Caring for a Ferret with Insulinoma

by Pat Ceriello (owner of 8 ferrets)

Insulinoma is a tumor or tumors in the pancreas which stimulate the production of insulin causing low blood sugar levels.

There are two types of Insulinoma. The first is the most common and consist of tumor or tumors. The second is a rare form called Diffuse Insulinoma, which means the tumors are microscopic and cannot be removed without removing part of the pancreas.

Ferrets diagnosed with Insulinoma can live for a month or they could live the rest of their natural life. How long they live depends on the care provided.

Diffuse Insulinoma is a very aggressive and hard-to-manage form of the disease. Ferrets with this will be lucky to get an additional year of life. For this guide, the care provided is for my ferret, Bandit, who has this particular form of Insulinoma and who was diagnosed a year and half ago.

The protocol was developed with a lot of trial and error, and a lot of guidance from Dr. Desena, my vet.

First we will start with surgery…

Surgery must be the first resort not the last. With surgery the ferret could go a year or more with no medications before symptoms start to show again.

Keep in mind most ferrets are good candidates, regardless of age. What matters more is the health of the ferret. A 7-year old ferret in otherwise good health is just as likely to have a successful surgery as a 3-year old ferret in equal health. Surgery should be done shortly after diagnosis but not until acceptable blood sugar (b/s) levels have been reached. Sadly, in the US ferrets have been diagnosed as early as 3 years of age, as Bandit was.

Initial treatment usually begins with Prednisone (Pred). The amount and frequency of the dose will be determined by your vet. This is done by frequent b/s tests and adjustments until a reasonable b/s level is reached.

At this point proper feeding becomes critical for the ferret living as symptom-free as possible. Relying on the ferret alone to eat properly is not enough. Their meal of dry kibble should be supplemented with another soft meal high in protein.

There are many soft kitten and ferret foods out there. I have found the best to use is “Beechnut Stage 1” meat only baby food. I have had 8 ferrets and they all have readily accepted this; and it’s also easy to use for force feeding if necessary. Sometimes you will have to rub some on their lips to get them to try it; sometimes you’ll have to do that multiple times.

Prednisone should be given at the time the ferret is typically active, so if ferret usually starts playing at 6 pm then give dose of Pred at 5:30 pm, followed by a feeding of baby food. Feeding the supplement food should be at least 3 times a day, 5 times if your schedule allows.

Feeding amounts will have to be adjusted to maintain a healthy weight. Bandit gets between ½ – 1 teaspoon 4 times a day. Weight monitoring will become important but a kitchen scale is inexpensive. What the supplemental feedings do is help stabilize the b/s level. Although the baby food has no sugar, the body breaks down the protein into sugar.

It is important to not give a ferret with Insulinoma anything with sugar.

If you do, the pancreas immediately tries to counteract this and, because of the tumors, will release too much insulin.

The natural breakdown of protein into sugar is the best thing. Routine is critical with medicating and feeding. If you give meds and food at 6, be sure to do it as closely to that time every day, as well as trying to split the feedings as equally as possible.

After a while the Pred will stop controlling the Insulinoma. The next thing is going to be Diazoxide, which is an insulin blocker. When Bandit started this, I mixed it with “Rebound” liquid diet. “Rebound” is a pet milk that is great for mixing meds. There are other kitten milks you could use but some kind of milk from the vet would be best. They have all the vitamins that the ferret needs. Again with Diazoxide, give it just before your ferret’s most active time. Pred will still be used as well.

There are also natural supplements that you could use, such as Transfer Factor Plus and fish oil. I give the whole crew fish oil at night as treat and they all love it.

So the basics are small frequent feedings.

Now what to do in case of an Insulinoma episode?

Some key things to watch for are: weakness, pawing at mouth, drooling, and unusual behavior. By unusual, I mean a usually non-cuddly ferret becomes very affectionate. This is what Bandit sometimes does before an episode. These are the most common signs that an episode is going to occur.

Karo syrup should be kept on hand but only used as a last resort. Most episodes can be stopped by doing 2 simple things. Keep the ferret calm, don’t let them try to walk and freak out. When these episodes happen, they don’t know what’s happening and tend to run around freaking out, making matters worse.

Immediately, but calmly, get a spoonful of food and offer it. Sometimes it will take a minute or two for them to start eating. If they don’t want the food, offer the pet milk. Be patient but firm by keeping the food near their face and even touching their lips to the food, so they taste it.

Many times during an episode you’ll find that they have to poop. Help them to the litter box, holding them if you have to.

Continue to keep the ferret calm and offering food until they eat. Usually shortly after eating the episode will subside and the exhausted ferret will fall asleep.

Be prepared as an episode is usually followed by more, sometimes more severe over 24 hours before there is a break. Proper feeding and handling should see them through this.

