Article  Video  Webinar 

Restraint & Handling of Small Exotic Companion Mammals Webinar

Restraint of exotic companion mammals is a challenging but necessary part of veterinary practice. In this live, interactive, R.A.C.E.-approved webinar, Ms. McClellan reviews the approach to predator and prey species as well as the principles of capture and restraint of several species of small exotic companion animals in a hospital setting…

Article 

Urethral Obstruction in the Ferret

Although the overall incidence of urethral obstruction is probably low, this condition is an important reason for emergency presentation of the male ferret. n the United States, urethral obstruction is most frequently caused by…

Article 

Helicobacter in Small Mammals

In 1985, a spiral-shaped microorganism was isolated from the duodenal ulcer of a ferret. Since that time, gastritis and peptic ulcers have been routinely reported in ferrets. In fact one of the reasons ferrets are kept as laboratory animals, is for the study of Helicobacter mustelae…

Article 

Urolithiasis in Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents

Urolithiasis is characterized by single or multiple calculi throughout the urinary tract or by the presence of sandy material within the bladder and urethra. Uroliths are fortunately more of a historical disease in the ferret, while calculi are still an important problem in rabbits and rodents.

Differential Diagnosis List 

Differential Diagnosis in Ferrets

Although some diseases are merely arranged alphabetically, other lists are based on the mnemonic acronym DAMNIT. This commonly used veterinary medical record scheme divides disease mechanisms into the following categories: degenerative, anomalous, metabolic, neoplastic or nutritional; infectious, inflammatory, idiopathic, immune-mediated, or infarct/vascular; and traumatic or toxic. Exercise professional judgment when evaluating this information. Differential Diagnosis in Ferrets is designed as an aide or reminder system for use by qualified veterinarians and should never be used for diagnostic decision-making.

Article 

Analgesia in Small Mammals

As in other species, to manage pain successfully, one must know when pain might occur. Several common medical disorders can result in acute pain such as otitis, conjunctivitis, and acute gastrointestinal disease. Chronic pain can arise from conditions such as arthritis, which commonly develops in older…

Article 

Ectoparasite Control in Small Mammals

A variety of agents may be used in small mammals with ectoparasites. Download this easy-to-use table for a list of agents used to manage lice, flea infestation, mange or acariasis.

Article 

Clinical Pathology for Exotic Small Mammals

Small mammals, such as rabbits and rodents, are stoic by nature and have evolved to mask their illness to avoid predation. This behavior can create a false sense of security in owners and a clinical challenge for veterinarians. In some cases, an animal that appears clinically normal may in fact have a terminal illness. Use hematology and biochemistry analysis to characterize the true physiological status of these species and aid in disease diagnosis.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Diarrhea in the Ferret

Diarrhea is the most common clinical sign in ferrets with gastrointestinal disease, with the exception of gastrointestinal foreign bodies where anorexia and weight loss are the primary presenting complaints. Important causes of diarrhea in young ferrets include coccidiosis and rotavirus. Ferrets of all ages may be afflicted with Helicobacter gastritis, ferret enteric coronavirus, and stress-induced diarrhea while middle-aged to older ferrets may suffer from inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal lymphoma. Although signalment, history, and physical exam findings may be sufficient to reach a tentative diagnosis, additional diagnostics may include cytology such as fecal parasite testing, and imaging. Treatment will vary with the specific condition identified but frequently includes…

Article 

Feeding the Hospitalized Small Mammal

Providing nutrition to the hospitalized small mammal is a fairly straightforward process. Encourage owners to bring their pet’s “regular” diet to minimize the risk of food refusal or gastrointestinal upset. Also consider keeping the following food items available…

Article 

Cardiac Disease in Ferrets

Cardiac disease is common in middle-aged and older domestic ferrets. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common heart disorder in older ferrets, however hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and valve conditions also occur in the ferret. Clinical signs range from asymptomatic disease to fulminate heart failure with problems such as anorexia, weakness, and dyspnea.

Article 

Pancreatic Beta Cell Tumors in the Ferret

There is no cure for insulinoma. If the ferret lives long enough, eventually it will reach a point where clinical signs cannot be controlled and euthanasia will need to be selected to address quality of life issues.

