There are two versions of this post here, the long one and the short one.
The short one is this:
Garret (my oldest ferret - the one who was always the chubby one) has cancer. He's dying.
The longer version goes like this:
About 2 months ago, Garret started making a wheezing sound when he breathed. He stopped eating. And he wasn't drinking water.
I decided he might have a cold (ferrets get human colds).
Because he wasn't eating his hard crunchy ferret food, I started feeding him chicken flavored baby food, by hand. It's one of the things you can feed sick ferrets, if they'll eat it. He eats it OK. I started out feeding him store bought chicken flavor baby food (Gerber, he didn't like the texture of other brands.) But, as this has gone on, I've started making my own chicken "glop"... time consuming, but a whole lot cheaper!
After a week or so, and he wasn't getting any better - (I'm still not sure if he was getting worse or not), I decided I had to take him to the vet.
The vet decided it wasn't a cold. Nor was it pneumonia (phew!). But what is it?
She thought that something seemed to be obstructing his throat when he breathes, so either he: has some infection, he inhaled/swallowed something that got stuck, or he's got cancer.
She did an x-ray, and could see something around his larynx. She put him on oxygen and sedated him. And his wheezy raspy breathing cleared up. (Weird! But when he's all drugged up on Children's Benadryl he breathes a little better, too.) She looked down his throat for an obstruction. There wasn't an obstruction. When he woke up from the anesthesia, and started breathing on his own again, the wheezing started right back up again. Hmm...
We tested his blood for a rare fungus, (the test was called Cryptococcosis Titer, so I'm assuming the fungus is Cryptococcocis), which came back negative.
Then we did 2 kinds of antibiotics, hoping it would be a bacterial infection, and clear right up...
So... it's not an obstruction, it's not a rare fungus, it's not a bacterial infection, ferrets are incredibly prone to cancer... We're guessing cancer.
He's got something in his throat partially blocking his airway. He's getting enough air that the pads of his feet and his gums aren't discolored, but his tongue is purple sometimes. (From lack of air.)
We tried a cortizone shot, hoping it would help his raspy breathing. For about a day, he breathed better, and was acting like his normal self. And then he was back to his sickly wheezy ferret self... That apparently helped re-affirm the cancer guess. *Sigh*
Ferrets, apparently, get ulcers when their bodies get stressed with a sickness or something, one of the signs is them grinding their teeth like crazy, which Garret is doing, so he's on Sucralfate- also called carafate (which coats his stomach, protecting it from the acids). That does seem to be helping with the teeth grinding... Yay! Something is getting better! :)
However, since the last batch of antibiotics we waited a couple of weeks before trying to put him on Prednizone (I don't know that I actually want to feed him steroids every day...), and now he seems to have a intestinal tract bacterial infection. So, he's on antibiotics - again (different kinds this time) to try to clear that up, before we put him on Prednizone.
Next week, after the antibiotics are done, I get to start his steroids to help with his pain, & hopefully help him breathe easier!
So, 2 months after he all of a sudden just stopped eating, drinking, started wheezing, he still doesn't drink water. And he doesn't eat food. Well, he does eat, but it has to be liquid. I think that he can't take the time to chew his food, since breathing is so hard for him.
I feel so bad for my little sick confused baby. He doesn't understand why he doesn't feel good, and why I keep forcing yucky gooey medicine into his mouth for him to swallow! He's starting to grimace and run the other way everytime he sees me. *sigh*...
My ferret is sick! And he's dying!
It seems like some days he's losing control over the muscles in his left back legs.
All I can hope is that the steroids make his pain less. He's in pain. I can see it. I can't just let him die! He's my ferret!
And poor Rocket! He worries about his friend! Rocket saves Garret portions of their food out of the food bowl. As long as we've had Rocket and Garret, they've always slept together, if we try to separate them, they freak out... If I try to put Garret in his own cage to sleep, neither Garret or Rocket sleep. They just lay there. Staring out of their cages. Looking for their friends... It's sad... So I don't know what Rocket will do when Garret does die. Hopefully he'll just adapt? He will still have Cocoa... whatever comfort that is...
That's my story. Garret has cancer. He wheezes when he breathes. I get to feed him by hand 3-4 times a day. And I get to force medicines down him, too! (Currently 3 kinds, two are twice a day, one is three times a day. Bbut I'm not sure how many he'll get to take starting next week.)