Renal Failure in Ferrets
Failure of the kidney -- which among other things regulates blood pressure, blood sugar, blood volume, water composition in the blood, and pH levels, and produces red blood cells and certain hormones -- can take so place so slowly, that by the time the symptoms have become obvious, it may be too late to treat the condition effectively. As a result, kidney failure is a condition that should be taken seriously by pet owners.
As a result of renal failure, there is decreased ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine, leading to accumulation of toxic chemicals in the body.
Symptoms and Types
There are two types of kidney failure: acute renal failure, which occurs as a sudden onset syndrome; and chronic renal failure, which is caused due to a more long-standing disease.
Acute renal failure (ARF)
- Sudden loss of appetite, tremors, seizures
- Depression, dehydration, poor hair coat
- Diarrhea, vomiting, fever, increased heart rate
Chronic renal failure (CRF)
- Loss of appetite, excessive salivation, weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting
- Lethargy, poor hair coat, seizure or coma
- Abnormally large or small kidneys
The most common causes of kidney failure in ferrets include:
- Heart failure
- Exposure to toxins
- Kidney or bladder disease
- Drug toxicity
- Diabetes mellitus
Your ferret will undergo a complete blood profile, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Ferrets with renal failure may have anemia, abnormal electrolyte levels, and elevated blood pressure. The levels of certain protein enzymes and chemicals such as creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) will also be high.
Another good indicator of renal failure is urine that is neither concentrated or dilute, thus indicating the kidney's inability to process the urine correctly.
X-ray or ultrasound imaging may be used to observe the size and shape of the ferret's kidney(s) to see if there are any visibly noticeable abnormalities. Often, kidney failure causes kidneys to become abnormally small or large.