Article 

Physical Examination of Small Exotic Mammals

Physical examination in exotic small mammals is performed similarly to examinations in dogs and cats, however many small mammals can easily become stressed. Approach these patients calmly, gently, and quietly. Gather all items that may be needed during the physical exam beforehand since it is essential to keep time to a minimum. Ideally schedule examination of nocturnal species such as sugar gliders, rats, and mice during the evening hours. It can also be helpful to dim the lights while examining these species.

Article 

Fluid Administration in Exotic Companion Mammals

The principles of fluid therapy are basically the same in exotic companion mammals as in other species. The biggest difference is that changes can occur very rapidly in these tiny patients. For instance, fluids should almost always be warmed or your patient will cool down quickly. Intraosseous or intravenous fluids can be heated with…

Article  Quiz 

Lymphoma in the Ferret: An Overview of Diagnosis and Treatment

Lymphoma is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases in the domestic ferret. In one large study by Li et al, lymphoma was the third most common neoplasm seen in 574 ferrets after adrenal disease and insulinoma. Although a possible retroviral etiology has been proposed, no virus has yet been identified.

Article 

Gastrointestinal Disease in the Ferret

The ferret is a carnivore with a short, simple gastrointestinal tract and a relatively rapid gastrointestinal transit time. Diarrhea is the most common clinical sign in ferrets with gastrointestinal disease, with the exception of gastrointestinal foreign bodies where anorexia and weight loss are the primary presenting complaints.

Article 

Venipuncture in Small Mammals

Hematological and serum chemistry tests are considered part of the minimum database, yet collecting blood samples from small mammals can be extremely challenging. To become proficient in small mammal venipuncture, understand the anatomic location of the vessels and their associated landmarks and then practice, practice, practice. Veterinary health professionals should also be aware of the potential risks associated with blood collection from these small species, especially those presenting in advanced diseased states.

Article 

Adrenocortical Disease in Ferrets

Hyperadrenocorticism is a common and complex clinical condition in the pet ferret. This disease occurs most frequently in ferrets three years or older but has been reported in animals as young as one year of age. Presumptive diagnosis of adrenal disease in the ferret is based on history, clinical signs, imaging diagnostics, and steroid hormone analysis. While surgical therapy is the treatment of choice, palliative medical management typically relies on use of the GnRH analogs, leuprolide acetate or deslorelin.

Article 

Sexing or Gender Determination in Small Mammals

External reproductive anatomy is obvious in some adult small mammals such as the ferret, sugar glider, hedgehog, rat, guinea pig, and hamster. Gender determination or sexing can be challenging in some species like the chinchilla, and in many neonatal rodents. In these cases, reliance on anogenital distance or the distance between the rectum and the urogenital region is considered best practice.

Article 

Assessing the Sick Ferret

The average small animal veterinarian may easily become comfortable with ferrets. Ferrets are hardy and relatively stoic, and as members of the order Carnivora, ferrets are predator species that approach the world in a manner similar to cats and dogs. A relatively small number of medical problems are seen very commonly in ferrets. Careful study of these conditions and attention to the unique aspects of ferret anatomy and behavior will prepare the veterinarian for basic emergency care of the ferret.

Article 

Mange in Exotic Small Mammals

Most species of mites are host-specific, however take special precautions, such as wearing exam gloves, to minimize the spread of potentially zoonotic pathogens. Humans that become infested with Sarcoptes scabei may develop wheals, vesicles, papules, and intense pruritus. Pet owners, especially children, may become infected with…

Article 

Small Mammal Dental Formulas: Cheat Sheet

Can’t quite recall the dental formula of the African pygmy hedgehog–or perhaps you never knew? Use LafeberVet’s “Small Mammal Dental Formulas: Cheat Sheet” as a quick and easy clinical resource.

Article  Presenting Problem  Quiz 

Presenting problem: Cardiac Dysrhythmia in the Ferret

Have you ausculted an arrhythmia in a ferret. Now what? Cardiac dysrhythmias can encompass a wide range of clinical syndromes that vary in significance and signs.

