Q: I just noticed that my 2-year-old, female, spayed ferret has a strange spot on her nipples. See the photo. She’s now changing her coat. Is this a sign of anything? Is it serious?
A: Thank you for sending along the picture. A small spot as you describe can be many things that range from a small skin abrasion that will heal on its own to something as serious as cancer.
A small skin abrasion can happen easily in a ferret, because they walk with their belly so low to the ground. And if you have another ferret, some tussles between the two can certainly cause this. Sometimes an insect bite or even a skin reaction to an irritant in the environment can cause what you are seeing. In most of those instances, this skin change will go away on its own.
More serious considerations would be different types of skin cancers. A common, but usually benign form, is a mast cell tumor. Mast cell tumors have the capacity to spread and cause internal disease. In ferret, usually these tumors just remain on the skin and are easily removed by your veterinarian.
Then there are more serious forms of skin cancer such as an adenocarcinoma. These need to be seen and treated as soon as possible by your veterinarian. Finally, some skin cancers are metastasized from other areas of the body. In those instances, further investigation, such as radiographs and ultrasound, are necessary to define exactly where the cancer originated.