Cystic Renal Disease

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    Renal diseases described in ferrets include:

    • Acquired Hydronephrosis (a condition that typically occurs when one kidney becomes swollen due to the failure of normal drainage of urine from the kidney to the bladder)
    • Chronic Interstitial Nephritis ( a kidney condition characterized by swelling in between the kidney tubules)
    • Immune Complex Glomerulonephritis (acute inflammation of the kidney)
    • Pyelonephritis ( a sudden and severe kidney infection)
    • Renal Calculi (stones)
    • Renal Cysts
    • Toxic Nephropathy (adverse functional or structural changes in the kidney due to the effect of a chemical or biological product that is inhaled, ingested, injected, or otherwise absorbed, or that yields toxic metabolites)
    • Tumors

    Signs & Symptoms

    Renal cysts may be one or more in number and affect one or both kidneys. Often cysts do not cause a problem for the ferret and will go undetected until found during routine physical examination. Cysts do cause a problem when a significant amount of the renal structure is disrupted by the size of the cysts.

    Signs among ferrets with primary polycystic disease include weight loss, decreased appetite, lethargy/weakness, increased thirst and urination, difficulty or discomfort in swallowing, diarrhea, melena (dark sticky feces containing partly digested blood), vomiting, ptyalism (excessive salivation), seizure and trembling.


    There is no treatment for bilateral cystic disease. If one kidney is compromised, it can be removed. Those ferrets that show no ill effects from polycystic disease do not require medical or surgical intervention.


    1. Courtnye N Jackson, Arlin B Rogers, Kirk J Maurer, Jennifer LS Lofgren, James G Fox, Robert P Marini – Cystic Renal Disease In The Domestic Ferret
    2. Mark A. Mitchell, Thomas N. Tully – Manual of Exotic Pet Practice


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