Exotis ISSN 2398-2985


Renal failure

Synonym(s): Kidney failure

Contributor(s): Cathy Johnson-Delaney, David Perpinan


  • Failure of function of the kidney(s).
  • Cause: aging plays a large role, excessive use of NSAIDs.
  • Signs: weight loss, loss of condition, nausea (gagging/pawing at the mouth), vomiting, weakness, dehydration, excess/lack of urine, oral ulceration, halitosis, pale/dry mucous membranes.
  • Diagnosis: hematology, serum chemistries, urinalysis, biopsy, FNA, ultrasonography, radiography.
  • Treatment: dialysis, antibiotics.
  • Prognosis: poor.



  • Renal failure is a state of decreased renal function that allows persistent abnormalities (azotemia and inability to concentrate urine) to exist; it refers to a level of organ function rather than to a specific disease entity:
    • Acute renal failure generally refers to cases of sudden decline of glomerular filtration rate resulting in accumulation of nitrogenous waste products and inability to maintain normal fluid balance.
    • Chronic renal failure generally refers to an insidious onset with slow progression (usually months to years) of azotemia and inadequately concentrated urine.
  • See other diseases in this section as possible causes, eg Aleutian disease Aleutian disease, glomerulosclerosis Glomerulosclerosis and renal hypertension, hydronephrosis Hydronephrosis, nephrosis/nephritis Nephrosis/nephritis, obstructive urolithiasis Cystitis and urolithiasis, prostatomegaly producing urethral blockage.
  • Aging plays a large role.


  • Many ferrets over 4 years of age have varying degrees of chronic interstitial nephritis Nephrosis/nephritis.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Wojick K, Berube D & Barr J (2008) Clinical technique: Peritoneal dialysis and percutaneous peritoneal dialysis catheter placement in small mammals. J Exotic Pet Medicine 17 (3), 181-188 JExoticPetMed.

Other sources of information

  • Mayer J & Donnelly T M (2013) Clinical Veterinary Advisor: Birds and Exotic Pets. Elsevier, USA. pp 752.