As the last resort, and I mean the VERY last resort, there is the Karo syrup. This is very dangerous for the ferret. The Karo gives an almost instant spike in sugar. But what goes up must come down, and if it comes down fast and hard, it could result in coma, seizure or death if not done properly. This is why food should be used first as the body slowly and naturally produces the sugar.

With Karo you get the instant boost but the pancreas immediately starts releasing insulin to counter it. The problem is that the tumors are already pumping out insulin because of the episode and the added production causes the ferret to crash.

So if you absolutely can NOT get the ferret under control and if they are going into a seizure, then rub 1 drop of Karo onto their gums.

Wait about 5 minutes and if the ferret is not better then give another small drop. Soon as the episode starts to calm down, feed them some soft food immediately. If necessary, you must force feed them. It is critical that they get food in them so the body can naturally start producing sugar.

To force feed use a syringe and gently and slowly push food in, putting the syringe just under the lip at the side of the mouth. Feed them at least 1 teaspoon but if they want more, let them have more food.

After needing to use Karo, a trip to the vet should be made.

Lastly, know when it’s time to say goodbye…

After a while, the treatment won’t work anymore and that’s when you have to think about what’s best for your ferret, especially if their quality of life is compromised. Of course it’s easier to say than to do.

Thanks to this routine, Bandit has survived almost 2 years and has had a good quality of life during that time. He doesn’t play as much but he does play, and is still up and about daily. When your ferret does play, be sure to give a small feeding after 30 minutes of play to help keep the b/s levels up.

Thanks to Dr. Desena and to Nona for their advice on supplements and helpful links.

~ Pat Ceriello (January 2012)

Pat is more than happy to help anyone who is having a tough time looking after their ferret which is suffering from Insulinoma.

To contact him, you can send him an email at

cc_construction76 AT yahoo DOT com

(obviously replace the words with the appropriate email symbols and remove the spaces)

and put either “Ferrets” or “Insulinoma” in the subject line so that he doesn’t delete the email by accident.

 

 


DISCLAIMER: The information shared here is not intended to be a substitute for taking your sick ferret to a vet. It is just advice on how to look after your ferret with Insulinoma so as to give it the best quality of life once diagnosed. The treatment followed must be one advised by your ferret savvy vet.

If you have any doubts at all, please think about getting a second opinion so that you know that your pet is getting the best possible treatment available.


34 thoughts on “Caring for a Ferret with Insulinoma”

  1. Hi Ashley
    When I had to give my guys pred, I was told I should give it to them twice a day, morning and night, but was never told to give it to them after an episode.
    I think you should ring your vet and ask that question because they might have a different idea of when to give it to your baby than my vet.
    I always rubbed honey on my guys’ gums to get them out of an episode but never gave them pred during that time.
    Did you see the article about DMG on my insulinoma page? There’s a bit about giving supplements to a ferret with insulinoma which you might find interesting. Touch wood, I haven’t had a ferret with insulinoma since finding that article so haven’t tried what was advised so can’t tell you if it works or not.

    http://www.exoticpetvet.net/dvms/dmg.html

    I do give my guys a small amount of DMG in their smoothie – like about 1/8th of a teaspoon – as the vet who wrote that article said that DMG plays an important part in a ferret’s body and my fuzzballs are all fine.
    Hope that’s been of some help.
    Hugs to your poor sick baby from its new friend down under.
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  2. How can you tell when it’s time to say good bye. My little one has been on predisone for 8 months. She doesn’t play anymore she only sleeps and eats. She is still alert, but has week legs falls over sometimes. The poor thing also has adrenal disease and lupron doesn’t work on her so she lost over 1/2 get hair. So hard to decide what to do wish she could tell me what she wants.

  3. Joel, I think trying to decide if your ferret’s quality of life is bad is one of the hardest things for us ferret lovers 🙁
    I had an albino girl with a swollen liver which my vet thought only had weeks at the most to live. I was not prepared to give in so I went online and researched what supplements I could give her to keep her going. She lasted another 13 months then one day she crashed and I knew it was time to say goodbye :'(
    If your ferret still seems alert and not in pain when she’s awake then maybe you might want to check out what supplements you can give her to boost her system. However if she’s falling over a lot and seems unhappy then …. I guess that’s when you help her over the Bridge 🙁
    I’ve put down some supplements I have used on my guys on my page about insulinoma (scroll down) …

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/insulinoma-in-ferrets.html

    If you want to try supplements on your girl then I’d absolutely recommend milk thistle. I used to add it to my guys’ daily smoothie and you can find the recipe here …

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/natural-remedies-for-ferrets.html

    There’s also a link there for supplements to give a ferret with insulinoma which you might like to check out.
    And here are a couple of links about supplements to help with your baby’s adrenal problems …

