Message Number: YG1160 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Pam Sessoms
Date: 2001-03-12 11:17:00 UTC
Subject: Sonic - urine pH/diet

Hey all,

This will probably be long, but it's kind of a long story and I'm not sure
what parts are relevant so didn't want to leave anything out. The current
situation first, followed by the longer history, for those of you who
aren't bleeding out of your eyeballs at that point. I kinda wanted to
jump in with this now given recent posts about diet and its effect on
urine pH.

Current weirdness: My 7 yr old Sonic has had persistent problems with
alkaline urine (up to 8 when it's bad) ever since a strange temporary bout
with diabetes [1]. She has had several otherwise clean urinalyses
recently, so the high pH doesn't seem to be from bacterial infections.
She has had struvite crystals form once when her urine pH was high. She
has been through some weird GI stuff (inappetance, some signs of ulcers)
over the last several months and has been on carafate and eating Bob's
gravy exclusively for a couple of months - exquisitely picky old lady
ferret. I don't modify the recipe, so it's just a whole chicken plus the
nutrical, eggshells, metamucil, honey, olive oil, and ferretone.
Shouldn't a diet that whose protein is meat-based cause acidic urine?

I have another ferret recovering from surgery now and eating only this
same Bob's gravy, and her urine pH is about 6, but she's only been on
gravy exclusively for about 6 days. My others who free feed on TF senior
and get gravy as a treat and to hide their meds run between 5 and 6. For
a time, Sonic decided she wanted Gerber's chicken baby food, and it also
resulted in the same high urine pH. I did come across a webpage
( about bladder stones
in dogs and there was some discussion of dogs fed an all-meat diet
producing lots of urea which leads to struvite crystals. I know ferrets
need and are adapted to more protein than dogs, but could the same thing
be going on with Sonic? Can you tell I'm no scientist? And, yes, I do
run around dipsticking ferret pee daily. :)

OK, so when she had the bout with struvite crystals, we tried Sonic on
methionine tablets, but they gave her pretty horrible diarrhea. So I
switched to using dried cranberry powder, and that worked *beautifully* to
keep her urine pH between 5.5 and 6.5 until a few weeks ago, and now I've
had to really increase it, and she's still sometimes pushing a pH of up to
8. It's up and down and hard to predict - lately the low range has been
about 6.8 rather than our former lower lows. For a few days, she has been
accepting some small amounts of kibble and is allowing her gravy to have
some Totally Ferret Senior blended in - the TF contains dl-methionine, a
urinary acidifier, I am hoping that will help. Last night she woke me up
crying when peeing, so I'll be taking a urine sample to the vet tomorrow
to see what's going on. But sometimes she's done that and the urinalysis
is unrevealing besides showing the high pH - there aren't always crystals
when she cries like that. Nothing in her bloodwork is seriously out of
whack, and she had an unrevealing ultrasound a few weeks ago.

[1] Longer history: Sonic is my beloved old blind girl who went
temporarily diabetic while on fairly normal doses of pred and diazoxide
(proglycem) for insulinoma. We talked about this on the FML when it was
happening. We dealt with some urinary problems after the diabetes (first
yeast and bacteria, then later struvite crystals), probably secondary to
the sugar in her urine from being diabetic for awhile. Anyway, her blood
sugar was normal without her meds for a time, but then of course it
started to drop again from her insulinoma. She's back on pred (0.25 - 0.5
mg/kg BID) now, but I have to watch her really closely because she goes
diabetic easily on the pred. She's hard to regulate - she'll be OK on the
lower dose of 0.25 mg/kg and then will get mild hind end weakness with a
blood sugar in the 50's, so I'll increase the pred which will help but
then she'll start to spill sugar into her urine and go diabetic again, so
I drop back, and it starts over. She threw up diazoxide last time I tried
to use that instead of the pred. But the blood sugar stuff I can deal
with! The urine pH thing is driving me NUTS! And yes, I have an amazing,
wonderful vet to help me out with all of this. :-)

Prior to the diabetes saga, she went off kibble and we suspected
Helicobacter/ulcers, and we went with the Biaxin/amoxi/carafate protocol.
She's been on carafate consistently since then until I've finally been
able to stop it a few days ago.

One other weird thing is her posture in her hind end - she often walks
"down on her hocks" and has even worn the hair off of them. When she's
feeling really good and her blood sugar is normal and her urine pH is nice
and low, she walks "up on her footpads" like a normal ferret. I found a
drawing of a diabetic cat illustraing a "platigrade stance," and this is
what Sonic looks like quite often:

One other quick long-shot question - Dr. Williams has mentioned that
Helicobacter leads to an alkaline stomach/GI environment. This can't
possibly carry through to the bladder, right?

Note: the diabetes/pred thing is exceedingly rare - don't let this scare
you from giving it to your ferret - it is an amazing medicine for these
guys and lots of them wouldn't be alive without it.

I am SO SORRY this is so long. Does anyone have any thoughts about the
high urine pH while on a meaty diet? Any other thoughts about my girl?

Best wishes to all!

-Pam S.