Enlargement of the Spleen in Ferrets

PetMD Editorial
Jun 21, 2010
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Splenomegaly in Ferrets

This is a condition where the spleen becomes enlarged. However, this is not typically directly related to the spleen, but rather a symptom of another disease or condition. Because the spleen produces and regulates blood cells (red, white, platelets, etc.), it should be taken seriously. Splenomegaly commonly affects older ferrets, though it isn't quite sure why.

Symptoms and Types

There are two main types of splenomegaly: diffuse and nodular. Their signs are often generalized; that is, the signs will reflect the underlying disease rather than splenic enlargement. However, most ferrets with splenomegaly will be have an enlarged spleen that can be identified through abdominal palpation.


A variety of things are known to cause an enlarged spleen, including an abdominal injury, infectious disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, bacterial infection, cell tumors of the spleen, and other immune disorders. Hypersplenism -- a syndrome in which red or white blood cells are removed at an abnormally high rate by the spleen -- is also known to precipitate splenomegaly, though it is rare in ferrets.


Upon examination, a prominent spleen or a protruding abdomen may be noticed. A fine needle aspiration may then be used to diagnose the spleen disorder. Also, ultrasounds and X-rays may be used to view the spleen and surrounding areas for abnormalities. In addition to imaging, blood, urine, and hormone level analysis will give a comprehensive review of all possible underlying medical issues.

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