The adrenal gland is a tiny organ that sits above each kidney. In domestic ferrets, adrenal disease is one of the most common medical conditions. Although the cause is unknown, it is most likely due to a combination of both genetic (breeding) and environmental components (dark-light periods, early spay/neuter, diet, etc.) It occurs in both sexes and at any age, although it is more common in ferrets over 3 years of age.
Diagnosis is by Clinical Signs
Surgery: removal of the affected adrenal gland(s). Reasons for doing surgery:
Adrenal disease can be due to simple enlargement (“hyperplasia”) of the adrenal glands. However about one in four (25%) ferrets have cancerous tumors, which can grow rapidly and cause urinary obstruction and other major health problems. If left untreated, the condition is a chronic, debilitating disease, which can have a negative impact on the ferret’s quality of life and even its life span.
In this condition, the affected adrenal gland produces an excess of sex steroids (estrogen, testosterone and their precursors) which result in the myriad of clinical signs present with this disease.
In recent years great advances have been made in the early diagnosis and treatment. Although still a very common medical condition, most adrenal disease can be controlled with medical treatment. Ferrets that are properly maintained on medical treatment can live normal lives with excellent quality of life.