ISSN 2398-2985      

Diabetes mellitus

4ferrets

Synonym(s): DM


Introduction

  • Spontaneous DM is rare in ferrets, with only sporadic reports found in the literature. 
  • DM is a metabolic disease characterized by elevated blood glucose concentrations.
  • The disease may result from an absolute or relative insulin deficiency, which impairs the tissues ability to use carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
  • The impaired use of glucose and ongoing gluconeogenesis subsequently result in persistent hyperglycemia and glucosuria with concurrent diuresis.
  • Cause: spontaneous, iatrogenic as a result of aggressive pancreatectomy to debulk insulinoma, secondary to diet high in sugars.
  • Signs: polyuria/polydipsia (PU/PD), lethargy and weight loss despite good appetite.
  • Diagnosis: blood biochemistry, urinalysis.
  • Treatment: the aim of treatment is to normalize blood glucose concentrations without the animal developing hypoglycemia.
  • Prognosis: guarded to poor for patients with spontaneous DM.
Print off the Owner Factsheets on Diabetes Mellitus and Excessive drinking and urination to give to your clients.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Most cases of DM in ferrets are iatrogenic as a result of aggressive pancreatectomy to debulk insulinomas Insulinoma. Any ferret undergoing (partial) pancreatectomy for treatment of insulinoma should be considered at risk for developing DM. 
  • Causes may include:
    • Lack of insulin production, ie an absolute insulin deficiency, eg secondary to immune-mediated pancreatitis, ie type-I DM.
    • Insulin resistance (peripheral), ie a relative insulin deficiency resulting from diminished response to insulin, ie type-II DM.
    • Glucagonoma, resulting in excessive production and release of glucagon in the circulation.
  • In the literature, one case report described pathological findings consistent with a type-I DM:
    • Histologically, the ferret’s pancreas not only contained fewer beta cells, but cells also lacked immunoreactivity for insulin.
    • In addition, focal lymphoplasmacytic inflammation was present in the pancreatic tissue, consistent with an immune-mediated pancreatitis, as has been found in dogs with DM.
  • Another report described presence of diabetes mellitus and ketoacidosis in a ferret fed solely on sweet cereals, suggesting that a diet high in glycemic index may play a role in diabetogenesis in ferrets, similar to other species. Findings in this ferret were thought to be the result of a peripheral insulin resistance brought on by the high-sugar diet, consistent with a type-II DM.
  • Two other ferrets with spontaneous DM were found to have concurrent hyperadrenocorticism Hyperadrenocorticism/hyperandrogenism:
    • It may be theorized that DM in these ferrets occurred due to peripheral insulin resistance brought on by increased blood cortisol concentrations resulting from adrenal gland disease.
    • Unfortunately, cortisol levels were not reported in either of the two ferrets, thereby rendering it uncertain whether and to what degree adrenal gland disease played a role in DM diagnosed in these ferrets.
    • Alternatively, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (which had been administered in one of the ferrets to manage its hyperadrenocorticism) may also have played a role in the peripheral insulin resistance, as has been reported in humans.
  • Another reported case was suggested to be secondary to steroid treatment.

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.
  • Duhamelle A, Langlois I & Desmarchelier M (2015) Transient diabetes mellitus in a domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Can Vet J 56 (7), 737-740 PubMed.
  • Hess L (2012) Insulin glargine treatment of a ferret with diabetes mellitus. JAVMA 241 (11),1490–1494 PubMed.
  • Chen S (2008) Pancreatic endocrinopathies in ferrets. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 11 (1), 107–123 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Schoemaker N J & van Zeeland Y R A (2017) Disorders of the Endocrine System. In: Ferret Medicine and Surgery. Ed: Johnson-Delaney C A. CRC Press, USA. pp 191-218.
  • Miller C M, Marini R P & Fox J G (2014) Diseases of the Endocrine System. In: Biology and Diseases of the Ferret. 3rd edn. Eds: Fox J G & Marini RP. Wiley Blackwell, USA. pp 377-400.
  • Rosenthal K L & Wyre N R (2012) Endocrine Diseases. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 3rd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W. Elsevier, USA. pp 86-102.

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