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Adrenal Disease

Ferret in a tissue boxAdrenal gland diseases are conditions that interfere with the normal functioning of the adrenal glands.  They are characterized by deficiencies or overproduction of steroids that are produced by the adrenal glands.  Adrenal Gland disorder is rather prevalent in small animals including dogs,rabbits, ferrets & guinea pigs. They may cause hyperfunction or hypofunction, and it may be congenital or acquired. Adrenal gland disorders are challenging to diagnose, but if left untreated, they are life threatening and can be very deadly.

Arenal disease is one of the most common conditions seen in middle aged domestic ferrets.  In ferrets, adrenal disease is associated with elevation of sex hormone concentrations that usually are derived from an adrenal tumor or nodular adrenal hyperplasia. Clinical signs for adrenal disease include, hair loss along the back and tail, excessive scratching, return of sexual behavior in a neutered male,difficulty urinating in males, and enlarged vulva in females.  Diagnosis is confirmed with blood tests and treatment can be medical or surgical.  

Cushings Disease of dogs &cats is the result of the excessive production of corticosteroids by the adrenal glands.  Common symptoms of Cushings disease are: increased thirst, appetite and urination; reduced activity; excessive panting; hair loss; thin or frail skin; recurrent skin infections; enlargement of the abdomen (pot bellied).  Treatment for Cushings is usually done with medication and monitoring.  Frequent blood tests are required during the initial phase of treatment to find the proper dosage of medication for your pet.  Regular blood work will be required to make adjustments to medications as needed. 

Addison's Disease is the opposite of Cushings, and is the underproduction of necessary
hormones by the adrenal glands.