Message Number: YG1623 | New FHL Archives Search
Date: 2001-03-23 08:45:00 UTC
Subject: Re: [Ferret-Health-list] Digest Number 81/Yogart/E.
Lipinski and Christopher

Mr. Lipinski brings up an interesting point about feeding yogurt to
His argument however, is based on his understanding or
misunderstanding of
human and ferret digestive physiology. Christopher, a student in
the human
holistic medicine and a respondent to this same email, also is
incorrect on
the cause of the benefits of yogurt in ferrets relative to humans.

Physiologically, ferrets, which are obligate carnivores, are quite
from humans, especially in the digestive system. The muscle
structure of the
esophagus, the proportional size of the stomach, the small intestine
and the
colon are all quite different between the two species. The
layers of the small and large intestines of humans and ferrets are
different. These differences along with the level and types of
secretions, etc., make comparing the two species impossible when it
comes to
determining nutrient digestibility from food stuffs.
The functional benefit of yogart as well as other types of
probioticts or
prebioticts lays in the fact that the "good" bacteria or non
bacteria overgrows the "bad" bacteria and makes for "better" or more
digestion. This function takes place in the ceacum and colon of the
not in the stomach or small intestines. The ferret lacks a ceacum,
ileocolic valve and an effective absorptive colon. Further, the
colon contains little bacteria and is practically sterile. This is
the main
reason that pre and pro bioticts or yogurt can have little to no
effect in
ferrets as it does in other mammals. The human as well as other
animal such
as dogs, but not cats who are also obligate carnivores, can benefit
yogurt, acidopholis inoculants, pre and pro bioticts.
The other fact that must be considered is the presence of lactose in
yogurt which can cause a looseness in stools because adult ferrets
not on a
diet of milk products lack lactase in sufficient quantities to
digest the
lactose in the yogurt. Mr. Lipinski's ferret has been on yogurt for
as he states, and therefore has maintained adequate levels of
lactase so it
is able to digest the lactose rather efficiently. The protein in
the yogurt
is casein and is a very high quality as well as is the fat. Since
lactase is
an induced enzyme, ferrets, cats and dogs can adapt to milk products
enough time, usually 6 to 12 weeks.
Mr Lipinski does bring up a cogent point in identifying the
digestive benefit
of increased surface area of food stuffs. This along with the
quality mentioned above is the source of the benefit of yogurt to
ferrets and
not the bacteria replacement in the gut.
DR Thomas Willard