Lower Urinary Tract Infection in Ferrets

PetMD Editorial
Jun 12, 2010
3 min read
Image: Photo Grapher / via Image Bank

Bacterial Cystitis in Ferrets

Bacteria invade and colonize in the urinary bladder and/or the upper portion of the urethra when the local defense system, which helps protect against infection, is impaired. Symptoms related to this type of bacterial infection include inflammation of the affected tissue and urinary difficulties.

Ferrets of all ages can be affected, but vulnerability increases as the animal gets older. In such cases, stone formation, prostate disease, and tumors are frequently seen. Additionally, females are more susceptible to bacterial infections of the lower urinary tract than males.

Symptoms and Types

Some ferrets with bacterial infections of the lower urinary tract may not show any signs, but many more do. A few of the more common signs include:

  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Blood in urine (hematuria)
  • Cloudy or smelly urine
  • Frequent urination, but only in small amounts
  • Urinary incontinence, especially during confinement or at places that are not customary (i.e., locations he has not peed before)
  • Urination when bladder is touched (occasional)

Causes

In addition to various types of bacteria, certain conditions that cause urine stagnation or incomplete emptying of the bladder may lead to lower urinary tract infections.

Diagnosis

You will need to give a thorough history of your ferret’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination as well a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC). Although the results of the CBC and biochemistry profile are often normal, urinalysis findings will provide valuable information for initial diagnosis.

For instance, pus, blood, or proteins are often seen in the urine. The urine sample, which is taken from the bladder with a syringe, is then cultured to grow the causative bacteria (allowing for sensitivity testing). Once the bacteria is identified, your veterinarian will recommend suitable antibiotics for treatment.

X-rays and ultrasonography of the lower urinary tract may also reveal the presence of stone or other abnormal lesion.

Treatment

Most ferrets recover without complications once the appropriate antibiotics are administered. However, it is important to identify the issue quickly, as such forms of lower urinary tract infections can travel up to kidneys, heart, and other areas, resulting in more severe complications.

Your pet will be treat as outpatient unless another urinary abnormality (e.g., obstruction) requires hospitalization. The prognosis for cure of a simple urinary tract infection is excellent; prognosis for complicated urinary tract infection depends on the underlying abnormality. It’s important that you follow your veterinarian’s recommendations to achieve a positive outcome. Except when an underlying disorder requires surgical intervention, management does not involve surgery.

Living and Management

Prognosis will ultimately depend on the diagnosis; however, most ferrets require little more than antibiotics to resolve the infection. In cases of severe and complicated infections with obstructions, surgery may be required. Dietary changes may also be implemented to prevent future episodes of stone formation.

Antibiotics should always be administered at the prescribed dosage and frequency. In addition, do not stop or alter treatment without prior consulting your veterinarian. If long-term antibiotic treatment is recommended, watch your ferret for adverse effects, such as allergies, and immediately call your veterinarian if they should arise.

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