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Title: Interest Theory on Peas and Carnivore Plus High Protein Ferret Diet
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Dar24
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(Date Posted:11/27/2013 20:42 PM)
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From FHL:



Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:03 am (PST) . Posted by:

"Heather Yahoo" soaclatnem

Something that makes no sense to me is ferrets suffering from a diet too high in protein. Ferrets are obligate carnivores - how can too much protein in general be an issue?

As for my experience with pea starch and ferrets with stones - I know this is a touchy subject amongst the vet community but many vets that I have spoken with are starting to believe peas to be a culprit of the rising cases of stones in ferrets. My own 2 ferret knowledgable vets didn't believe it to be the peas initially either, but after my second boy was PTS due to stones and then a third ferret of mine was found with a bladder full of stones they changed their minds. They aren't 100% positive it is the peas but they are researching it and are starting to believe peas are the cause.

In total I had to put 2 of my boys to sleep due to the stones (one we even did a PU? On - the surgery to Create a new urethra - but it didn't help), and I had another of my 4 boys develop bladder stones. This all happened within a 2 month time period. When I discovered my third boy had stones I immediately switched them off of their vet prescribed high-pea content kibbles to a raw diet and amazingly the stones in my third boy 'disappeared&# 39; within a 2 week time period. Mind you he had a bladder FULL of stones of all shapes and sizes.


Also, there are studies out there that show pea starch to be a culprit in stone development in cats and as cats are similar to ferrets in diet requirements I feel it is safe to assume that peas could do the same in our ferrets.






Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:10 am (PST) . Posted by:

"Sukie Crandall" sukiedaviscrandall

Sent from my iPad

I was asked:
> Something that makes no sense to me is ferrets suffering from a diet too high in protein. Ferrets are obligate carnivores - how can too much protein in general be an issue?

I put the math in below but am adding this paragraph as a summary and a "prepeat" having written the rest first, if I may coin a word, In summary, obligate carnivores are called that because their bodies can not do things like some amino acid conversions we do so they need animal food sources. The sources I have read have obligate carnivores who are also hypercarnivores typically eating about (or in a few cases "at least" depending on species) 70% animal food sources by Calories. I recall a figure that mice and a number of other animal bodies ingested are 50% Calories protein plus or minus several percent. 50% is half. Half of the 70% from animal sources for obligate hypercarnivores is 35% protein minimum. So, many of the high protein foods which give over 35% protein are already well into the high side with an attempt to give what would be eaten if ONLY animal sources were consumed. That is for hypercarnivores. Not all obligate carnivores may be hypercarnivores (though most might be), but all obligate carnivores do have much higher demands for animal sources of food than the rest of us. Fudge words are there due to gaps in research which may be filled later, especially with more intestinal microbiome and genetic work.

The tendency to form cystine stones is a genetic variation which makes the kidneys unable to deal with four of the amino acids. So, they are VULNERABLE to too high levels of protein. Notice that the ones we had who survived cystine stones and lived full lives MET the 35% animal protein levels but did not go enough above to trigger their problem. When that is not sufficient for some ferrets then adding meds rather than taking diets much lower is probably preferable.

Now you have had the summary of obligate carnivore and the summary of the cystine stone variation so can read further OR skip to the final two short paragraphs. In the paragraphs between I give some details.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.

The term "obligate carnivore" is one that can cause confusion. It does NOT mean that only animal foods can be eaten, or even that only animal foods can be digested, and in fact even polecats will ingest some non-animal source things.

What it means is that animal source foods MUST be part of the diet because of certain nutrients like some amino acid needs which can not be met for that species by other sources and can not be produced by their own bodies. Obligate carnivores tend to have more essential amino acids than we do, as I recall, because their bodies can not convert as many amino acids as well as we do.

Animals which are the most dependent obligate carnivores -- like the big cats -- typically need about 70% of their diet to be from animal sources and are called hypercarnivores. Note that is NOT 70% protein. Many whole animals are about half protein by weight, not just mice, if memory serves me. I will have to look this stuff up and post refs later but will definitely need an eye rest between.

It might be that many ferrets may do fine on less than 50% protein and in our experience is that often has been the case.

So, 50% (animal cadaver percentage which is protein) of 70% (the percentage of animal source food by obligate carnivores in the wild) gets you 35% protein on such wild diets which I seem to recall is where the 35% in the original ferret foods comes from. It probably should be seen as a safe minimum for animal protein sources for them until more is known. Safe maximum for ferrets is yet another question that remains unreasearched.

We have regularly had eight and nine PLUS year old ferrets who always lived on on 35% animal protein. That percentage was what was normally provided back before fancies were bred much.

Ferrets have apparently had more genetic burdens since fancies became popular and were bred more. Does that change food needs or cause more variation among ferrets for food needs? No one knows.

We have had ferrets in our family for over 30 years, I guess 33 now, and in the past it was absolutely normal to have ferrets last and average of seven and a half years so many people had had ferrets who were 8, 9, 10, and sometimes older, many of which were still quite active. There were no high protein kibble foods back then unless homemade or home provided.

Oh, and an important note for those providing chicks or newborn mice from pet stores: those have different mineral content percentages than adult anImals, most noticeably being too low in calcium.

