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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 15796
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Hello, I have a 6y.o. ferret with these symptoms last night:

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Hello, I have a 6y.o. ferret with these symptoms last night: strong convulsions, heavy breathing and ocasional screaming, recedeed with honey and water but has gone limp and is irresponsive since. Could it be insuloma?

Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help with your concerns about your little one.

The symptoms he is displaying and his response to treatment with honey are fairly classic for an insulinoma. I do recommend a urinalysis, full blood count and biochemistry panel though as other causes of low blood sugar, including liver disease and a severe infection need to be looked for as possible causes as well. I also recommend these further tests because we want to be aware of other health issues if they are present as it may influence how we choose to treat him.

It may be difficult to see insulinoma tumor(s) on the pancreas, especially for someone that isn't used to looking for them. In most cases however we don't need an ultrasound for a diagnosis, although it may be helpful to evaluate him for metastases to his liver, spleen and lymph nodes. We can usually diagnose an insulinoma however by the symptoms and if his resting blood sugar is less than 70mg/dl.

I understand that you are taking him to a specialist tomorrow, and they will certainly help with diagnosis and therapy options, but you need to keep him stable in the meantime.

You should be feeding him a high quality food high in protein and fat and low in simple carbohydrates in small amounts every couple of hours to keep his blood sugar levels consistent. If he becomes symptomatic it is OK to use glucose sources like honey or karo syrup to quickly get his blood sugar up but as sugars stimulate insulin release in general we want to avoid them. Try to keep him quiet and keep his stress levels down to reduce calorie needs.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello again, I am mainly concerned about the fact that he is totally limp and does not make any effort to move in any way since the episode more than 12 hrs ago. I am giving him water via a syringe, which he will take, he has passed urine but not faeces. Besides his limpness, he does have very slight contractions of the limbs which seem to go with his heartbeat. Should I try liquid food such as chiken soup or some kind broth?


Thank you

I'm sorry I did not understand that he has become totally limp. My understanding was that he was weak but able to move and was mentally aware. I am very concerned for him give your description. The "muscle contractions" you are seeing could be due to hypoglycemia or mineral or electrolyte imbalances.

Is he mentally unaware?

If not trying to get any food in him could lead to aspiration pneumonia and worsen his prognosis.

If he is mentally aware and just seems very weak you could try meat baby foods via a syringe, or Hills prescription a/d every hour.

I would call the specialist and ask if he can be admitted now as an emergency as they could at least get him on fluids and stabilized even if they cannot fully evaluate him until tomorrow. I am very worried for your little guy.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

His eyes are open with some blinking once in a while, breathing is regular and seems relaxed, but is not aware of anything and does not respond to sound or touch and has no conscious or voluntary movement.

Blood sugar levels were normal this morning according to the vet, but I did give him a good amount of honey throughout the night. She did not run full tests either as they take time here to get the results and is not a specialist in ferrets.

There is no emergency service in my area, taking him to the faculty is already going to be a trip.

I hope he makes it through the night, but it's not looking too good...

Thank you

I'm so very sorry to hear that you are in this spot with him. If he was getting honey all night his glucose readings may indeed have been affected. Or it is possible that he has severe liver disease or a systemic infection. If he makes it the specialist should be able to tell you more.

Given what you have told me about his condition I am worried about aspiration pneumonia if you try and force feed him, but it would be nice to get some calories in. You could put a dot of meat baby food on his tongue and see if he can swallow it. If he doesn't then I don't recommend forcing anything else in.

Keep him warm and quiet, and use honey on his gums if he appears to start seizure activity. Try not to give anything for 4 hours before his specialist visit if possible.

Please let me know how things turn out for your little one.

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