From Ferret

Nephritis is a common inflammatory kidney disease of mustelids worldwide and a leading cause of death in geriatric patients[1].

Early lesions can be seen as early as 2 years, and advanced cases resulting in renal failure may occur as early as 4.5 years.

The progression of the disease is most akin to that seen in feline renal disease.

Diagnosis is based on presenting clinical signs of weight loss, intermittent anorexia and polyuria. Haematological examination usually reveals elevated creatinine[2] and blood urea nitrogen. Ultrasonographic studies usually reveal hypoechoic renal structures and reduced renal diameter.

The most common finding on postmortem is chronic interstitial nephritis[3]. Kidneys are generally pitted and large focal depressions may be seen in the outer cortex as a result of scarring.

A differential diagnosis would also include adrenocortical adenocarcinoma, which commonly present with similar signs, as well as alopecia and pruritus.

Nephritis and renomegaly have also been associated with concurrent diseases such as renal cysts[4], coronaviral infection[5] and amyloidosis.

Treatments for this condition usually involve supportive drug therapy aimed at reducing renal hyperperfusion with ACE-inhibitors, and maintaining hydration status with subcutaneous fluids.

Dietary changes may be indicated, primarily focused on lowering protein intake in ferrets over three years of age to minimize underlying ammonemia associated with the consumption of high-meat diets.


  1. Bronson E et al (2007) Mortality of captive black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) at Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, 1989-2004. J Zoo Wildl Med 38(2):169-176
  2. Esteves MI et al (1994) Estimation of glomerular filtration rate and evaluation of renal function in ferrets (Mustela putorius furo). Am J Vet Res 55(1):166-172
  3. Orcutt CJ (2003)Ferret urogenital diseases. Vet Clin North Am Exot Anim Pract 6(1):113-138
  4. Jackson CN et al (2008) Cystic renal disease in the domestic ferret. Comp Med 58(2):161-167
  5. Dominguez E et al (2011) Abdominal radiographic and ultrasonographic findings in ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) with systemic coronavirus infection. Vet Rec 169(9):231