If your ferret strains to urinate, that's a red alert veterinary emergency. Urinary tract infections in ferrets run the gamut from blockages that can quickly turn life-threatening, to a ferret peeing so much he becomes dehydrated. No matter which end of the spectrum your pet falls on, take him to the vet at once.
Urinary Tract Infections
Your ferret's lower urinary tract infection could result from bacteria, or some other inflammation of his urinary tract. In a worst-case scenario, stones form in his bladder, obstructing his urethra so he can't pee. As if the stones weren't enough of an issue, they can actually cause a bacterial infection because the hard matter constantly irritates the lining of the bladder and urethra. Your ferret could also develop cysts in his urethra, which can lead to bacterial infection, according to the Fresno Pet and Emergency Referral Clinic. Cysts can also lead to prostate enlargement and infection in the form of abscesses.
Signs and Symptoms
If your ferret is in and out of the litter box frequently, something's the matter. He could be straining to urinate or flooding the box. You might hear him cry out from pain while unsuccessfully attempting to pee. Your ferret could bite or lick his genitals, trying to ease his discomfort. He could also start peeing outside the litter box, in different places around the house.
Check the litter box to see if your pet is passing urine. If he is, it's possibly bloody, very smelly or contains pus. While blockages occur far more often in male ferrets, females aren't immune.
To find out what's causing your ferret's urinary problems, your vet will conduct a physical examination, along with taking blood for testing along with a urinalysis, if your ferret can pass any urine. She'll take an X-ray or ultrasound to see if your ferret's suffering from bladder stones or cysts.
Treatment depends on the cause. If a urinalysis reveals bacteria and your ferret is able to pee, your vet might prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection. For a simple infection, that usually does the trick. If your ferret experiences a blockage, surgery is necessary to save his life. After the procedure, he'll require intravenous fluids to keep him hydrated. If the X-rays or ultrasound indicate the presence of stones but he's not blocked, your vet might prescribe medication that eventually dissolves the stones. This option depends on the type of stone involved. Struvite stones, resulting from excessive alkalinity, can be dissolved with medication. Calcium oxalate stones caused by too much acidity won't dissolve and must be surgically removed. Your vet will recommend a diet, either low in acidity or alkalinity depending on your pet's condition, to prevent future stone formation. If cysts cause his infection, your vet will surgically remove them.
ferret image by Olga Barbakadze from Fotolia.com
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.