Do you consider ferret arrhythmias a cinch? Take our quiz to confirm you’re ready to auscult in a pinch!

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Urethral Obstruction in the Ferret

Urethral obstruction is an important reason for emergency presentation of the male ferret. If not corrected, obstruction can result in severe metabolic disturbances, coma, and death.

Signs of complete urethral obstruction are usually not very subtle. Ferrets may strain violently or cry when attempting to urinate. Owners may misinterpret the straining observed as “constipation”, and tenesmus may even lead to diarrhea in some cases. Occasionally, a ferret with blockage will present for lethargy, weakness, anorexia, and even collapse without obvious signs of dysuria although the urinary bladder will be…

Article 

Pain Management in Small Mammals

This brief article was created to serve as a synopsis of LafeberVet’s longer, more detailed “Analgesia in Small Mammals” authored by veterinary anesthesiologist, Dr. Paul Flecknell.

Article 

Mammary Tumors in Small Mammals

An important differential for lumps and bumps: Mammary gland tumors are relatively common in rats and mice, and are also seen in African pygmy hedgehogs and guinea pigs. Get the facts about mammary tumors in small mammals. Review diagnostics, management, prognosis and prevention of this important condition.

Article 

Thoracocentesis in Ferrets

Exotic animal care is frequently a balancing act between concepts true for all medicine and species-specific information. Management of pleural effusion in the ferret relies on the same tests and treatments used in dogs and cats, including chest taps when indicated.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Fever of Unknown Origin in the Ferret

Disseminated idiopathic myofasciitis (DIM) is a severe inflammatory disease that primarily affects skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles as well as surrounding connective tissues. This recently identified disease typically affects young ferrets, less than 18 months of age. The cause of DIM is unknown, but this condition is suspected to be an acquired immune-mediated disease. The onset of DIM is usually acute to subacute, followed by a rapid decline over 12-36 hours. The most prominent clinical signs include a high fever ranging from…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Upper Respiratory Signs in the Ferret

Clinical signs of upper respiratory tract disease in the ferret can include congestion, sneezing, oculonasal discharge, and non-specific signs of illness, such as reduced appetite, lethargy, and weight loss. If disease extends lower into the respiratory tract, cough, tachypnea, and…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Vaccine Reaction in Ferrets

Pet ferrets are routinely vaccinated against canine distemper virus and rabies virus. Anecdotally, hypersensitivity reactions to vaccines are common in the ferret, and can potentially be fatal.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Neurologic Deficits in Ferrets

Unfortunately, neurologic disease is a common presenting problem in the ferret. Neurologic deficits may include an altered level of consciousness, paresis, ataxia, or even pelvic limb paralysis or collapse.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Dyspnea in Ferrets

Initial management of the dyspneic ferret should include supplemental oxygen delivered via face mask (with the diaphragm removed) or by sitting the patient in an oxygen-rich environment. If the patient’s response to oxygen therapy alone is poor, additional therapy may be indicated…

Article 

Radiology in the Ferret

In many ways, radiographic anatomy of the ferret is similar to that seen in dogs and cats. Unique features include the…

Article 

Basic Husbandry: Hospitalizing Non-Traditional Pets

No single hospital environment can meet the needs of every exotic animal and caging systems must be tailored to meet the specific needs of each patient. Read about those caging requirements that remain constant among exotic animals as well as the species-specific needs of each taxa from birds and small mammals to fish, amphibians, and reptiles.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Pallor and Anemia in the Ferret

Although the medical approach to anemia is the same as in dogs & cats, some red cell parameters and some differentials differ in the ferret.

The ferret with moderate to severe anemia will exhibit pallor of the mucous membranes, nasal planum and skin. If a clotting disorder exists, petechial, ecchymotic and purpural hemorrhages can also be observed. The owner may complain of lethargy and reduced activity.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Heatstroke in Exotic Companion Mammals

Heatstroke is the most severe form of heat-related illnesses. In this life-threatening condition, the body is unable to dissipate heat load at a rate that accommodates excessive heat levels.

