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Doctors Work Together to Diagnose Cancer Scare in Ferret

They’re long, skinny and sometimes stinky, but ferrets make fantastic pets!

West Esplanade Veterinary Clinic’s Dr. Gregory Rich says, “They’re very fun, they’re really integrative in a household as far as being active and getting kids involved, getting parents involved.  They’re to a certain extent very good with dogs and cats too.”

However, caring for the critters requires some special attention.  Like dogs, they can get heartworm and distemper.  They can have dental problems and can’t eat just any old food.  There’s a special product, just for the little furballs.

Dr. Rich says 3 year old Salem’s owner takes great care of her and immediately knew when something wasn’t right.  “Salem wasn’t eating all that well, her exercise tolerance was down.  She was sleeping a lot, not playing with the other ferrets,” says Dr. Rich.  Testing showed Salem was suffering from anemia and an enlarged spleen.  So Dr. Rich contacted Dr. Rose Lemarie, with Southeast Veterinary Specialists, to test further.

They’ll take a bone marrow aspirate to determine if Salem has cancer or an infection.  The procedure is essentially the same for a ferret as it would be for a cat or a dog.  The only change is that they use a slightly different and much smaller needle.  Dr. Lemarie explains, “Because ferrets are so soft and they’re so tiny, we’re able to do it with just a regular hypodermic needle and what we do is just isolate the femur and then take the needle and push it through the femur, just like this.”  Once the needle’s imbedded in the bone, Dr. Lemarie uses a hypodermic syringe to collect a sample.  She and Dr. Rich send those samples to a lab, to determine exactly what’s wrong with skinny little Salem.

Thankfully, the test produced some good news!  Salem was diagnosed with erythroid hypoplasia, with no evidence of cancer.  She began oral steroid therapy and is already running around, looking more like her old self!