    “Harrison’s Bird Foods saved to HEALx Cases
    HEALx Sunshine Factor in an Ferret with Hormonal-related Alopecia – Many ferrets develop adrenal gland tumors. The use of HEALx Sunshine Factor may help reduce skin and coat disorders. Ferrets are given 0.7 ml Sunshine Factor daily for a month and then 0.4 ml every other day. In this case, a female ferret received no hormonal treatment because it recovered well with only the Sunshine Factor. In other cases, we combine Sunshine Factor with leuprolide acetate. – Sergio Sarmiento Valiente, DVM”

    https://au.pinterest.com/pin/480548222710154202/

    Success Story: Cancer and Ferrets – Adrenal Cancer GONE!
    http://www.healingcancernaturally.com/budwig-ferret-adrenal-cancer-cure-msm.html

    If you think your girl isn’t on her last legs then I hope that the supplements you decide to try will help to increase her quality of life.
    Hope this is of help to you and your little girl!
    Hugs to your sick lady from her new friends down under.
    Wishing you all the very best
    ~Nona

  4. Thank You for sharing. Our Fritz will be having surgery on the 25Th of this month. He is doing well on the prednisone. I feed him every 5-6 hours. I use a chicken cat food with no carbs. Do you feel the baby food is better? We also ordered a high protein low card food which they hate. I grind up the food mix with duck soup and the cat food and feed it to him.I start at 5 AM and we give him his meds at 6 Am. Its better to do them both at the same time? Should I change our routine? I am really nervous about the surgery?
    Thank You

  5. Hi Veronika
    I have told Pat Ceriello about your post so I hope he’ll come and reply to your questions. Unfortunately I’m not in a position to answer any of them 🙁
    I’ve heard some very good reports about Carnivore Care by Oxbow but haven’t been able to try it on any of my sick ferrets in the past as we can’t import it into Australia 🙁
    You might want to check it out to see if it has more nutrition than the food you’re giving Fritz at the moment …

    http://www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/products/type/detail?object=1609

    I can appreciate you being anxious about his surgery but it sounds like Fritz is doing well so far and ferrets are really tough little guys. I’ve taken a couple of ferrets for emergency operations, thinking they wouldn’t pull through, but they did, so I’m sure Fritz will come through with flying colours 🙂
    Fingers crossed Pat checks his email and FB account so see my request for him to reply to your questions!
    Sending Fritz a whole lot of get-better vibes and a big hug too, from his new buddies down under 😀
    All the best
    ~Nona

  6. Hi I have a ferret that had surgery to remove 8 tumors. He also had an adrenal implant. He don’t do much anymore just lays around and sleeps. He takes pred every morning but from reading your posts I don’t think I’m doing all I can to help him. Could you please explain the supplements and feedings I can try. Unfortantly we don’t have a lot of vets here that know that much about ferrets and the vet I do see don’t explain any of this stuff and I was not informed about supplements and what I can do to increase not only his quantity but his quality of life

  7. Hi Tannya
    Oh your poor little man 🙁 I have listed the supplements to give to ferrets on these pages …

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/insulinoma-in-ferrets.html

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/adrenal-gland-disease-in-ferrets.html

    I’ve also written down the supplements I put into a smoothie which I gave my girl Mojo (who had adrenal problems) on this page …

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/natural-remedies-for-ferrets.html

    I would recommend that you give your boy a daily smoothie with the same supplements as I listed (I’ve linked the supplements’ names to pages which give you more information about what the supplements do) on that page as it certainly helped my albino girl, Mojo!
    When my vet first examined Mojo, she said the prognosis was not good (her liver was badly swollen) and she didn’t think Mojo would last a week 🙁
    However with those supplements in her daily smoothie, Mojo stayed with me for 18 more months! During that time she was full of beans and as feisty as ever 😀
    I hope you manage to get your boy feeling better and that he lives a long and happy life with you! DesiSmileys.com
    Hugs to your little guy from his new friends down under 🙂
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  8. Hi I have a ferret that has been diagnosed with insulinoma and we fear she doesn’t have long left at this time I feel terrible but I cannot afford the surgery nor do I trust a doctor near me because there are no exotic Dr Who are familiar enough with ferrets that I can go to. I have a vet who prescribed prednisone but then he took her off of it and told me to give her a high-calorie nutritional supplement called enercal. It says it is for cats and dogs but he told me it would be fine to give her what I’m worried about is it has all the vitamins and nutrients that she would need but it also has malt syrup corn syrup and Cane molasses I’m afraid this would be like giving her Karo syrup and it is just causing her to spike in blood sugar and then she might have a crash. I am supposed to give it to her 6 times a day. Has anyone ever heard of this or have any advice? My vet says that if she doesn’t gain weight in the next 10 days that he’s told me to think about letting her go and I’m not sure if I or she is ready for that

