At Donaldsons’, we really do treat all creatures, great and small.
From 700kg bulls and 18 hand horses to gerbils and hamsters….life is never dull. The size of an animal can have quite a bearing on the treatment protocol and one of the marks of a good mixed-species practice is the ability to tailor treatment to the requirements of the individual animal.
For several years now, we have provided veterinary treatment for Prospect Ferret rescue who are based in Almondbury and provide a fabulous service for lost or unwanted ferrets from across the area. Visitors to the Maple Street surgery may be familiar with the cat baskets of ferrets that are often to be found in our waiting room as ferrets are admitted or discharged from the hospital.
While the distinctive musty smell may not be to everyone’s liking, ferrets make fantastic fun pets who can give a huge amount of pleasure and, after neutering, the aroma from most ferrets is much more palatable.
Recently we had an unusual ferret case where treatment was made more complicated by the tiny size of the patient.
Tinkerbell, the white ferret was presented with a lame foreleg. On examination, I thought that her elbow felt swollen but, because of the size of the affected limb and Tinkerbell’s wriggling, it was difficult to be certain of her injury so she was admitted for X ray.
Under anaesthetic, the xrays revealed that she had a dislocated elbow. Manipulation of the dislocation quickly moved the tiny bones back into position but the muscle and ligament structures where badly stretched and so the elbow lacked stability and re-dislocated as soon as it was flexed and extended.
External support with dressings would not give sufficient support to prevent the problem recurring so we elected for surgical stabilisation.
4 pins, 1/2mm thick, were placed through the skin and into the bones, 2 above the elbow and 2 below the elbow. Inserting the pins into the bones was a real challenge as the bones measured less than 1 1.5 mm in diameter. The 4 pins were connected to a bar with a fast-setting acrylic putty to temporarily immobilise the elbow and a further X ray was taken to ensure that everything looked just as it should.
The frame should only need to stay on for a week to allow the muscles to repair then we hope she will get full use of the leg.
Ferrets are robust little animals and, despite being temporarily unable to bend the elbow, Tinkerbell continues to scurry about as if nothing has happened