Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Ferrets

Dilated cardiomyopathy

Synonym(s): DCM

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

Introduction

  • Most common acquired cardiac disorder.
  • Cause: unknown.
  • Signs: lethargy, weakness, anorexia, weight loss, exercise intolerance, respiratory distress, weak pulse, pulse deficit, hypother­mia, pallor, cyanosis, prolonged capillary refill time, posterior paresis, hepato-/splenomegaly and/or ascites, heart murmur, pulmonary edema.
  • Diagnosis: echocardiography, ultrasonography, radiography, blood tests, urinalysis.
  • Treatment: oxygen therapy, diuretics.
  • Prognosis: limited data to provide an accurate estimation of the prognosis.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • The exact etiology is not known, ie idiopathic.
  • Associations with taurine or carnitine deficiencies, as seen in cats and dogs, have been suggested, but could thus far not be confirmed in ferrets.
  • Other causes reported in other animals and humans include pre-existing endocrine disease, intoxications or infectious disease, eg viruses.
  • In one ferret, DCM was reported in association with a cryptococcal infection.
  • Similar to humans, cats, and dogs, a genetic origin may also be present.

Pathophysiology

  • Increased diastolic dimension and systolic dysfunction of the left and/or right ventricles, decreased contractility and diminished cardiac output -> renin-angiotensin-aldosterone-system (RAAS) is activated, leads to sodium retention, fluid accumulation and volume overload.
  • This results in an eccentric hypertrophy (dilatation) of the ventricle, valvular insufficiency and, once the disease progresses, signs of congestive heart failure, eg pulmonary edema, pleural effusion, ascites.

Epidemiology

  • Not common in ferrets.
  • When it occurs, it is highly associated with congestive heart failure.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Malakoff R L, Laste N J & Orcutt C J (2012) Echocardiographic and electrocardiographic findings in client-owned ferrets: 95 cases (1994-2009). J Am Vet Med Assoc 241 (11), 1484-1489 VetMedResource.

Other sources of information

  • Fox J G & Marini R P (2014) Eds Biology and Diseases of the Ferret. 3rd edn. Wiley Blackwell, USA. pp 835.
  • Mayer J & Donnelly T M (2013) Clinical Veterinary Advisor: Birds and Exotic Pets. Elsevier, USA. pp 752.


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