Message Number: SG14272 | New FHL Archives Search
Date: 2005-06-07 17:43:31 UTC
Subject: RE: question about diet for seniors
Message-ID: <>

Mice are about 52% protein so it makes sense to assume that most ferrets can deal with high protein levels.

If there is a medical reason to not use high protein percentages, though, then those foods need to be avoided.

One example is cystine stones. An increase in the rate of those submitted to the urolith lab at UC Davis over the last year plus has led to a study on cystine stones in ferrets. At this point the cause if unknown, though it is possible that like with some types of dogs, maned wolves and some other animals there may be some lines with a genetic kidney problem which makes it difficult to deal with either cystine alone or with the COLA grouping of amino acids, cystine, ornithine, lysine, and arginine. (Cystine precipitates out more easily than the other three in that grouping.) Other possible causes such a problem with specific foods is being looked at as well.

Here is some information for vets who treat ferrets to keep on file about the new study:
Dr. Michelle Hawkins VMD DABVP (Avian) is coordinating this effort and
can be reached at:
2108 Tupper Hall, University of CA, Davis, CA 95616
1-530-752-1363 (phone)

Also, among the folks who have encountered these, when the ferrets survived (males especially may have fatal problems from the blocking) almost all who have talked with me have found that their ferrets do fine on a 35% protein level diet.

If a ferret does not there is info on medications in the FHL Archives at
and two vets who have successfully done this with ferrets -- so treating vets may want a vet to vet consultation are Doctors Tom Kawasaki and Mike Dutton (who has a publication out on the case he had, too).

If a male needs a PU here are both surgery guidelines and consultation info:

We had a PU planned for one of our two who got cystine stones (in his case verified by urine pH since there was a malfunction causing his sludge to be lost) because he blocked in his urethra to the point where he almost was lost to bilateral hydronephrosis about a year ago, but instead repeated cystos to empty his bladder manage to dislodge and remove the problem as well as giving him time for the inflammation to go down. He has been gradually bouncing back and is now most of the way there.

The only hint that I know about of what ferret might be susceptible to forming cystine bladder stones is urine which is too acidic on a high protein diet. (The opposite of struvite stones which involve too much veggie matter in the diet and urine which is too alkaline.)

I couldn't recall the right urine pH but

Hilbert's has been much lower.

Again, though, most ferrets will not have a problem with higher animal tissue protein levels (though plant protein levels too high tend to indicate a food best avoided).