Oral examination results in rescued ferrets: clinical findings

Ferrets have increased in popularity as pets, and a growing number are seen in companion animal practice. Domestic ferrets are commonly used as animal models for research of human oral conditions. The present study evaluated the prevalence of oral pathology in rescued ferrets which – to the authors’ knowledge – has not yet been described in the scientific literature. Conscious oral examination was performed on 63 ferrets, of which 49 underwent general anesthesia for further examination. The most common clinical findings included malocclusion of mandibular second incisor teeth (95.2 per cent); extrusion of canine teeth (93.7 per cent); and abrasion and attrition of teeth (76.2 per cent). Tooth fractures were exclusively associated with canine teeth and found in 31.7 per cent of ferrets. Pulp exposure was confirmed in 60.0 per cent of fractured teeth. The normal gingival sulcus depth measured < 0.5-mm in 87.8 per cent of anesthetized ferrets. Clinical evidence of periodontal disease was present in 65.3 per cent of anesthetized ferrets (gingivitis or probing depths > 0.5-mm), however advanced periodontal disease (ie periodontal pockets > 2-mm or stage 3 furcation exposure) was not found upon clinical examination. There was no evidence of tooth resorption, dental caries, stomatitis, or oral tumors in the examined group of ferrets. The report is from the Matthew J Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Eroshin VV, Reiter AM, Rosenthal K, et al. J Vet Dent 2011 Spring; 28(1):8-15.