Ferret Disease

Insulinoma is probably a word you do not hear every day. It is the term veterinarians refer to for cancer of the beta cells of the pancreas in ferrets. Apparently, the ferret disease insulinoma is reaching epidemic proportions among this species. It also seems to be a disease related to your ferret’s diet. The first part of the word gives you an idea of the cause. The word “insulin” in reference to blood sugar. Now you probably know where I am going here.

The metabolism of blood sugar in your ferret is very sensitive to dietary disruption. Diets containing too much carbohydrates cause the pancreas to produce higher levels of insulin as a natural reaction to the high levels of glucose in the blood. If this sounds like diet-induced (or type 2 diabetes) you are close. The causes are similar, but the results are different. Unlike with diabetes, some ferret experts say that the cells in the pancreas do not just burn themselves out, but they actually change their growth pattern. And this new, strange carbohydrate induced pattern causes a cancerous state.

Let me advise briefly about what not to give your ferret, if you are expect him to remain healthy and vibrant. Do not feed him fruits or vegetables. Also do not feed him starches or sugars. Feeding your ferret the wrong kinds of foods can lead to various health problems, not the least of which is obesity. And they are pretty low to the ground as it is, you would not want the ferret’s little belly to be dragging the ground as he ran around he house. But more importantly, the wrong diet can also lead to other food-related illnesses as well as a shortened life span.

If you know for sure that you are feeding your ferret a good high-quality meal but you suspect that he is gaining excessive weight, bring him in to see the vet. Unexplained weight gain may be a symptom of an enlarged spleen. It could also mean he is retaining fluid in his abdominal cavity. Some ferrets, do experience that so-called “middle age” weight gain. And some will get slightly heavier throughout the winter months. But for the most part, obesity is not a problem you or your ferret need to overly concerned about. Just as long as his diet is properly balanced.

One other thing to be concerned is ferret kibble. You need to make sure that the first three ingredients are all meat products. Then you need to make sure that it does not contain any corn. Do not feed your ferret any kibble that contains dried portions of fruit and vegetables. You also need to be concerned about the starch and carbohydrates in kibbles. Most kibble foods contain macro-nutrients which are composed of nearly 20 to 30 percent of digestible carbohydrates. You must consider the starch and carbohydrate content of the kibble. Starches and sugars are foods that the ferret just cannot digest. The higher the levels of carbohydrates in your ferret kibbles, the greater the chances of your pet developing some food-related illnesses, like gastroenteritis, and bladder stones. And nobody really wants that either.

By Laura