the POHK that is plenty of protein and good for him, we use that in our multi mix of kibble. Just keep doing what you are doing with the kibble, he will eventually get a piece and discover it is food.
  Ferrets imprint on their food as kits - within the first year of their life - if they have not been given a variety in that first year they will not recognize what you put in front of them as food.
  High protein high fat with as little grain as possible - if he is eating the POHK then he is fine, if not we need to get him on that.
  Oil you are speaking about as in ferretone?
  We use the 8 and 1 moist food as treats, we also use Bil-Jac peanut butter treats. They are dog treats but they are a good safe treat for our fur kids. Yes we try to stay away from them sugary treats as well.
  We would be honored to have you drop by for a visit, all you need to do is let us know you are coming and when.. earlier in the day is easier on me.. I shut the shelter down at 4 to the public. We are open to visits all weekends. Just drop us an email that you are coming and what time you expect to be here. I like to set the shelter up so I can spend time with new folks.
  They are beautiful fur kids - I hope this helps - we are here if you need us.

Further reading:
Miami Ferret has multiple articles to view by clicking on the “Insulinoma” link on the left of the page.
Insulinoma in Ferrets by Simon Starkey BVSc, PhD, D.ABVP
What Ferret Owners Should Know about Insulinomas by Dr. Jeff Rhody, DVM