Q: The veterinarian says my 6-year-old, female ferret has lymphoma. She won’t eat and has been on prednisolone for five weeks, 0.5 mg twice daily. She probably had lymphoma for several months. It is very stressful for her to be force-fed and painful for her to go poo. She whimpers with each push. She has not been eating for a few days at least. She has lost weight and is weak. She can still go up stairs. It’s killing me watching this, but I think it’s too soon to say goodbye. I think pred has given her an ulcer. Can I stop giving her pred? Some say no, but she really resists it when at first she would eat it from a spoon. I took her off pred yesterday. Very stressful for her. She is getting weaker each day. I don’t think she’s in pain except when pooing. I also think she may pass any day.
A: If you feel your ferret needs to come off of her prescribed prednisone, only you and your veterinarian can make that decision. The more important question is this: do you believe your ferret has a good quality of life? Prednisone is a very good medication for lymphoma, but it does not work in all cases. We cannot predict when it will work and when it will not.
If you have given the medication and the results cause your ferret to be miserable, have a conversation with your vet about your ferret’s quality of life. Although we all hate to give up when treating our patients, sometimes, we cannot cure disease. And sometimes, our treatments can be worse than the disease itself.
You may be in that horrible state in which your ferret has a disease that we are not able to cure and the only medication available is making your ferret sicker. This is not an easy conversation for you to have, and I know it is an even more difficult conversation for your vet to have because vets do everything possible to give our patients the best quality of life possible. Please talk to your veterinarian to best help your ferret.