Abnormally Large Kidneys in Ferrets

By PetMD Editorial on Jun. 21, 2010

Renomegaly in Ferrets

This is a condition where one or both kidneys become abnormally large, confirmed by abdominal palpation, ultrasounds, or X-rays. It can occur due to the presence of cysts, swelling due to kidney infection, inflammation, or urinary tract obstruction, among other other things. Renomegaly can affect all the ferret's body systems: respiratory, nervous, hormonal, urinary and digestive. Typically, it is seen in middle-aged to older ferrets.

Symptoms and Types

There are occasions when the ferret is asymptomatic, or does not display any signs whatsoever. However, some of the more common symptoms seen in ferrets with renomegaly include:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Pale mucous membrane
  • Abdominal pain and distension



The kidneys may become abnormally large as a result of inflammation, infection, or cancer. Renomegaly can also occur due to urinary tract obstruction, formation of cysts in the urinary tract, inflammatory conditions, and blood clots in the kidneys.


In addition to a complete blood profile and a urinalysis, a palpation exam and X-rays may be used to assist your veterinarian in visualizing the abnormality in the kidney size, and thus diagnose your ferret's condition. Aspiration of renal fluid and a biopsy is another procedure often used in ferrets suspected of having renomegaly.



Your ferret will be treated on an outpatient basis unless it is suffering from dehydration or renal failure. Treatment will begin with diagnosing and treating the underlying cause, maintaining fluid balance with intravenous fluids if necessary, and replenishing minerals and electrolytes. If your ferret is otherwise healthy, a normal diet and normal exercise will be advised.

Drugs prescribed by your veterinarian will vary according to the underlying cause of renomegaly. However, drugs that may have a toxic effect on the kidneys should be avoided.

Living and Management

Your veterinarian will want to see your ferret during regular follow-up examinations, where he or she will assess the animal's physical recovery and hydration status.

If your ferret's symptoms return, you will need to contact the veterinarian immediately. Possible complications of renomegaly include kidney failure and hormone imbalances that mimic hormone-producing cancers.

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