  9. Hi Nikki
    I am so sorry to hear about your ferret’s insulinoma and I personally agree with you that you should NOT give her the Enercal.
    I’m not a vet but I know that when I put Nutrigel daily into my guys’ smoothie, I had a couple of ferrets who developed insulinoma 🙁 Nutrigel has malt syrup and cane molasses in it and I’m convinced it caused the insulinoma! I was also using Whiskas Pet Milk for their smoothie, and that has malt extract and corn syrup solids 😮 Worst two ingredients for my babies!
    Your vet should have kept her on prednisone – although I’ve read that prednisolone is better for ferrets as it bypasses the liver – can you not get her back onto that medication? You can read about it here (scroll to HEALTH INFORMATION LIVER) …

    http://3rfc.org/3rfc/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/April-2010a.pdf

    Have you seen the page about insulinoma, Nikki? I’ve added some information about supplements, which you might want to think about giving her …

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/insulinoma-in-ferrets.html

    Being in Australia, I get all my supplements for my guys from iHerb.com and they sell DMG there. I add 1/8th teaspoon of DMG (I cut open the capsule and put the powder into a small container) to their smoothie, together with 2-3 drops of another supplement called Astaxanthin. I would think your ferret would benefit from a smoothie with both those supplements. I now use No Lactose Milk and add one egg yolk, the supplements and then I mix it all up with an electric beater.
    This is another site about insulinoma, which I hope will help …

    https://www.wellvet.com/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=ART_FERRETINSULINOMA

    If you need a good ferret vet, perhaps you’ll find one near you on my Vets Page?

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/ferret-vets.html

    I hope you find advice in the links I’ve added and will be able to help your girl to get better and be with you for a while longer 🙁
    Hugs to your baby from her new friends down under!
    All the very best and good luck!
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  10. Thank you i will try that, how much per ferret should be given and how much fish oil? I have just put in an oil for all three things from iherb
    .com

  11. Hi Nikki
    I don’t give my guys fish oil – that was written by a ferret owner called Pat Ceriello a while ago and I’ve lost touch with him 🙁
    I’d say just put some fish oil on your finger and let your girl lick it off. If she has too much she’ll get diarrhea and you don’t want that.
    I do recommend giving her a smoothie so get the no lactose milk (start off with 100ml – you can always increase it if she loves it), one egg yolk, then initially I’d suggest 3-4 drops of Astaxathin and just 1/8th teaspoon on DMG.
    The Astaxanthin comes in a capsule so you can get a thumb tack and prick the capsule to get the drops out; and with the DMG just cut the capsule and empty the powder into a small container.
    If you find your girl loves the smoothie, then you can increase the milk to about 200ml and then increase the Astaxanthin to 6 drops. The Astaxanthin will not hurt your girl and hopefully will increase her stamina.
    If you read the article about DMG, it will give you the dose for DMG; however it talks about liquid DMG which I haven’t seen on iHerb …

    http://www.exoticpetvet.net/dvms/dmg.html

    I hope this will help your girl <3

  12. If you can, please let me know how your girl gets on? Insulinoma is a lousy disease and – from experience – a ferret’s lifespan is cut too short because of it. However I do hope that the supplements will increase her quality of life and make her happier despite her illness. I wish I could have got those supplements when I had ferrets with insulinoma 🙁
    As an aside – a few years ago my last albino girl, Mojo, developed liver cancer. Our vet told me there was nothing that could be done for her and that she would probably leave me in a week :'(
    I brought her home and immediately jumped online to work out the best supplements for her liver and health, got them, gave them to her and my silvermitt in their smoothie and Mojo lasted 18 more wonderful months with me! My vet was astounded when she heard that but there you go! No drugs, just lots of supplements and lots of TLC 😀
    Oh, I forgot to say, after you’ve squeezed the Astaxanthin drops into the smoothie, you can take the capsule yourself so that it doesn’t go to waste 🙂

    https://www.naturalnews.com/Files/Astaxanthin.pdf

    Hugs to your little lady and wishing you guys a really good outcome!

  13. Hey there, vet appointment tomorrow to get a weigh in and see what the doctor has to say when I tell him about my change of diet for my fuzzy. I bought a kitchen scale and have started weighing her myself and she has gained almost a whole pound. Although not getting too excited as she still has a very terrible disease. So far the smoothie has really made her more active if anything. I think she seems like shes feeling better. What kinda worries me though is tonight I herd one of the ferrets go to the bathroom(I have two), and it didn’t sound very healthy. So I got up to go look and it was medusa( albino with the insulinoma ), and her poo was bright blood red. Now at first I was frantic, but then I remembered that the astaxanthin looked like blood when I squeezed the capsule. Could that be changing the color of her poo, or should I be worried about internal bleeding? I scooped the poo for a sample to take to vet tomorrow just in case. Also how often should they be getting the smoothie? Is it an every day thing, or just a once a week? Thanks for helping out by the way! will update again after vet visit.

