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Ferrets/urinary trouble


QUESTION: I have a 2 yr old neutered male. He has a brother from the same litter also with us. He was having trouble urinating, his bladder was huge, I took him to the vet. She used  catheter and drained his bladder, she said his urine was "crystally" she gave me an anti-biotic to give him as well as an anti-inflammatory. she told me the more protein he has in his diet would help prevent this. it has been one week and he was doing well, now he is starting to strain to pee again. any ideas on how  can prevent this for him? he is eating and drinking normally and his normal self otherwise. Thanks for your help.


Did your vet do an xray of the ferret?  I had a ferret with same symptoms and ended up he became unable to urinate (goes in and out, in and out of litterbox frantically because their bladder is full and cannot empty it - THIS IS AN EMERGENCY WHEN IT HAPPENS, SO WATCH HIM CLOSELY KNOWING HE IS HAVING PROBLEMS, K??  Anyway, I had to have mine put to sleep at only age two because it turned out he had a huge tumor in his bladder that was inoperable.  For that reason I would recommend an xray ASAP.   He could be suffering/IS SUFFERING if he is going in and out of the box frantically.

If he is only straining a bit, you may help him by adding a bit of cranberry juice to his water.....about 1/4 cranberry to 3/4 water.


Speaking of would be best if he has ONLY REVERSE OSMOSIS TREATED bottled water! Possibly even 1/2 r/o bottled and 1/2 DISTILLED WATER.  We do not usually recommend distilled water to drink, as it has all minerals removed, which is a great source of minerals for peiople and ferrets, BUT since your ferret seems to have an abundance of crystals (i.e., calcium and lime specifically in city water sources), it would help him to cut down on the minerals.  I assume you have been giving him tap water to drink previously?  Tap water always has lots of minerals in it, sometimes too much, especially for a ferrets tiny little  urethra, so they can become full of accummulated crystals and become blocked.

IF ( and I stress IF) he only has too many minerals in his system built up from drinking tap water, the cranberry juice/distilled water mixture should help rid him of those, then follow up by giving only bottled water (NOT spring water, but water that has been processed by reverse osmosis as it removes a lot of the extra gunk that causes crystals to form (spring water still has all minerals in it) and distilled water (with no minerals at all), he should get a few minerals from the r/o water and yet enough fluids via distilled water without minerals to help prevent further problems.

In the future, it would be best to always give all ferrets or other small pets ONLY reverse osmosis treated water to drink to prevent this problem if given from the time they are babies.  All small pets would be subject to the same problems if drinking tap water.  I give mine only reverse osmose treated (bottled, but read the label to be sure it has been processed by reverse osmosis, some bottled 'drinking water' is simply what someone considers 'good' tap water - it will say so on the label if it is reverse osmosis treated water.

Please do consider getting an xray if not already; and know that inability to pass urine is a Class 1 EMERGENCY....meaning you need to call a vet even in the middle of the  night even if ferret begins going in and out, in and out of litterbox.  That indicates horrible suffering and can result in a ruptured bladder and certain death.

Hope that helps and answers your question.  I would like to invite you to join my Facebook Group for ferret owners.  The online group is called  THUNDERING FERRET PAWS....hope to see you there!

Jacquie Rodgers

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Took him to the hospital last night. Adrenal disease. Thank you so much. I will give him and his brother RO water only from now on.

Hi again Jo:

I am so sorry to hear about your ferret having adrenal disease. No doubt swelling of the ferrets prostate gland is what caused the urinary problems (but RO water is still recommended for all ferrets).  Adrenal caused prostate swelling can be extremely painful and even deadly, so hope you will look at treating the adrenal disease ASAP.   have gone thru that several times with my ferrets also.  Thought I would share my experience with you in hopes of saving you time as far as treatments .  I am attaching an article ny Dr. Bruce Williams, a ferret expert vet in which he discusses in detail all aspects of adrenal disease and various treatments including surgery.  Hopefully this knowledge will be helpful to you.  You are going to have to make some decisions regarding treatment and knowledge and learning from others experiences is always helpful before making a decision like this.

With my own  (elderly) adrenal ferrets, I have given the Lupron Depot injections when not surgical candidates (see "non-surgical options" in Dr Williams articles) due to old age (age 6 or more) and they were excellent at extending life at a very high level of functioning - I don't think the ferret even felt sick for at least two years or more! The injections do not CURE the disease, but they do almost immediately relieve symptoms, even prostate swelling that causes difficulty urinating.  I can give you the name of the pharmacy I ordered directly from if that would be helpful.  The injections must be given by a vet in the muscle, but you can probably buy the medicine for the vet to inject cheaper yourself.  But overall I have found that surgery as soon as possible seems to be the most effective, especially at ages 2-5 years old.  The ferret then generally goes on to live a normal life, regrowing fur, without worries of prostate swelling that occurs in male ferrets with adrenal disease (no doubt what your little guy was suffering when your vet said it was due to crystls in urine).   If I may, I would recommend you follow up with the vet who diagnosed adrenl disease and talk about approximately how many adrenal surgeries they do on ferrets yearly (or who they recommend for surgery), mortality rate, etc.   If you do get the surgery, be sure to ask many questions to be sure the vet you have do the surgery is very experienced.  Sometimes prices can range between $200 to $2,000 within the same city, so do not hesitate to call around other vets in the area who specialize in exotics for a price quote.  The most experienced is sometimes alo the cheapest because they are already set up for minute surgeries on tiny patients. Sometimes even traveling to a nearby larger city opens up a larger number of qualified exotics pecialists and the prices will be lower. I live in a small town where it can cost upwards of $1,500 for adrenal surgery, but I traveled 3-hours to the nearest large city and had the best vet in the city do the surgery for only $ please be sure to check it out.

