What is Kidney Failure?

There are two types of kidney failure: acute and chronic. Acute kidney failure is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms, while chronic kidney failure is characterized by a slow onset of symptoms that could appear over the course of several months. Some of the symptoms you may observe include dehydration, excessive thirst, increase or decrease in urination, and vomiting. 

Both acute and chronic kidney failure are life-threatening conditions that require immediate medical attention from a veterinarian. If you spot any of the symptoms of kidney failure in your ferret, take him to a veterinarian as soon as you can.

The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste from the blood, among other essential functions. If the kidneys begin to lose function, the condition is known as kidney failure. When the kidneys begin to fail, it is a sign that your ferret is suffering from an underlying health condition such as heart failure, diabetes, or toxicity.

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Symptoms of Kidney Failure in Ferrets

Symptoms will either begin suddenly or slowly depending on the type of kidney failure your ferret has. If your ferret has acute kidney failure, he will begin to exhibit symptoms suddenly and all at once, while if he has chronic kidney failure, they will slowly develop over time. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in water consumption
  • Changes in urination frequency

Causes of Kidney Failure in Ferrets

If your ferret has kidney failure, it indicates that there is an underlying condition that needs to be treated immediately. Some of the conditions that commonly lead to kidney failure include:

  • Consumption of toxins
  • Heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Reaction to medication
  • Kidney disease
  • Bladder disease

Diagnosis of Kidney Failure in Ferrets

If you notice that your ferret has any of the symptoms of kidney failure, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Let the vet know what symptoms you have observed and when they first began. You should also fill the vet in on any other health conditions your ferret may have been diagnosed with in the past.

The vet will begin by performing complete blood count, urinalysis, and blood chemistry profile tests. Abnormal electrolyte levels, signs of anemia, and elevated levels of proteins, creatinine, and blood urea nitrogen indicate that there is an issue with your ferret’s kidneys. The concentration of your ferret’s urine and the presence of crystals could also help the vet make a kidney failure diagnosis. 

The vet will need to determine the underlying cause of kidney failure. This may be possible by analyzing the results of the three tests mentioned above, but further tests may be needed. An ultrasound may be performed to look at the kidney and bladder, or the vet may need to test the strength of your ferret’s heart.

Treatment of Kidney Failure in Ferrets

Treatment for kidney failure will begin immediately following the diagnosis. The exact treatment that is performed will vary greatly depending on the cause of the kidney failure and the severity of your ferret’s condition. Some causes, such as heart failure, may not be treatable. However, other conditions such as diabetes can be treated with medication. If your ferret has acute kidney failure, he will most likely need to remain under the vet’s care since this indicates the organs are failing very quickly.

Ferrets with dehydration caused by kidney failure will need to receive fluids intravenously, however, this should be done cautiously to prevent fluid buildup. There’s also a possibility that your ferret is suffering from overhydration, meaning he is not urinating enough. In this case, the vet can administer diuretics to increase the frequency of urination.

The vet will carefully monitor your ferret’s condition throughout treatment. The amount of urine he is producing will be watched closely. This serves as a good indicator as to whether the treatment is effective or needs to be adjusted.

Recovery of Kidney Failure in Ferrets

Recovery rates vary greatly depending on the cause of the kidney failure and the severity of your ferret’s condition when you take him in for treatment. Acute kidney failure can quickly lead to death if there are complications. Chronic kidney failure, on the other hand, may be manageable at first but then worsen over time. 

Before bringing your ferret home, talk to the vet about his diet. You will most likely need to make adjustments, including limiting his intake of salt and adjusting the levels of fluids he drinks. You should also closely monitor your pet and immediately contact the vet if you notice that your ferret’s condition is beginning to worsen. 

If your ferret has been prescribed medication, be sure to administer it as advised by the vet. Never administer a medication to your ferret without talking to the vet first to determine if it is safe.