  14. Oh Nikki – I’m so sorry, I should have warned you about their poop’s colour after they take Astaxanthin! Yes, it’s the supplement that makes their poop red, it’s not blood!
    I am so happy to hear that she’s put on weight and is more active. Is she on pred? If she is, I would suggest you get Milk Thistle to add to the smoothie as it will help her liver stay healthy.
    I give my guys a daily smoothie – some ferret owners say we shouldn’t give eggs to our ferrets too often but I’ve given my guys a daily smoothie for over 15 years now and not only do they love having their smoothie, it doesn’t hurt them, so I would advise you giving your guys the smoothie every day.
    I hope all will go well with your vet visit and I really, really hope Medusa gets stronger and enjoys a better quality of life for as long as possible!
    Big hugs to all your babies 🙂

  15. Okay, great to hear! I will get some milk thistle to put in as well, should they both get that? Yes I still give her prednisolone, I will be requesting that the vet keep the prescription good for now. I have also done some other research on the milk replacement. I have read some articles where it seems there is a split opinion on that. Some say it is fine for them others say they shouldn’t have milk or none lactose milk. Just a thought to your views, as I know that you do use the no lactose milk.

  16. Nikki, I hear you about the milk. I would urge you to do what YOU think is best for your ferrets 😀
    If you’re uncomfortable about giving them no-lactose milk too often then please give it to them as often as you think they need it!
    I did a lot of playing around with supplements when I first decided to do that – some worked, others not so much. I listened to others but I did what I thought was best for my ferrets, and I know you will do the same for your babies.
    My guys really love their smoothie and I can see it doesn’t hurt them – they don’t have diarrhea, they’re full of beans and they come running when they hear me using my electric beater to mix everything!
    You use the smoothie as often as you think is good for your guys! I’m just giving you my side of the story and it’s great that you’re also doing research to find out more.
    Hope that’s of some help 😀
    Oh, I almost forgot – it won’t hurt your other ferrets to have the milk thistle in the smoothie as well 🙂
    This was on my page about Insulinoma just FYI …
    HEALTH INFORMATION: LIVER
    “The liver is a vital organ that is involved with many functions having to do with blood volume, clotting, fats, glucose, cleaning blood.
    “One job of the liver that many people don’t realize is that the liver makes, stores and uses glucose. That is why prednisolone (which bypasses the liver) works better than regular prednisone (which is turned into prednisolone in the liver) in older ferrets and ferrets with liver issues.
    “A way to help support the liver which actually works is to give your ferret Milk Thistle. It’s the main component (along with B-vitamins) in Hepato-Support, which was recommended by Dr Wagner for a ferret with liver disease.
    “It’s innocuous, and seems to have no side effects. I give about 1/4 capsule of Milk Thistle in some duck soup and I’m convinced it’s helped more than one ferret not only to feel better, but also to throw off liver infections.”

  17. Thank you so much for your advice! Without this website I am not sure where we would be right now!
    sending love from my fuzzies to yours!

  18. hey there, vet was super surprised at her progress and has high hopes. she has gained a whole pound since last visit, and is staying on the pred. I told him of the new diet and supplements and he said Ive taught him a few things haha!

  19. Oh Nikki, that is great news !!!!
    I seriously hope that Medusa will have many, many more months/years with you in good health! Fingers crossed and lots of positive vibes travelling across the seas from down under for that to happen 😀
    I have fingers and toes crossed that your little girl will continue to have a happy life and hope all goes well with the supplements!
    Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any other queries or worries. I will do whatever I can to help but – obviously – can’t guarantee anything 🙁
    Hugs to your babies from my wolverines 😉
    Very best wishes and lots of positive vibes from down under to you and yours!!
    Thanks so much for letting me know what the vet said! As we say in Oz … “ONYA”!! (That’s a shorten form for ‘good on you 😉 )
    ~Nona

  20. Thank you! It is all thanks to you and your advice! will defintely come back if we have any issues or updates. Hope all is well on your side and thank you so much again!
    -nikki, hera,medusa

  21. Hi,
    I have a male ferret that is about 7yrs old. He was diagnosed with insulinoma early last year and was put on prednisone right off. Before he went on it, we noticed that he is back legs were getting weak, but did not put2 and 2 together til after he had a fit. Long story short, his back legs barely work anymore, he drags his lower body along the floor and pushes with his back legs. He sleeps most of them even when he is let out to run around. I love my little man, but i know he is not happy as he cant play chase anymore, not does he play with any of his toys. He is loosing weight, hair and stays dehydrated no matter how much water he drinks. I don’t know where to go from here. Would giving him the supplements help at this point or is he too far gone. His numbers are always low when we take him to the vet so we must be doing something wrong. Help.

