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Hyperadrenocorticism in ferrets


Ferrets are becoming more and more popular, and all owners of ferrets must know what is hyperadrenocorticism.

Hyperadrenocorticism is one of the most common reasons for visits to the vet. This disease is usually observed in ferrets aged from one to seven, but most often in the ferret, which is at least three years. If you see signs of illness, you should be able to overcome the problem before it progresses too far. This article will give you an introduction to what is causing hyperadrenocorticism, its signs and some potential ways of treatment.

Hyperadrenocorticism simply means one part of the expansion of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are responsible for production of many hormones including epinephrine, cortisol (“stress hormones”), and sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone). It is believed that the onset of symptoms in ferrets caused by increase of the number of cells producing hormones, and then increasing the amount of sex hormones in the body.


Do not confuse this disease with hyperadrenocorticism in dogs, cats or humans. In dogs, cats and human disease called “Cushing’s” and causes an increase in cortisol levels, not sex hormones. Thus, ferrets hyperadrenocorticism greatly different even if the same name is!

There are two reasons for increasing the adrenal glands: a simple enlargement of the prostate, or cancer of the prostate. Fortunately, prostate cancer is quite rare. The reasons for the expansion of the adrenal glands are not known, although research indicates several potential situations that could lead to an expansion. Possible influencing factors include genetics, prolonged periods of light, and early spaying / neutering. Also hyperadrenocorticism ferrets can be more likely insulinoma (insulin cancer cells) than in healthy ferrets.

Hyperadrenocorticism symptoms

The most striking feature of hyperadrenocorticism in ferrets is hair loss. This hair loss usually begins near the tail and moving forward on the stomach and back. Your ferret may or may not be itchy. Other possible symptoms include lethargy (tiredness) and muscle atrophy. Such a ferret will decrease muscle mass and may pucker on his belly, as the abdominal muscles begin to weaken. Moreover, very often in female ferrets observed swelling of the vulva. No reasons due to sterilize ferret with a swollen vulva. Male ferrets can become more aggressive and sexual behavior to express.

Options available

If your ferret diagnosis of hyperadrenocorticism, you have several options. This disease is not fatal, and your ferret can really survive without treatment. However, keep in mind that it will gradually become more and more painful and uncomfortable, because the symptoms will worsen. You may have to deal with other problems caused by the disease. You and your veterinarian can decide about medical treatment of the disease.


Medicine aims and kills cells of the adrenal cortex, to significantly reduce the size of the prostate.


The third main method of treatment – surgery. Removal of the adrenal (two glands in the body, and after the operation will be one normal body iron) is the most common solution. As a rule, it’s just surgery, but it is more complicated if struck right and not the left. If your ferret exhibits any of the above symptoms, you should take him to the vet. Although these symptoms, especially hair loss, are classic hyperadrenocorticism, any of these symptoms may indicate a variety of other issues that also need to be considered.

If you will quickly begin treatment of this disease, many of the symptoms may be reversible, and it is likely that your ferret will live a long and happy life. There is a low risk that this problem persists after treatment. Therefore, the owners of ferrets should be aware of this possibility, as with age in their ferret can develop hyperadrenocorticism. If you recognize the symptoms (such as hair loss), you and your veterinarian will have more possibilities of surgical treatment of your ferret !