Message Number: YG968 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Diane Burman
Date: 2001-03-09 11:14:00 UTC
Subject: Re: [Ferret-Health-list] Re: Renal Failure

Katherine -

I have been reluctant to answer your question since the first
time you posed it because I am *not* a vet or even a vet tech.
I'm hoping that a vet will jump in to clarify and better
explain (and correct where necessary) what I am about to
write. I have had a cat that was diagnosed with Chronic Renal
Failure (CRF). I was able to maintain her quality of life for
about 8 months with sub-cu fluids and medication when needed.
So what I am about to write is based on my understanding of
what my cat went through.

The failing kidneys are unable to concentrate urine like
healthy ones. They also are not removing the byproducts of
metabolism (toxins) from the blood stream as efficiently as
they should. The animal urinates large volumes of dilute
urine. If they aren't drinking enough water they will
dehydrate. The sub-cu fluids are given to help prevent
dehydration and the more fluid going in - the more will pass
through the kidneys and help flush the toxins in the blood

As the kidneys continue to fail the toxins build up in the
system. I can't speak to ferrets but with cats, the animal can
suffer nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, loss of appetite and
other digestive symptoms. My gut feeling is that what your
ferret is experiencing is likely the progression of the kidney
disease. It sounds like the toxins may have reached a level
that is causing him to experience nausea and lack of appetite.
With cats there are some medications that can be used that
might help with the symptoms and improve appetite. I have *no*
idea if any of these would be appropriate for a ferret though.
There is an excellent website (and mailing list) dedicated to
CRF in cats. You might want to read thru it and share it with
your vet. It's possible that the two of you might find
something there that will be helpful and appropriate for your
fuzzy. The most important thing is the fluids by mouth and
sub-cu (to help flush those toxins that are making him feel
lousy) and to keep the ferret eating. Quite a few cats with
CRF become very picky in their eating habits (probably because
their stomachs are feeling upset - again those toxins) and
will refuse to eat their "kidney diet". At that point many
owners will add back in the foods the cat once enjoyed eating,
figuring it's better for the cat to eat something rather than
not eating anything. The kidney diet isn't doing them any good
if they won't eat it.

Here is the URL for the CRF website I mentioned:

I wish you & your fuzzy the very best. Kidney failure is a
tough one. I recently was told that my elderly ferret (about
10yo) isn't concentrating his urine well. As far as I know
that means he's beginning kidney failure. Thankfully he's
still seems to feel well and is eating well but I have to keep
the fluids going in him to keep him hydrated. I've been
watching the responses you have received hoping there might be
some help for my guy as well.

Diane & the gang

Dr. Ruth:
Are you saying that his most recent lethargy,
licking, and flat ferreting may be related to his
fluid intake (quantity) rather than a tummy
problem (which is what I thought it was)?