Priest Lake Veterinary Hospital

2445 Morris Gentry Blvd
Nashville, TN 37013-2073


Ferret Insulinoma

Insulinoma in Ferrets: A Guide for Concerned Owners

What is Insulinoma?

Insulinoma is a common endocrine disease in ferrets, affecting one in three individuals over five years old. It arises from tumors in the pancreas that overproduce insulin, leading to dangerously low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). Think of it as the opposite of diabetes, where instead of lacking insulin, there's an overabundance causing a sugar crash.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

  • Lethargy and fatigue: Your usually playful ferret becomes withdrawn and sleepy.
  • Loss of appetite: Refusing treats or meals, showing disinterest in food.
  • Weakness and trembling: Difficulty walking, stumbling, or appearing shaky.
  • Confusion and disorientation: Staring into space, acting lost or bewildered.
  • Seizures or unconsciousness: In severe cases, episodes of convulsions or fainting.


Diagnosis and Treatment

Early diagnosis is crucial. If you suspect insulinoma, consult your veterinarian immediately. Blood tests confirm low blood sugar, and ultrasound scans may reveal tumors. Treatment options include:

  • Surgery: Removing the tumor(s) is ideal if feasible, providing long-term remission.
  • Medication: Prednisolone and diazoxide stabilize blood sugar, but require careful monitoring and often have side effects.
  • Dietary Management: Frequent, small meals of high-protein, low-carbohydrate food regulate blood sugar fluctuations.


Living with Insulinoma

With proper management, ferrets with insulinoma can enjoy a good quality of life. Close monitoring of blood sugar, prompt response to hypoglycemic episodes (offering sugary treats or seeking immediate veterinary attention), and consistent medication or dietary adjustments are key. Remember, every ferret is unique, and treatment plans need to be individualized for optimal control.