Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Ferrets

Anemia overview

Contributor(s): Cathy Johnson-Delaney, David Perpinan

Introduction

  • Cause: anemia is commonly reported in ferrets with a wide variety of disease processes and determining the underlying cause can sometimes be challenging.
  • Signs: pale mucous membranes, weakness, tachycardia, increased respiratory rate and effort.
  • Diagnosis:  laboratory testing, fecal testing, radiography, ultrasonography, endoscopy, bone marrow aspiration/biopsy.
  • Treatment: treatment for anemia should be directed at resolving the underlying cause. 
  • Prognosis: highly variable, depending on the underlying disease process.
  • Anemia is a decreased number of red blood cells in the systemic circulation. 

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • All causes of anemia fall into three major categories:
    • Decreased red blood cell production.
    • Increased destruction.
    • Hemorrhage.
  • Decreased production can result from bone marrow disease (neoplasia, hyperestrogenism, pure red cell aplasia), iron deficiency, renal disease or anemia of chronic disease. 
  • Increased destruction has not been commonly reported in ferrets, but in other species, hemolytic anemia can be associated with infectious diseases (especially tick-borne disease), neoplasia, heavy metal toxicosis, rodenticide toxicosis, drugs, and vaccine administration. 
  • One of the most common causes of hemorrhage seen in pet ferrets is gastrointestinal blood loss secondary to Helicobacter gastritis Helicobacter mustelae gastritis and ulcers, but hemorrhage into body cavities secondary to trauma, coagulopathy, or neoplasia should also be considered. 
  • In 2008, an outbreak of unexplained hemorrhage was reported in juvenile ferrets as the result of a coagulation disorder of unknown etiology.

Predisposing factors

Specific

  • Entire females are predisposed to hyperestrogenism.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Johnson-Delaney C A (2010) Emerging ferret diseases. J Exotic Pet Med 19 (3), 207-215 JExoticPetMed.
  • Malka S et al (2010) Immune-mediated pure red cell aplasia in a domestic ferret. J Am Vet Assoc 237 (6), 695-700 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Swisher S & Lennox A M (2107) Disorders of the Haemic, Immunological and Lymphatic Systems. In: Ferret Medicine and Surgery. Ed: Johnson-Delaney C A. CRC Press. pp 237-258.
  • Mayer J, Erdman S E & Fox J G (2014) Diseases of the Hematopoietic System. In: Biology and Diseases of the Ferret. 3rd edn. Eds: Fox J G & Marini R P. Wiley-Blackwell, NY, USA. pp 311-334.


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