Chapter 47 Diseases of the Urinary System
The most frequently seen disorder of the renal system in snakes is gout, a disease routinely associated with dietary imbalances. Snakes require animal protein in their diet, and their system is adapted to handle that form of protein. In some reptiles, the end product of protein breakdown is uric acid, whereas in others, it is allantoin or urea. The uric acid is cleared from the blood through the renal tubules. When uric acid levels increase in the blood, uric acid crystals begin to precipitate out in body fluids such as synovial fluid and other body tissues. Deposits in tissue such as cartilage, tendons, and soft tissues are called tophi. In reptiles, tophi can be found in the pericardial sac, the kidneys, liver, spleen, lungs, subcutaneous tissues, and other soft tissues. Risk factors for the formation of gout include dehydration, renal disease, excessive protein intake, and misuse of nephrotoxic antibiotics (aminoglycosides).