Begin treatment immediately once heatstroke is suspected. Intensive care is aimed at reducing body temperature while supporting organ function. A variety of techniques can be used to lower core body temperature. Administration of intravenous or intraosseous fluids is a popular internal cooling technique that also serves to support organ function…

Article 

Vascular Cutdown Techniques

Among exotic animals, venous cutdown is most commonly employed in reptiles like lizards and snakes although intraosseous catheters are also placed in lizards. Similarly, when an exotic companion mammal like a ferret or rabbit suffers from severe hypovolemia, dehydration, hypotension, and vascular collapse, intraosseous catheters have largely replaced venous cutdowns but this technique is occasionally employed.

Article 

Exotic ICU: Nursing Care for Exotic Companion Mammals

Released for National Veterinary Technician Week 2014, Nursing Care for Exotic Companion Mammals is part of an Exotic ICU series providing advice on the management of small exotic companion mammals in a critical care setting. Specific recommendations on caging, medicating, feeding, and monitoring the critical small mammal are explored as well as important potential sequelae to the stress of hospitalization.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Ferret

The domestic ferret is probably derived from the European polecat (M. putorious putorious). Ferrets serve as working animals (in the age old tradition of “ferreting”), pets, and laboratory animals. In the United States, ferrets are raised on ferret farms where they are spayed or neutered at 6 weeks of age. After each procedure, a tattoo is placed on the ear pinna. Male ferrets are called…

Form-Questionnaire 

Ferret Physical Examination Form

History and physical examination forms donated by Dr. Tom Tully of Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Download Ferret Physical Exam Form PDF.

Form-Questionnaire 

Ferret History Form

History and physical examination forms donated by Dr. Tom Tully of Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Download Ferret History Form PDF.

Client Education Handout 

Insulinoma in the Ferret

Insulinoma, or pancreatic beta cell tumor, is an abnormal growth of the pancreas that secretes excess amounts of insulin. Unfortunately, insulinoma is an extremely common disease of middle-aged to older ferrets.

Client Education Handout 

Ferrets and the Flu

It’s flu season! If you’re a ferret owner, that means extra worry about your furry little family member.

Client Education Handout 

Ferret, Care of the Pet

Ferrets are playful, friendly animals that can make excellent pets for the right person…

Client Education Handout 

Corticosteroids

Dispense this client educational handout to owners of insulinoma ferrets and other patients on steroids.

Article 

Zoonotic concern: Rabies in Terrestrial Small Mammals

All mammals are considered to be susceptible to rabies although susceptibility appears to vary by species and viral variant. Rabies is exceedingly rare among small wild mammals and exotic pets. Among rodents in the United States, rabies is most commonly reported in…

Article  Video 

Esophagostomy Tube Placement in the Ferret

Esophagostomy tube placement is an excellent choice for nutritional support of the debilitated small mammal patient requiring long-term feeding or for individuals that have suffered major orofacial trauma. Use this video clip or text with still images to review this important technique in the ferret.

Article  Video 

Epidural Anesthesia in Small Mammals

Are you using epidurals in your practice? The epidural is a neuroaxial technique that provides preemptive analgesia by injecting drug into the epidural space surrounding the spine. Epidurals can be used for abdominal surgery, perineal surgery, and orthopedic procedures involving the pelvic limb or spine. Some opioids can also travel cranially to provide supplemental analgesia for chest and thoracic limb procedures. Epidurals serve as an adjunct to systemic analgesia, and epidural analgesia also reduces the amount of anesthetic drug needed. Epidurals can also shorten recovery time.

Article  Video 

Intravenous Catheter Placement in Small Mammals

Placing an intravenous or IV catheter in an exotic companion mammal will never seem easier after reviewing LafeberVet’s Intravenous Catheter Placement in Small Mammals.

Intravenous catheters are commonly placed in ferrets and rabbits to administer fluids and medications, induce anesthesia, and for delivery of analgesic drugs during and after surgery. Intravenous catheters are also placed with growing frequency in chinchillas, guinea pigs and other exotic companion mammals…