There are three main categories of causes of mobility disorders of ferrets. The first is disorders involving the musculoskeletal system. This category includes traumatic incidences and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. They can usually be diagnosed by a thorough examination and possibly radiographs. With the exception of fractures, these conditions can often be treated with one or more of the medication we have available for inflammation and pain. Even with chronic conditions, such as arthritis, many ferrets can be kept comfortable for many months and even years in some cases.
The second category involves the neurological system. This category includes bacterial, viral, fungal, inflammatory, and cancerous causes. It can be pretty involved to diagnose diseases of the brain and spinal cord. It often takes a specialist to make a diagnosis. If this isn’t possible, a tentative diagnosis can often be achieved by response to treatment. While this isn’t ideal, this approach can often improve the condition of the ferret. Even the clinical signs of a tumor may be alleviated for months, giving the ferret a good quality of life.
The last category involves things not normally associated with mobility. Low blood sugar associated with insulinomas can cause a weakness of the hindquarters that can respond well to prednisone or possibly surgery. Heart disease can cause hindquarter weakness. Treatment for heart disease can be difficult, but often improvement of mobility can be achieved by medications helping the heart function better. Abdominal diseases such as adrenal disease and abdominal tumors can affect mobility. While treatment of these conditions isn’t always possible, treatment of treatable forms of these conditions can often improve mobility and increase the ferret’s quality of life.