Objectives: To assess the feasibility of performing electrocardiography (ECG) and echocardiography on conscious ferrets and to establish reference values for this species under these conditions.
Methods: End-systolic and end-diastolic left ventricular (LV) diameters, LV and interventricular septal thicknesses were measured by M-mode echocardiography, while left atrial, aortic and pulmonary trunk diameters were determined by two-dimensional echocardiography in 46 ferrets. In some animals the maximum velocities of blood flow in the aorta and the pulmonary trunk were also measured by spectral Doppler. ECG examinations were performed by using limb leads both in right lateral recumbency and in the so-called “hanging” position. In the course of the ECG examinations (n=43), the occurrences, directions, durations and amplitudes of the P, QRS and T waves and the duration of the PR- and QT intervals were recorded for all six leads.
Results: ECG and echocardiography were successfully performed on non-sedated ferrets in 90 and 96% of the cases, respectively. Males were significantly heavier and had larger cardiac dimensions compared to females.
Clinical Significance: Performance of both echocardiography and ECG are feasible techniques in conscious ferrets, and reference values are now available for future comparisons.