Message Number: YG4818 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-06-23 22:35:00 UTC
Subject: Re: question

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "Cyndy Nelson" <cyndynelson@h...>
> Hello All-
> I don't post much (not at all lately) but have a vet appointment on
Monday and would like some input before then.
> I have a little guy that hasn't had hair on his tail for about a
year. The hair starts to grow back and falls out. He has many
blackheads that are difficult to get rid of. I don't know his
history, although a gal that runs a shelter in Seattle looked at him
and said he looked like he had been malnutritioned. He eats well,
and is a major sleeper compaired to my other little gal, but I have
decided they are all different.
> Lately, (last 2 weeks at the most) he only pees a very small,
quarter sized amount. Normally he will flood the floor and leave.
(you know ferretss, why use the box when you have the whole kitchen
floor?) He urinates often and it looks like he is maybe straining
somewhat. He doesn't cry out in pain, but you see the muscles
contracting on him as he is trying to get it out.
> The vet wants a urine sample, and said he might have crystals in
the urethra? Is that something common with ferrets? I have had this
problem with one of my guinea pigs and he had bladder surgery to
remove a stone, but I didn't know ferrets would do the same. The vet
said we might have to stick the bladder with a syringe and take some
urine out. (sounds awful to me)
> I just wondered if the two things, hairless tail and straining to
urinate, could possibly have anything to do with each other?
> The poor little guy doesn't walk right, his back has a permanent
curve in it. He can't flatten out like the girl and go under very
low objects. I have no idea what he was fed before I got him from
the family that didn't want him anymore. He now eats The Ferret
Store brand food.

Dear Cyndy -

There may be a common thread here between the hair loss and straining
to urinate. Ferrets with adrenal disease may show hair loss
(although tail hair loss is not specific) and prostatic disease
(which compromises the ability to urinate) due to the production of
excessive levels of estrogen. Adrenal disease should definitely be
discussed at your Monday visit.

However, you should also realize that the two conditions may be
totally separate events. Crystalluria is occasionall seen in
ferrets, but today is seen much less frequently than the dysuria of
prostate disease. Neoplasia of the lower urinary tract, to include
the prepuce may also compromise urination, but these tumors are quite

Cystocentesis (removing urine from the bladder via a needle inserted
through the body wall, is a useful test which is less traumatic then
it sounds. However, to be performed successfully, the ferret must be
calm (sometimes lightly anesthetized, and have a full bladder. This
test is excellent for identifying bladder infections and may even be
useful in the diagnosis of some neoplasms. Any blood, inflammation,
or bacteria seen in a cysto sample, by definition, MUST have arisen
in the kidney, ureter or bladder.

Good luck on Monday

bruce williams,d VM