What is Hydronephrosis Due to Obstruction?

The ureter is the duct through which urine and waste products pass from the kidneys to the bladder. If a blockage of this duct occurs, a condition known as hydronephrosis can occur, in which the fluids that would normally be expelled build up inside the kidney. This accumulation of fluid, and possible leaching into the surrounding tissues, can result in extremely unpleasant symptoms for the ferret, which can worsen if the condition is left untreated.

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Symptoms of Hydronephrosis Due to Obstruction in Ferrets

Handily, the symptoms caused by a blockage of the ureter are easily spotted, giving ferret owners ample time to seek veterinary advice.

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Bloody Urine
  • Abdominal Pain 

As the kidney fills with liquid and starts to swell, it puts a significant amount of strain both on itself and on the tissues and organs surrounding it. The discomfort and sensitivity this causes can place the ferret under a great deal of stress, causing it to become defensive in its behavior and possibly motivating it to respond violently if its owner attempts to touch its abdomen. 

Causes of Hydronephrosis Due to Obstruction in Ferrets

The three most common causes of ureteral obstructions that lead to fluid buildup are cysts, tumors, and stones. Cysts are simply pockets of fluid within tissues that occur for various reasons. The most common causes of cysts are adrenal and lymphatic disorders that disrupt the regulation of various hormones and enzymes within the ferret's body. Although they are benign and will not spread, the cysts can rapidly increase in size, which can cause problems beyond a simple duct blockage. Much like cysts, tumors will grow over time as well, though they are more likely to spread through the body with potentially lethal consequences. Most tumors in small animals are due to genetic defects, with the condition being passed down through generations of ferrets. Kidney stones are simply a waste byproduct, created when the urine of the ferret is consistently acidic (usually due to poor hydration). The acids in the urine solidify into sharp crystals that easily get lodged in the ureter, getting larger over time and preventing the passing of urine. 

Diagnosis of Hydronephrosis Due to Obstruction in Ferrets

When the ferret is brought to the clinic, the vet will perform a simple physical examination in order to confirm the symptoms. An x-ray or ultrasound scan may be used to look for obstructions. In order to determine the nature of the obstruction, a biopsy is usually performed. This can either be done via the use of exploratory surgery or by inserting a needle-like probe into the mass. Once a tissue sample is obtained, the vet will know for sure what kind of growth it is and whether or not it is benign.

Treatment of Hydronephrosis Due to Obstruction in Ferrets

Stones, cysts, and tumors of the kidney are typically removed via direct surgery, as this allows for the complete excision of the problem and an almost immediate regaining of proper organ function. Additionally, the vet may utilize fluid therapy in order to properly hydrate the animal and flush lingering waste products out of the kidneys by provoking urination.

Recovery of Hydronephrosis Due to Obstruction in Ferrets

Following surgery, it will be vital for the ferret to receive proper aftercare. This means that the owners will have to restrict the animal's movements to prevent the opening of the surgical wound and conserve its energy, as well as providing the necessary painkillers and antibiotics. In most cases, the ferret will make a full recovery in approximately four weeks. That said, the vet will most likely want to schedule a follow up visit to check the progress of the healing and to run any further tests that may be required (especially if a tumor was present). If kidney stones were responsible for the blockage, it is important for owners to ensure that the ferret is properly hydrated at all times to prevent a recurrence of the condition.