Increased Thirst and Urination in Ferrets

Polyuria and Polydipsia in Ferrets

Polyuria refers to an greater than normal urine production, while polydipsia refers to an increased level of thirst. Assessing these two conditions in ferrets, however, may be more subjective since an extremely wide range of urine production has been reported, ranging from 8 to 140 mL/24 hours. (Conversely, normal water consumption volumes is generally considered to be 75-100 mL/kg/24 hours.) In fact, ferrets are rarely diagnosed with these two conditions.

Urine production and water consumption (thirst) are controlled by interactions between the kidneys, pituitary gland, and hypothalamus, which is involved in the functions of the autonomic nervous system and in endocrine mechanisms. Usually, polydipsia occurs as a compensatory response to polyuria to maintain hydration. It’s more likely to be seen in middle-aged to older ferrets.

Symptoms and Types

The most common symptoms of these medical conditions are an increase in urination, and drinking much more water than usual. There are generally no other behavioral changes.


  • Liver disease
  • Various electrolyte disorders
  • Urinary obstruction
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Ingestion or administration of large quantities sodium chloride or glucose
  • Administration of diuretics (agents that increase the amount of urine excreted) and anticonvulsants
  • Kidney failure, kidney inflammation, pus in the uterus, excess calcium in the blood, low concentration of potassium in the blood


Because there are many diseases that can cause the aforementioned symptoms, your veterinarian will first try to rule out the more common causes. He or she will ask you various questions, including whether your pet has lost weight recently or whether your pet’s hair has been falling out? Also, has your pet suddenly wanted to eat all the time or is it nauseated, vomiting, or pawing at the mouth? The answers to these questions will provide clues as to what is causing these symptoms.

Your veterinarian will also probably recommend blood tests, abdominal X-rays and ultrasounds, a urinalysis, and/or a microscopic examination of lymph node aspirates. If he or she suspects cancer, a biopsy of the lymph nodes may be needed.



Excessive urination


A product made of fluid, cell waste, and cells


The hollow bodily organ that holds the embryo and fetus and provides nourishment; only found in female animals.


A medical condition involving excessive thirst


An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness

pituitary gland

The gland that is found at the bottom of the brain whose job is to maintain appropriate levels of hormones in the blood


The process of removing tissue to examine it, usually for medical reasons.


Part of the thalamus that helps to regulate the release of certain hormones

lymph nodes

Small structures that filter out the lymph and store lymphocytes

autonomic nervous system

The part of the nervous system that contains the nerves that control involuntary movement.

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