Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Ferrets

Rectal prolapse

Contributor(s): Cathy Johnson-Delaney

Introduction

  • Cause: disruption to the anal sphincter due to the demusking procedure. Prolapse can also occur due to diarrhea, tenesmus.
  • Signs: protrusion of rectal tissue, which may be desiccated, scabbed, erythematous, congested.
  • Diagnosis: clinical signs.
  • Treatment: topical therapy, surgical correction.
  • Prognosis: good.
  • This is most commonly seen in kits although it can be seen in older ferrets that develop tenesmus or severe hemorrhoids.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Most commonly there is disruption to the anal sphincter due to the demusking procedure (too much tissue is taken from the anus and sometimes from the rectal muscle itself).
  • There can be local nerve disruption.
  • Severe intestinal infection with coccidia, cryptosporidia, giardia, gastroenteritis or bacteria dysbiosis, viral infection (such as enteric coronavirus) and diarrhea (any cause) may contribute to tenesmus and irritation to the rectum/anus resulting in a prolapse.
  • Tenesmus, irritation can initiate hemorrhoids, with tissue prolapsing; there is often some localized bleeding from these swollen veins.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Kits that are demusked at the commercial breeders are generally most affected.

Specific

  • Demusking surgery that has removed too much tissue and potentially has damaged nerves in the area.
  • Intestinal infection with coccidia Coccidiosis, cryptosporidia Cryptosporidiosis, giardia Giardiasis, bacterial dysbiosis, enteritic coronavirus Epizootic cattarhal enteritis and other causes of diarrhea may lead to tenesmus and irritation to the rectum/anus resulting in a prolapsed.

Pathophysiology

  • Damage to the local rectal nerve branches during the demusking surgery is thought to be a primary cause, as the tissue in the rectal area may lack muscle tone. The rectal sphincter itself may be damaged during the surgery.

Timecourse

  • Prolapsed rectums are found in kits just shipped from the commercial breeder at 6-8 weeks of age.
  • Note: in the author’s experience, approximately 10 ferrets out of a shipment of 125 will have some degree of rectal prolapse.

Epidemiology

  • If due to enteric infection, see sections on coccidia, cryptosporidia, giardia, bacterial gastroenteritis, and enteric coronavirus.

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 (2009) Anal/rectal prolapse in ferrets. Exotic DVM 11 (2), 13-14.
  • Lennox A M (2005) Gastrointestinal diseases of the ferret. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 8 (2), 213-225 VetClinExoticAnimPract.

Other sources of information

  • Perpinan D & Johnson-Delaney C A (2017) Disorders of the Digestive System and Liver. In: Ferret Medicine and Surgery. Ed: Johnson-Delaney C A. CRC Press, USA. pp 159-190.
  • Hoefer H L, Fox J G & Bell J A (2012) Gastrointestinal Diseases. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents. 3rd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W. Elsevier, St. Louis, USA. pp 27-45.


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