What Is It?
Adrenal disease is most commonly hyperplasia or a benign tumor. It is not
Cushing's Disease; adrenal disease in the ferret affects a different part of the adrenal gland than it affects in dogs (which do
get Cushing's Disease). Thus, treatment for Cushing's Disease (that is, Lysodren or Mitotane) does not work in ferrets with adrenal disease.
In adrenal disease in the ferret, the adrenal gland produces a lot of sex hormones (in Cushing's Disease in the dog, the adrenal produces a lot of cortisol). It's this overproduction of sex hormones that causes the signs and symptoms we see in adrenal disease.
Sometimes a female ferret may have ovarian remnants: some small bit of ovarian tissue left over from spay surgery. This can produce symptoms similar to adrenal disease. However, if your ferret is more than two or three years old, the odds are that the problem is adrenal disease and not an ovarian remnant.
Sometimes adrenal tumors can be malignant, but this is not nearly as common as benign tumors. However, just because the tumor is benign doesn't mean you don't have to treat it. Adrenal disease is not merely a cosmetic condition. It needs to be treated.
What Are The Symptoms?
These are the "classic" signs of adrenal disease:
Swollen Vulva (females):
Sexual or Aggressive Behavior (usually males):
Weight and Muscle Loss:
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