Objective: To confirm that the predominant mineral type in naturally occurring uroliths in ferrets is struvite; to determine whether age, breed, sex, reproductive status, geographic location, season, and anatomic location are risk factors associated with urolith formation in ferrets; to compare features of struvite uroliths in cats with those in ferrets; and to determine whether there is a logical evidence-based rationale for clinical trials of the safety and efficacy of diet-induced dissolution of struvite uroliths in ferrets.
Design: Retrospective case-control study.
Animals: 408 ferrets with uroliths (272 struvite uroliths) from the Minnesota Urolith Center, and 6,528 control ferrets from the Veterinary Medical Database.
Procedures: Historical information was obtained about each ferret. The association between proposed risk factors and outcome (struvite urolith formation) was assessed.
Results: Sterile struvite was the predominant mineral in uroliths in ferrets. Neutered male ferrets had a significantly increased risk of developing sterile struvite uroliths. A significant association was also found between increasing age and the detection of struvite uroliths. Struvite uroliths in ferrets were more likely to be retrieved from the lower urinary tract than from the upper urinary tract.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Knowledge of predominant mineral type in uroliths along with insight into etiologic, demographic, and environmental risk and protective factors for urolithiasis may facilitate development of surveillance strategies that result in earlier detection of uroliths in ferrets. Modification of risk factors, including dietary risk factors, may help to minimize urolith formation, dissolve existing uroliths, and minimize urolith recurrence.