Although hematology and biochemistry are an important part of the clinical picture in the avian patient, this bloodwork remains just ‘part of the picture’. All too often, when a clinician is unfamiliar with a species, the reaction is often to rely on laboratory results to hang a diagnosis upon. Although we have all been guilty of this, such an approach is inappropriate. For each sick bird, the following diagnostic tools should be applied: complete history, visual examination of the bird and its environment, physical examination, clinical pathology sample collection (blood, feces, swabs, aspirates, etc.), and radiography.
White blood cells are similar to mammalian lines, except that mammalian neutrophils are replaced with heterophils and mammalian platelets are replaced with thromobocytes. There are significant variations in normal differentials among avian species, in particular the total white cell count and…
Pancreatic beta cell tumor or insulinoma is commonly seen in middle-aged to older pet ferrets in some nations, including the United States. This article reviews the common clinical picture as well as expected laboratory results. While there is no cure for beta cell tumors, surgical debulkment of the tumor with possible partial pancreatectomy is the treatment of choice. This treatment modality is discussed as well as medical management, which centers around corticosteroid and/or diazoxide administration.
Insulinoma, or pancreatic beta cell tumor, is an abnormal growth of the pancreas that secretes excess amounts of insulin. Unfortunately, insulinoma can be an extremely common disease of middle-aged to older ferrets in some nations. Client education is crucial for owners of affected ferrets. Teach owners to recognize signs of hypoglycemia and to prevent hypoglycemic episodes from occurring. Owners must also recognize situations that can precipitate a hypoglycemic crisis and take measures to minimize stressors whenever possible. Other important preventive measures are also explored.
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.