Here is Dr Williams artivles on adrenal disease, symptoms, possible treatments, surgery, etc.  If I can be of any further help, please don't hesitate to write again or come join THUNDERING FERRET PAWS, we have several articles on adrenal surgery there.......adrenal disease in a ferret under age 3 certainly is NOT a death sentence!  :-)   Here is Dr Williams articles:

Hope that helps!

Jacquie Rodgers


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Jacquie Rodgers


PLEASE READ ALL BEFORE ASKING QUESTIONS... WHAT I CAN DO: Being a ferret owner for 20 years, I can answer questions re: general care, cage ideas & requirements, healthy foods and snacks, safety issues, ferretproofing play areas, common causes of intestinal blockages, appropriate housing, litterbox training, making bathtime fun, toys, games galore, outdoor trips, "Do`s and Don'ts, traveling w/ferrets by car or RV, safe environmental temperatures & keeping your ferret cool in summer (NOT A FAN!!), setting up a hospital cage, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), helicobacter (ulcers), adrenal disease symptoms & care,intestinal blockages, helping your ferret recover quickly/safely from surgery; common problems of ferret ownership, illnesses; care of sick or injured ferrets, hospice/palliative care, facing & coping with your ferret's death, choices that must be made when a ferret dies, memorializing your pet online and in your daily life. #1 TIP: FIND AN EXOTICS VET BEFORE YOU GET A VET...IF YOU WAIT, YOU MAY FIND YOU HAVE TO DRIVE UP TO 6-HRS TO GET TO A PROPER VET!..if you did not find one first, be WILLING to drive as far as possible for proper care. AND.... #2 TIP: FERRETS ARE EXPENSIVE TO FEED, HOUSE, VET & CARE FOR PROPERLY...IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD ONE/OR NOT READY TO SACRIFICE, PLEASE DON'T GET ONE!! A FERRET IS NOT LIKE HAVING A CAT OR DOG!! THEY REQUIRE MORE TIME, ENERGY, CARE AND MONEY to properly care for them. Prepare to spend up to $8,000-$10,000 OVER A FERRETS LIFETIME (6 to 8 years usually) FOR NECESSITIES & VET CARE. WHAT I CAN`T DO: I can`t take the place of your ferret vet; if your ferret appears sick,PLEASE have your ferret examined by a ferret vet .TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE FOR A SICK FERRET - PLEASE, IF IN DOUBT, GET THEM TO A VET! 24- hours of a ferret not eating/drinking may kill your ferret! NEVER FORCE FEED A SICK..he may choke. Sub-Q or IV fluids from your vet who is not eating WILL help save his life IF he gets it in time.


I have nursed ferrets through many illnesses, an injury, and a variety of diseases over the years.Ferrets are so very delicate, yet incredibly strong-willed; a well-loved ferret will fight courageously to live if given proper medical care, close monitoring, and especially lots of TLC.& LOVE. A ferret can entertain for hours on end when they know they are the center of attention; and they can make even the grumpiest person laugh. They do require a LOT of time, love and daily care, but the love you give a ferret always comes back to you tenfold OR MORE!! I dedicate the time I spend helping others here to my precious little ones who have gone to the Rainbow Bridge. They taught me how to laugh, to love unconditionally....and how to live each & every day to its fullest, and for that I am forever grateful.


Yuma Daily Sun (local newspaper) recognition for being an outstanding ferret mom and having incredibly well-trained ferrets. I am currently working on book of ferret care to share my experience. JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK:!/groups/thundering.ferret.paws/ for faster answers to your questions and input from other experienced ferret owners. Lots of past questions answered on that you can still reference by category. If you don't find your answer there, please submit it and I will be happy to help you :-)

I read everything I can get my hands on regarding ferrets, I learn from my great Exotics Vet, and my own experience and interactions with other ferret owners. I am writing a book on ferret care (Great Need for a CORRECT one!) never rely on a ferret book OR a website when your ferret is sick. I can help with suggestions to use IN CONJUNCTION with proper care by your exotics specialist vet (ASK when you call for an appointment whether or NOT your vet has EXPERIENCE in working with EXOTICS..if not, move on and continue to seek one. The wrong vet can KILL your ferret. I learned this early when my ferret hurt his front paw jumping off the couch...a vet, NOT EXOTICS SPECIALIST couln't handle ferret properly because he was afraid of the ferret...and ended up xraying THE WRONGBARM, telling me it was not hurt. I took xray & ferret to EXOTICS SPECIALIST VET 3-hrs away & found out the arm WAS BROKEN & wrong arm had been xrayed. THAT is how important it is to have a PROPERLY TRAINED VET FOR YOUR FERRET!

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WANT TO BE A FERRET EXPERT? I serve as the resident "guru" for this category. IF YOU WISH TO VOLUNTEER IN THE FERRET CATEGORY, please email me at and request an application. All volunteers must complete a general ferret information questionaire to be a volunteer in this category. Thanks for your cooperation :-)

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I try to educate anyone who is interested in ferrets, as I take my ferrets with me in public a lot. There is a lot of MISinformation out there about ferrets that needs to be dispelled with fact, and ferret owners who need to be keep abreast of the latest and best information. FACEBOOK FERRET GROUP (OPEN): THUNDERING FERRET PAWS - Join us as we all share our pictures, stories & experience!! :-)

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