  22. Hi Lisa
    From what you said, it doesn’t sound like your boy has any quality of life 🙁
    Do you have a ferret savvy-vet that you could ask that question?
    I honestly don’t think supplements would help your ferret to get his back legs working, unless a miracle happened. However I have had miracles happen to me occasionally!
    My last albino girl, Mojo, who had adrenal problems, suddenly developed a swollen belly and my vet said that her liver was very large so to take her home and make her comfortable as she didn’t think Mojo would last more than a week 🙁
    I did research on the web, got her a bunch of supplements and Mojo was with me in good spirits for 18 more months! My vet was amazed and very pleased so you see … supplements can help and miracles can happen 😀
    Unfortunately Pat Ceriello, the author of that article, and who used to be a member of my forum, is no longer around so I can’t ask him for more advice to pass on to you 🙁
    If you want to give your boy supplements, I’d suggest getting Astaxanthin (antioxidant) and Milk Thistle (to protect his liver) and, being in Australia, I found a great site which is also an American site – iherb.com
    The Hawaiian Astaxanthin is apparently the best quality to get so this is the brand I get from them : Nutrex Hawaii, BioAstin, Hawaiian Astaxanthin, 4 mg, 60 Gel Caps
    And I get this liquid milk thistle : Nature’s Answer, Milk Thistle, Alcohol Free, 2,000 mg, 2 fl oz (60 ml)
    Get a carton of NO LACTOSE milk (rather than pet milk), pour about 150-200ml in a jug and add one egg yolk (preferably organic but that’s up to you), squeeze the capsule of Astaxanthin into the jug (press it down on an upside-down thumb tack to make the hole) and put 5 drops of Milk Thistle in as well. Mix it all up with an electric beater so it’s mixed up and then give it to your boy.
    I have to order these supplements so they take about 10 days to get to me. If you’re in the States and you can go somewhere else (like Walmart, where I believe they sell cheap health products) then maybe get them from there to see how your boy goes.
    I’m sorry I can’t give you a definite answer and I honestly feel for your little guy! However I do hope that what I have told you will give you some idea of how to proceed 🙁
    Hugs to your sick little guy from his new buddies down under!
    Wishing you and him all the very best!!!
    ~Nona

    PS Lisa … sorry, I just thought of something!
    Please read my page on Insulinoma and supplements to give to a sick ferret with that disease. DMG is supposed to be a great help to ferrets with insulinoma

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/insulinoma-in-ferrets.html

    I personally have never tried it as we couldn’t get that supplement when I had a ferret with that disease; however I’ve bought it to add to my guys’ smoothie (1/8th teaspoon) these days – read the article and see if you agree.
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  23. Hello I have a 2 year and 10 month old girl. I got the news from her blood work today that she has inslunoma. She’s being placed on pred. I was told to find a high protein no grain, no vegetable and no fruit kibble.. I couldn’t find fruit and vegetable free but I did find a cat food called orijen regional red. Seeing as I can’t find anything better in my area I decided to go with that. Wet it down half with her old kibble and half with the orijen. Gradually I’ll fade out the old kibble and return her to the dry diet.. I can’t afford surgery for her at the moment as I’m trying to move across country to avoid a abusive household. So with that said I feel like I’m not doing enough for her and I’m extremely worried she’s going to die.

  24. Hi Bailee
    I can empathise with your feelings but try not to worry too much!
    I’d suggest you start giving your girl a daily smoothie. Get NO LACTOSE milk and put around about 200ml in a jug, add an egg yolk and then get some Milk Thistle to put into the milk, also DMG and one Astaxanthin, then mix it all together well and give it to your baby.
    I do believe those supplements will help to keep her strong and certainly the Milk Thistle will protect her liver from the pred!
    As I live in Australia, I get my supplements from iHerb’s Aussie store – you can either use the US store or get your supplements from somewhere else.
    These are the supplements I’ve got from them in the past for my babies when they were sick …

    https://au.iherb.com/pr/Nature-s-Answer-Milk-Thistle-Alcohol-Free-2-000-mg-1-fl-oz-30-ml/5159

    https://au.iherb.com/pr/FoodScience-Aangamik-DMG-Liquid-300-mg-2-fl-oz-60-ml/3287

    https://au.iherb.com/pr/Nutrex-Hawaii-BioAstin-Hawaiian-Astaxanthin-4-mg-60-Gel-Caps/5929

    With the Astaxanthin I read that the best one is the Hawaiian one – BioAstin – so that’s the kind I get. I give my guys one capsule squeezed into their daily smoothie as an antioxidant. I’ve stuck a thumb tack into a small piece of cardboard, so then just press the gel capsule onto the pointy bit then squeeze the liquid into the smoothie.

