There are two, non-surgical treatments that are commonly used for ferrets
with Insulinoma. Neither of these are a cure. They simply help
to control the symptoms.
Prednisone (Prednisolone, PediaPred, Prelone)
This is usually the first drug that is given to a ferret with
Insulinoma. Prednisone acts to increase peripheral blood glucose
concentrations. Dosage ranges from 0.5 - 2.5 mg/kg, twice a
day. Pred, as it is commonly referred to, is relatively
inexpensive and initially works quite well and there are few side
effects. Ferrets do tend to gain weight when on
prednisone. If using the liquid type, make sure you do not use a
generic form which can contain alcohol. Also, there are different
concentrations so if you get it from a local pharmacy, make sure they understand
it's for a small animal and get the dosage information correct! As the
disease progresses, prednisone may no longer control the symptoms even at the maximum
dosage. Prednisone is converted to Prednisolone in the liver, and some
ferrets may do better on Prednisolone than Prednisone.
Proglycem is usually prescribed when Pred no long works. This drug
can be added to the Pred treatment, lowering the Prednisone dosage in the
process. Proglycem dosages start at 5 - 10 mg/kg, twice a day
and can go up to a total of 60mg/kg per day. Proglycem works by inhibiting
insulin release from the pancreatic beta cells, decreasing cellular uptake
of glucose and promotes glycogenoloysis and gluconeogenesis by the liver.
Side effects can include anorexia and vomiting. From personal
experience, Diazoxide does not appear to work well for all ferrets.
The major drawback to the use of Proglycem is the cost. A month
supply for one ferret can cost as much as $130 dollars.