Bladder Stones in Ferrets

In recent years bladder stones in pet ferrets have become more common. They have been occurring mainly in young ferrets only a year or two old. As yet, there is no explanation of why this is happening.

Bladder stones (another name is uroliths) form in the bladder. They are made of crystals that cling to each other creating small stones. A too acidic or alkaline urine which upsets the pH balance causes the crystals to form. Often, diet and UTIs (urinary tract infections) can change the pH of the urine and there are no ferret foods available to control pH.

Cystine uroliths are more common in ferrets than in cats and dogs. Struvite and calcium uroliths affect all 3 species.

There is a possibility that foods too high in protein or a defect in the kidneys are causing cystine crystals. Struvite and calcium crystals form when a ferret’s diet is high in plant-based foods.

Symptoms of bladder problems in your ferret can be frequent urination producing only small amounts of urine, straining to urinate, vocalizations when urinating, dribbling.

Diagnosis is made through x-ray or ultrasound. Surgery may be required to remove the stones and an antibiotic prescribed to prevent or treat any infection.

Choosing a diet for your ferret depends on which bladder stones were present. You can also have the pH of the urine checked. Discuss with your vet which diet is appropriate to help keep your ferret free of bladder stones.

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