By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
What would cause my daughter’s ferret to pee blood? When the ferret pees, the urine has brown and red in it.
It is not normal for ferret urine to be anything other than a shade of yellow. Dilute ferret urine is a very light in color; a very light shade of yellow. Dehydrated ferrets can have urine that is a very dark shade of yellow, but this should not look red or brown.
Very fresh blood will make the urine look red, and blood that has been sitting in the urine for a period of time will degrade and take on a brownish tint. Why does this happen? Many times, blood in the urine represents a disease process. Visit your ferret’s veterinarian as soon as you can.
Blood can come from one or both kidneys, from the ureter(s), from the bladder or from the urethra. Stones anywhere in the urinary tract can initiate bleeding due to the irritation they cause along the walls of the urinary tract. Infection is another common cause of bleeding in the urinary tract. Typical areas for infection that lead to bleeding are the kidney and bladder.
Uncommon in ferrets, but seen in other species, are tumors of the urinary tract. Depending on the type of tumor, these can lead to blood in the urine. In some male ferrets with adrenal gland disease, if the prostate enlarges, this can cause infection and disease, which can lead to bloody urine.
Finally, there are syndromes where blood enters the urine somewhere in the urinary tract for reasons we may not be able to determine. It is called a syndrome when we cannot determine a cause for the blood loss. You might believe that with any of these causes your ferret would be in pain when he/she urinated, but this does not always occur, because ferrets can be so stoic.
Visit your veterinarian very soon. Your vet will recommend a urinalysis to determine if the color change is due to blood in the urine. He or she can also determine if there other abnormalities in the urine, such as bacteria, evidence of crystals or even parasites. Your vet will also recommend a complete blood count to see how much blood your ferret is losing in the urine. A biochemistry panel will determine the health of the kidneys, along with other measures of your ferret’s overall health. Then imaging studies, such as radiographs and an ultrasound of your ferret’s abdomen, will help your veterinarian pinpoint the cause of what you are seeing.
In most cases, blood in a ferret’s urine is easy to diagnose and treatment can be instituted immediately.