What are Abnormally Large Kidneys?

No matter what the case, a ferret with renomegaly will experience deterioration in the overall function of these essential organs and several secondary organs that are vital in sustaining life. Abnormally large kidneys will also affect the functionality of the digestive, urinary, hormonal, nervous, and respiratory systems, so symptoms related to these bodily systems may also occur. If any of symptoms of renomegaly appear, the condition should be assessed and properly diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. 

Abnormally large kidneys in ferrets is termed renomegaly in the world of veterinary medicine, but simply means that one or both of the kidneys are larger than normal. Renomegaly can occur due to inflammation of the kidneys themselves caused by a kidney infection or cyst, but can also be caused by a urinary tract obstruction. 

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Symptoms of Abnormally Large Kidneys in Ferrets

A ferret suffering from renomegaly may not show clinical signs of the condition until the problem has reached a life-threatening state. Symptoms may also come and go and be severe or mild, but all symptoms are signs that your ferret is suffering from abnormally large kidneys. 

Common symptoms associated with abnormally large kidneys in ferrets include:

  • Abdominal distension 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale mucous membrane
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss 
  • Dehydration 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Lethargy   

Causes of Abnormally Large Kidneys in Ferrets

The possible causes of abnormally large kidneys in ferrets are numerous. A ferret could develop renomegaly due to a problem directly associated with the kidneys such as blood clots, inflammation, cysts, an infection, and a tumor of cancerous or noncancerous nature. Health issues with the urinary system have also been linked to abnormally large kidneys believed to be caused by hypertrophy. When the urinary system is infected or has been obstructed, the kidneys work twice as hard to filter out the body’s waste. Overworked kidneys soon become inflamed and grow in size. 

Diagnosis of Abnormally Large Kidneys in Ferrets

The veterinarian will begin the diagnostic process by reviewing the ferret’s medical history and having a consultation with the pet owner. It is important for you to inform the veterinarian about all recent behavior changes and clinical signs your ferret is displaying. Your ferret’s doctor will give your pet a physical examination, which will include a palpation exam revealing one or more enlarged kidneys. The veterinarian will confirm his/her diagnosis of renomegaly with an ultrasound and/or radiographs of the abdomen. In order to determine what has caused the kidneys to enlarge, a urinalysis and blood work will need to be obtained to search for infection or other abnormalities. A biopsy of the kidneys or an aspiration of the renal fluids may be necessary to pinpoint the underlying condition.

Treatment of Abnormally Large Kidneys in Ferrets

Treatment for abnormally large kidneys in ferrets will begin with treating the initial symptoms of dehydration with fluids therapy. If the ferret is malnourished, electrolytes and minerals will also be infused intravenously. The next step in treating abnormally large kidneys depends on the underlying condition causing the renal organs to enlarge. Antibiotics and pain medications are some of the most commonly prescribed treatment options for ferrets with this condition.

Recovery of Abnormally Large Kidneys in Ferrets

If you have caught on to the clinical signs of renomegaly, your ferret has a very good chance of making a fast and full recovery. The key to a positive prognosis is following veterinary recommendation and administering all prescription medications. Dietary changes may be necessary for the duration of treatment, but may change at the next veterinary follow-up appointment. Follow-up appointments will be necessary to ensure your ferret is recovering and the treatment plant the veterinarian put in place is working effectively. If at any time your ferret’s symptoms return, contact your veterinarian promptly. A more severe underlying condition may be hidden and a reevaluation of your pet may be necessary.