Adrenocortical Disease in Ferrets

Key Points

  • Hyperadrenocorticism is a common and complex clinical condition of the pet ferret, seen most frequently in ferrets 3 years or older.
  • The most common clinical sign of hyperadrenocorticism in ferrets is progressive alopecia of the tail, tail base and trunk.
  • Vulvar enlargement may be seen in spayed females.
  • Male ferrets may present with a history of stranguria or urinary tract obstruction due to prostatomegaly.
  • Experienced ultrasonographers can detect adrenomegaly (width > 3-3.5 mm) or abnormal adrenal architecture.
  • Most affected ferrets have elevated levels of estradiol, androstenedione, and/or 17α-hydroxyprogesterone.
  • Surgical biopsy of the affected adrenal gland provides a definitive diagnosis, and surgical therapy is the treatment of choice for most ferrets. Geriatric ferrets or ferrets with other concurrent disease may not be good candidates for surgical therapy.
  • Medical therapy is palliative and most frequently relies on a synthetic GnRH analogs:  leuprolide acetate in the USA) or deslorelin in Europe and Australia

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 . . .

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To cite this page:

Ritzman TK. Adrenocortical disease in ferrets. LafeberVet Web site. January 11, 2010. Available at