ISSN 2398-2985      

Heart disease

4ferrets
Contributor(s):

Agata Witkowska

Sarah Brown

Synonym(s): Cardiomyopathy, Congestive heart failure (CHF), Acquired heart disease, Congenital heart disease, Cardiovascular disease


Introduction

  • Cause: acquired cardiac disease is relatively common in ferrets and most often affects middle aged to older individuals; dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), valvular heart disease and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are seen most often. Congenital disease may happen, few reports exist.
  • Signs: often non-specific and dependent on time of presentation, can range from lethargy and inappetence to dyspnea and collapse.
  • Diagnosis: auscultation during full physical examination, ECG, ultrasonography, echocardiogram. Thoracic radiography may be helpful.
  • Treatment: depends on type of cardiac disease.
  • Prognosis: guarded to poor if presented with symptomatic cardiac disease; guarded with congenital defects.
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Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Valvular heart disease most commonly occurs in middle-aged ferrets and is being recognized with increasing frequency.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy infrequently diagnosed but often associated with CHF.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may develop as a consequence of ventricular disease, specifically left ventricular wall thickening.
  • Myocarditis can occur with systemic vasculitis and parasitic, autoimmune, bacterial and viral disease.
  • Ferrets generally weigh 0.7-1.5 kg and heartworm disease may be severe even with a low parasitic burden. Physical blood flow obstruction may result in right-sided CHF.
  • Non-bacterial thrombotic endocarditis has been reported in a male ferret treated for a bite wound where it affected the aortic valve.
  • Affected individuals should not be bred.
  • A case of advanced second-degree atrioventricular block secondary to lymphoma has been described in the species.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Breeding from affected individuals.

Specific

  • Lack of heartworm prophylaxis in endemic areas or in traveling animals.

Pathophysiology

  • Mechanisms involved in cardiomyopathy are likely as in other species.
  • The etiology of cardiac disease in ferrets is poorly understood.

Timecourse

  • Generally slow for acquired heart disease in adult asymptomatic patients.
  • Congenital defects may be present at birth.
  • Heart disease is usually progressive.

Epidemiology

  • Usually affects individual animals.
  • Breeding colonies or large households may encounter problems if a lot of inbreeding takes place.
  • Heartworm prevention (Dirofilaria immitis) is important in endemic areas and imported/travelling animals.

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.
  • Dias S, Planellas M, Martorell J et al (2017) Extreme Tetralogy of Fallot with polycythemia in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Top Companion Anim Med 32 (2), 80-85 PubMed.
  • Menicagli F, Lanza A, Sbrocca F et al (2016) A case of advanced second-degree atrioventricular block in a ferret secondary to lymphoma. Open Vet J 6 (1), 68-70 PubMed.
  • Laniesse D, Hebert J, Larrat S et al (2014) Tetralogy of Fallot in a 6-year-old albino ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Can Vet J 55 (5), 456-461 PubMed.
  • Girolamo N Di, Critelli M, Zeyen U et al (2012) Ventricular septal defect in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). J Small Anim Pract 53 (9), 549-553 PubMed.
  • Wagner R A (2009) Ferret cardiology. Vet Clin Exot Anim 12 (1), 115-134 PubMed.
  • Guzman D S M, Mayer J, Melidone R et al (2006) Pacemaker implantation in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo) with third-degree AV block. Vet Clin North Am Exot Anim Pract (3), 677-687 PubMed.
  • Kottwitz J J, Luis-Fuentes V & Micheal B (2006) Nonbacterial thrombotic endocarditis in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). J Zoo Wildl Med 37 (2), 197-201 PubMed.
  • Orcutt C & Donnelly T (2001) Acute ataxia in a young ferret following distemper vaccination. Lab Anim 30, (8) 25-27 PubMed.
  • Lipman N S, Murphy J C & Fox J G (1987) Clinical, functional and pathologic changes associated with a case of dilatative cardiomyopathy in a ferret. Lab Anim Sci 37 (2), 210-212 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Morrisey J K & Malakoff R L (2021) Cardiovascular and Other Diseases of Ferrets. In: Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents. Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 4th edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E, Orcutt C J, Mans C & Carpenter J W. Elsevier. pp 55-70.
  • Van Zeeland Y & Schoemaker N (2017) Disorders of the Cardiovascular System. In: Ferret Medicine and Surgery. Eds: Johnson-Delaney C. CRC Press, USA, pp 127-159.
  • Chitty J (2009) Ferrets: Physical Examination and Emergency Care. In: BSAVA Manual of Rodents and Ferrets. Eds: Keeble E & Meredith A. BSAVA, UK. pp 205-210.
  • Orcutt C & Malakoff R (2009) Ferrets: Cardiovascular and Respiratory System Disorders. In: BSAVA Manual of Rodents and Ferrets. 5th edn. Eds: Meredith A & Johnson-Delaney C. BSAVA, USA. pp 282-287.

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