    Please take a look at the information I’ve put on my Insulinoma page …

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/insulinoma-in-ferrets.html

    As I said there, when my guys had insulinoma I couldn’t get the supplements I needed 🙁 Fortunately now I can but (touch wood), since I stopped putting Nutrigel in their smoothie, I haven’t had a ferret who suffers from that awful disease!
    I must say your ferret seems awfully young to have that problem – were you giving her lots of sweet things which caused her insulinoma? Please make sure you don’t give her anything sweet any more as you really don’t want to have her getting worse.
    And please make sure you don’t confuse “Deep Ferret Sleep” with an “Insulinoma Coma”! If you happen to see your girl deeply asleep and not waking up when you shake her, make sure you rub honey or Karo syrup on her gums to snap her out of her coma!
    Another suggestion … think about giving her a small daily serve of meat which you know she likes. Chopped up fresh chicken, or mince meat, or a chicken wing for her to snack on. My guys will only eat turkey mince so I give them some every night, as well as them having kibble 24/7.
    I hope that this has been of some help to you and that the supplements will help your girl to regain and keep her strength for many years to come!
    Big hugs to your little one from her new buddies down under 😀
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  25. What is your “smoothie” made out of? Can you list the ingredients and amounts you put into it? Our ferret has insulinoma and we’d like to give it a try. We love the little girl and want to help her the best we can. She is currently on prednisone and sleeps a lot as well as being very wobbly sometimes falling over. Has lost almost half of her body weight. She walks a few paces, shakes her head like she is trying to clear it and then walks some more. We also have been feeding her through a syringe every 3 hours around the clock (ground kibble and beech nut chicken baby food/2 ml mix each time) to try and keep her blood sugar level. Please help us we’d like to give the smoothie a try to see if it helps. We feel we are running out of time. ??

  26. Hi Courtney
    I’m afraid that article was written by a ferret owner from my forum years ago and now he seems to have fallen off the map! I can’t raise him on Facebook and I would imagine that his email address is probably old by now ?
    Have you read my page on Insulinoma? I have some suggestions there about supplements which you might like to try, like getting milk thistle to give her to protect her liver from the pred, and giving her DMG to stop her seizures.

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/insulinoma-in-ferrets.html

    My last albino – Mojo – had adrenal problems and then she suffered from insulinoma and I gave her a daily smoothie, the recipe is on this page …

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/natural-remedies-for-ferrets.html

    I hope the supplements mentioned will not only help your little girl to prolong her life, as well as give her a good quality of life.
    Hugs to your little one from her new buddies down under ❤
    All the best
    ~Nona

  27. Hello, I have a ferret (Rex) who last year or so was diagnosed with insulinoma He acts fairly normal and hasn’t had any of the seizure type things since he started getting his medicine. We first noticed something was wrong on Christmas Eve, with the preparations for Christmas I’ll admit I wasn’t taking him out as much as I should have or paying enough attention to him. I first realized something was wrong when I went to fill his food as usual and realized despite two days passing it was barely eaten I fill his water every day and was comforted that at least that looked to be the normal level. I took him out and instantly noticed he was shivering too much he had lost so much weight in such a short time because I could have sworn when I pet him in the hammock two days ago his weight felt fairly normal. His fur was so dull so I immediately panicked. I took him out of his hammock and put him next to the food bowl and tried to persuade him to eat. That’s when he started to paw at his mouth and make odd noises and spit everywhere. I brought him down to my mom. We gave him something called carnivore care and despite feeding it to him three times a day he didn’t really gain any weight back, when he started to eat the carnivore care on his own without us force-feeding it we tried mixing it over top of some of his normal food and he went off food again and lost the little weight he had gained. Long story short we gave him carnivore care for two weeks before the vet could see us. Before even taking a blood test the vet was pretty confident about what it was. He’s doing fine now shortly after his diagnosis he began eating food on his own and we were still giving him carnivore care once a day. But it’s expensive and we stopped after a while. He’s still playful and acts pretty normal. And even though he gained the weight back to a healthy level you could still see his ribs no matter how well he was eating. Well we recently started to switch him over to more healthy food and the change was in a few days his ribs are disappearing more and more and now half his bowl is the new food. But his legs are still extremely shaky he’s started to try using them again but he falls over so much and they’re sort of stuck in this odd splayed out position that he was dragging behind him until recently. I feel bad that he’s trying to stand and am looking for ways to help correct his legs and to strengthen them at this point it’s not even just weakness it’s like he physically can’t get them out of the splayed out position he was using to walk previously. I also want any other tips to help improve his quality of life with what he has. I’m letting him swim for like ten minutes around once every three weeks and he seems to enjoy that and sometimes he tries to swim by kicking his back legs as well as his front so I figure that might help improve them unfortunately most of the time he only swims with his front legs. My vets are very optimistic about him. He gets his medicine twice a day at ten in the morning and at night and we went to the vet for his blood draw at around 12 and they said he was on the low end for the range they want his blood sugar to be in and they said that was very good considering he had the medicine 2 hours ago and he began treatment not long ago. I know he’s going to live for a while longer and I want to make sure he’s as happy and healthy as possible for all of it. There isn’t a time where he’s playing where I don’t regret being stupid and impatient. I spent two years saving up for everything to do with a ferret he’s got all of his needs fulfilled and a full four-tier cage but I was too impatient to save up for a second ferret and by the time I could he was too old and we’re pretty sure would have bullied it (also my dad totally realized how much they smell and that having a second one would make it worse) And I feel bad constantly for him not having a friend and for me being so busy on school days that he can only play for a little bit in our old house we had a room where I could let him run around with all his toys with minimal supervision but now every room upstairs is carpeted and he hates my dog (probably more likely scared of her and is defending himself) and she’s scared of him (he once grabbed her eyelid and wouldn’t let go worst part is she’s a half American bulldog half rottweiler massive dog and this tiny little thing pushes her around) So he can’t play anywhere downstairs except for the small closed off den becsuse it has doors so I have to be there to watch him all the time becuase we can’t ferret proof it so I have to make sure he doesn’t get at the tv and lamp wires and my mom’s knitting bag and such and he just can’t play like he should be able to. So yes tangents aside I need all advice possible on improving his quality of life best I can with his sickness. Also, he’s taken to drinking his pee ever since we started treating him. Everything I’ve looked up says I shouldn’t worry and I just try to keep the trays as clean as possible so he’s not picking up any extra bacteria. But is this something I should be worried about and is there a better way to stop it?

