My Veterinary Teaching Hospital Story
Fiona August 2013
...by Kristy D.
Meet Fiona. She is a six year old albino ferret and our
little darling! Fiona joined our family about five years ago
via the Spokane Ferret Rescue. She and her cage mate had
been surrendered by their owner because he was attending
college and couldn't keep them in the dorm room. We found
their story on Craig's List and applied for adoption.
Fiona is a healthy, happy ferret who spends most of her
days and nights sleeping in the "condo," a double decker
Ferret Nation cage she shares with her six year old ferret
sister. She looks forward to spending her play time outside
the cage wrestling with Willamina, her sister, and exploring
every nook and cranny she can squeeze into.
About three months ago, we noticed that she was
developing a bald spot on the top of her head. She had
"molted" before but always grew her hair back, so we were
waiting and expecting this to happen again. It did not. In
fact the spot grew to cover the size of the entire top of
her head. She started losing hair on the top of her feet,
her vulva enlarged, and finally began developing a bald spot
on her abdomen. All of these indicated that she had adrenal
gland disease which is deadly in ferrets.
Because we live in a small isolated area, we didn't have
access to a exotic animals veterinarian and ours recommended
that we take her to the North Idaho Animal Hospital in SandPoint, ID about 80 miles away, which we did. Even having all
the classic signs of adrenal gland disease it was necessary
to do complete blood workups to rule out other
The tests confirmed our fears which left us with three
choices. The first was to do nothing and plan to euthanize
her when she got too sick to function. The second was to
medicate her for the rest of her life knowing that the
medication was not a cure, and the last was to remove her
adrenal glands which would require ex-rays to determine
which side the tumor was on followed by surgery. I was told
that if it was on the right side the procedure was extremely
risky and there would be a strong possibility that she would
All of these solutions were beyond the comfort levels of
the veterinarians at the North Idaho Animal Hospital, and
they referred me to Dr. Finch, the exotic animal specialist
at WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman, WA which is
about 200 miles away. I contacted the hospital and was
lucky enough to get Fiona an appointment that Thursday.
Email communication with Dr. Finch made our decision simple.
She would receive a Suprelorin F implant. A fairly new drug
which lasts anywhere from one year to a year and a half
before having to be re-implanted and effectively reduces the
symptoms of adrenal gland disease in ferrets.
After giving her a physical exam, Dr. Finch explained the
procedure, administered a sedative, and injected the implant
between Fiona's shoulder blades. Once she was awake, Dr.
Finch brought her to the waiting room, showed me the
incision, and explained what to expect in the coming weeks.
Now, we simply wait and watch for her symptoms to disappear.
We know that this will not cure the adrenal gland disease,
but it does slow the progression down and make it possible
for Fiona to live out her full life comfortably. The biggest
upside to this is the fact that she didn't have to go
through any dangerous, expensive, invasive surgery. YAH! She
doesn't even seem to know she has the implant.
I am so impressed with the staff, the facilities, and Dr.
Finch! Thank you for everything you do for our little ones!