Message Number: FHL9949 | New FHL Archives Search
From: "Danee DeVore"
Date: 2009-09-23 22:05:54 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] A protein debate, not a food type debate
To: <>

Sukie wrote:

With certain kidney conditions it is also best to
avoid whole prey or meat diets as well as high protein kibbles because
of too much phosphorous.

Actually, the problem is less the protein from animal sources and more a
problem with plant proteins.

There are studies that have shown that a diet that contains plant protein
(and plants do contain protein - some more than others) can cause ferrets to
develop bladder and kidney stones. Corn, wheat and rice contain as much
protein as most meats, so if a kibble has 1 pound of chicken meat (usually
weighed wet) and 3/4 pound of wheat, corn or rice (weighed dry), then that
kibble is getting more of its protein content from plant sources than it is
from meat sources, because a smaller amount of wet meat will weigh more (but
not be more) than the dried grains.

Plant proteins alter the pH of the urine, making crystals more likely to
form. So, feeding the same amount of protein strictly from animal sources
will be less likely to cause bladder stones, because the pH of the urine
will be such that it will not promote crystallization of the magnesium
ammonium phosphate. This information can be found in a number of places,
but I am taking it from my Fox "Biology and Diseases of the Ferret".

Plant proteins can cause other problems as well. Grains, are often a source
of food allergy, and food allergies can be responsible for causing IBD and
IBS. Ferrets with IBD should be fed a diet that does not contain grains.
Now, that can be accomplished in several ways, one of which is feeding a
prey diet. But, at least here in the US, we do have commercially prepared
foods that do not contain any grains.

I know that from time to time, people have posted here about their ferrets
having bladder stones. It would be interesting to know what diet those
ferrets were eating. My bet is that most if not all of them were being fed
a diet of kibbles that contained grains, and I would be surprised if any of
them were on a strictly prey diet.

A prey diet does carry the possibility of other problems, though, so I am
not saying it is better. But, many people who have ferrets with IBD eating
a kibble diet that switch them to a prey diet report the IBD clears up and
requires no additional treatment. I suspect they might see the same result
switching to kibbles that contain no grains, or a home prepared diet of
cooked meats that also includes organ meats and bones.

I do not advocate any particular feeding method, as I believe a healthy diet
can be gotten from many different sources, but I do advocate avoiding any
kibble that contains grains.

Danee DeVore

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