Vaginal discharge refers to any unusual substance coming from the animal's vagina such as mucus, blood, or pus. Depending in part on the age and reproductive status of the ferret (blood discharge is normal in young intact females, but is of concern in older spayed females) or presence of underlying diseases, the discharge may originate from various sources, including the urinary tract, uterus, vagina, or surrounding skin. In fact, because there are so many causes for vaginal discharge, consulting with a veterinarian is highly recommended.
Symptoms and Types
Vaginal discharge is typically seen in sexually mature females between the ages of 8 to 12 months old, especially those that have gone through recent estrus. The discharge, which may appear clear, bloody, mucoid, bloody, or have pus, can attract males. Moreover, it not only affects the ferret's reproductive system but the renal and skin systems, too. Common signs associated with vaginal discharge include:
- Swollen external genitalia
- Bilaterally symmetric hair loss
Vaginal discharge may be due to a variety of causes, including:
- Urinary tract infection
- Foreign body
- Vaginal tumors or injury
- Death of a fetus (in uterus)
- Vaginal blood clot
- Infection in the vaginal passage
Your veterinarian will physically examine the ferret and perform blood and urine analysis on the animal to rule out other diseases associated with the aforementioned symptoms. X-rays and ultrasounds may also be used, as well as tissue cultures if cancer is suspected.
The course of treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the vaginal discharge. If the ferret has a urinary tract infection, for example, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics. That is, unless the ferret is pregnant. Typically hospitalization is not needed, though severe forms of this condition may require blood transfusions, hormone therapy, intravenous electrolyte and fluid therapy, and/or surgery to remove the uterus, ovaries, and sometimes a diseased adrenal gland or cancer.
Living and Management
Your veterinarian will recommend regular follow-up X-rays and ultrasounds to check on the animal's progress.