  28. Hi Annabelle
    Thanks for your comment about Rex. Your poor little guy – but I’m so glad you’ve taken him to the vet and have his blood sugar under control.
    Don’t worry about him licking up his piddle – my boy does that too. I think it’s gross but it doesn’t hurt them or mean anything is wrong with him ?
    I’m not sure what to suggest about Rex’s inability to use his hind legs. Did you ask your vet about that?
    I see Dan has also posted about Rex so if you don’t mind, I will continue with what I’d suggest you should add to his diet.
    I’ll post the link to Dan’s comment and my reply once I’ve finished replying to his questions ?
    Here’s the link to Dan and my comments for you to read. Just scroll down to the end ..

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/natural-remedies-for-ferrets.html

    Cheers
    ~Nona

  29. Hi all,

    My little guy, Gus, was just diagnosed with insulinoma, but he is only 4 months old. I’m somewhere in between crushed and bewildered. From everything I’ve read he should be too young for this? His vet gave him glucose with calcium to take twice/day as well as prednisone and is suggesting we wait 2-4 months for the tumors to grow bigger so they can be spotted more easily. Gus however is doing poorly. Hardly any energy even on the meds. What do I do? My little boys are devastated. Thank you in advance ?

  30. Oh Ava – how horrid that Gus has insulinoma and yes, he is extremely young to get that horrible disease ?
    Did you by any chance give him fruit (like raisins), Nutrigel or Whiskas pet milk on a daily basis? I used to put a squirt of Nutrigel into their daily smoothie and also had no idea that Whiskas had malt in its ingredients! That all added up to too much sugar in their system and my beautiful CJ got insulinoma ? I was so upset that I had caused it unknowingly!
    I don’t know if you have already seen my page on Insulinoma but if not, please check it out as I talk about supplements to give ferrets with that disease …

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/insulinoma-in-ferrets.html

    *IF* Gus starts having seizures, do get the DMG for him. I recommended it to a friend whose ferret was having seizures and she said it really helped him so that’s how I know it works, even though I haven’t used it myself.
    I’d also suggest giving Gus a daily smoothie, like I gave/give my guys over the years. They loved it and the minute they hear my electric beater mixing the smoothie, they come running into the kitchen waiting to have their treat ?
    ****

      Smoothie Recipe
      * 1/2 cup of No Lactose milk
      * one (free-range) egg yolk
      * 1 whole liquid capsule of Astaxanthin (put a tack upside down through a small piece of cardboard so you can prick the capsule and squeeze the supplement into the jug)
      * Milk Thistle 3 drops in the morning / 3 drops in the evening (suggest you give him the smoothie in the evening and leave it overnight so that he can drink it whenever he wants to. Perhaps put the morning dose of Milk Thistle in a little no lactose milk for him to lap up?)

    ****
    The Astaxanthin is great for his immune system so should keep it strong and this is about the Milk Thistle …
    Gregory L Tilford and Mary L Wulff explain in their book entitled Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance your Pet’s Life: “Despite much of the publicity that has been generated about this ‘wonder herb’, milk thistle should not be used as a daily food supplement. Milk thistle is a medicine that is best reserved for situations in which the liver is already under abnormal stress.”
    Most holistic doctors feel that milk thistle should be administered for 3-6 weeks with a 1-3 week break.

    Try to get him supplements which have a good brand name, so that you know he’s getting what it says. I’ve heard the Hawaiian Astaxanthin is the best so the brand would be Bio-Astin. I get my supplements from the Australian store of this site …

    iHerb.com

    I’ve used Eclectic Institute, Milk Thistle, 2 fl oz (60 ml) from iHerb and my babies did well on it.
    Here is the link for the Astaxanthin pdf…

    https://www.naturalnews.com/Files/Astaxanthin.pdf

    I hope that’s been of some help to you and that the smoothie will give Gus a good quality of life despite having Insulinoma!
    Good luck ❤
    Hugs to Gus from his new buddy down under ?
    Cheers
    ~Nona

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