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Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Ferrets

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of gastrointestinal diseases that result in the inflammation of the intestines and chronic symptoms related to gastrointestinal system. Though the exact cause of IBD is not known, abnormal immune system response thought to be initiated by normal inhabitant bacteria of the intestine is suspected to be the cause of inflammation. There is no sex or age predilection for IBD.

Symptoms and Types

The inflammatory response is usually lymphocytic (white blood cells found in bone marrow), lymphoplasmacytic (The fluid portion of the lymph), or eosinophilic (cells that can be stained and then detected). This may lead to:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite (anorexia)
  • Weight loss and/or muscle wasting
  • Diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucous)
  • Black stool (melena)
  • Excessive salivation, pawing at the mouth

Causes

Though no single cause is known, more than one cause is suspected. Hypersensitivity to bacteria and/or food allergies are suspected to play a major role in this disease. Food allergens suspected to play a role in this disease include meat proteins, food additives, artificial coloring, preservatives, milk proteins, and gluten (wheat). Genetic factors are also suspected to play a role in IBD.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will take a detailed history and ask you questions regarding the duration and frequency of symptoms. A complete physical examination will be conducted and after the examination your veterinarian will conduct routine laboratory tests, including complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. The results of these routine laboratory tests are often normal. In some ferrets, anemia and abnormally high number of white blood cells (as in infections) may be present. Fecal examination, meanwhile, is performed to verify the presence of parasitic infection(s).

 
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