But, again, before so many ferrets included fancy ancestors or were fancies themselves there apparently were fewer genetic burdens, and reports on the early internet and in the interest groups in its predecessors had very few mentions of symptoms of some current medical problems often discussed (like heart disease, insulinoma and adrenal disease), but what seemed like a far higher percentages of some others (like lymphoma and ruptured spleens), as well as pretty much no one saying that anything under late sixth year old is old for ferrets. Some of that impression could be selective memory, some could be changes in medical care as is certainly the case for decrease in ruptured spleens, but some may represent genetic population changes in pet ferrets between then and now, population genetic shifts through breeding selections. In fact, you can look through the Ferret Mailing List Archives and find that reports of adrenal disease and adrenal symptoms before the ages of five or six years apparently increased substantially in rate over time. Many who have been around a long while have noticed that.

Plant sources of much protein are NOT right for ferrets in too large amounts for other reasons. For example, we know that pretty much any ferret with too much of their dietary protein sourced from plant sources will get a different type of urinary stone, struvite stones. Those are the most common urinary stones found in pet ferrets, and also can be caused by infections.

Again: 70% of the diet from animal sources does NOT mean that their diets are 70% protein. Whole animals are NOT all protein. A mouse, for example is something like 50% protein. I can not recall the exact actual average percentage but seem to recall it is something like a few percentage points below or above half protein, which is why high protein kibbles aim for that range, but that assumes nothing other than animals is eaten, which is usually not accurate for animals who are hypercarnivores in the wild.

50% of 70% is 35%

She added this excellent point:
> They aren't 100% positive it is the peas but they are researching it and are >starting to believe peas are the cause.

It would be interesting if they find out if the mechanism postulated by that British biochemist is accurate, that is the hypothesis in which the combination facilitated by high sulphur intake of high methionine intake might bioconvert to cystine. If so then there are OTHER foods and OTHER food combinations which may need to be avoided in ferret diets because the same two potential problem ingredients would be in too high amounts. The MECHANISM which may be involved REALLY needs to be researched and explained. Looking at just peas would give only a suggestion but then the same problem could happen with other sources of the problem ingredients, no matter what the mechanism is. Looking ONLY at peas as a possible problem would be only a starting point, albeit, one that can help. Knowing the mechanism involved would be the gold standard.

Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:57 pm (PST) . Posted by:

"Stilmisnu"

Hi! Wow, lots of excellent questions and info here. I hope it's okay that I chime in...
High protein is an issue if there is kidney disease, but otherwise the real problem from what I have understood, has to do with proteins and other ingredients relative to pH.
With kibble often the additives make the pH too alkaline. But as Sukie mentioned you can get stones or worsen them if the pH is too acidic as well.
In cats by far the more common types of stones tend to be from kibble diets that are too alkaline. I don't know if that's the case in ferrets as well.
Peas make me nervous because of what I've heard among the feline and ferret community.
It's a shame that in trying to be 'grain free' the pet food companies are causing more problems than did the grain. I guess it's a lesson in striving for better but proceeding with caution with food 'improvements&# 39;.
Why aren't there better and more wet food options for ferrets? I've shifted away from kibble being a main diet source with my kitties but it seems to be kibble or raw for ferrets. Just curious why canned foods don't seem to be available or an option?
Thx so much!!
Vicky

Sent from my iPhone

> On Nov 26, 2013, at 2:46 AM, Heather Yahoo wrote:
>
> Something that makes no sense to me is ferrets suffering from a diet too high in protein. Ferrets are obligate carnivores - how can too much protein in general be an issue?
>
> As for my experience with pea starch and ferrets with stones - I know this is a touchy subject amongst the vet community but many vets that I have spoken with are starting to believe peas to be a culprit of the rising cases of stones in ferrets. My own 2 ferret knowledgable vets didn't believe it to be the peas initially either, but after my second boy was PTS due to stones and then a third ferret of mine was found with a bladder full of stones they changed their minds. They aren't 100% positive it is the peas but they are researching it and are starting to believe peas are the cause.
>
> In total I had to put 2 of my boys to sleep due to the stones (one we even did a PU? On - the surgery to Create a new urethra - but it didn't help), and I had another of my 4 boys develop bladder stones. This all happened within a 2 month time period. When I discovered my third boy had stones I immediately switched them off of their vet prescribed high-pea content kibbles to a raw diet and amazingly the stones in my third boy 'disappeared&# 39; within a 2 week time period. Mind you he had a bladder FULL of stones of all shapes and sizes.
>
> Also, there are studies out there that show pea starch to be a culprit in stone development in cats and as cats are similar to ferrets in diet requirements I feel it is safe to assume that peas could do the same in our ferrets.
>
>

Tue Nov 26, 2013 5:45 pm (PST) . Posted by:

"Caitlyn Martin" caitlynmaire

Hi,

The reason there aren't more wet food options for ferrets is because
wet foods cause other problems, mainly with the teeth and gums. Any
ferrets I've had on gravy or soft food for any significant length of
time had to have their teeth scaled more, had more tooth decay and
some also developed gum disease. Ferrets who are mainly on kibble
(sometimes mixed with hard extruded foods) have avoided these issues.
While my experience is a very small sample size (total of 16 ferrets
over 15 years plus occasional rescues that were adopted out) other
ferret owners I've talked with have similar experiences.

Anyway, I'm still using Totally Ferret Active and Show as the main
component in the mix of foods I feed the ferrets, which is 38%
protein, mainly from animal sources. I'm going to go back to the
traditional Zupreem in the next batch of foods I buy after using the
grain free for the last year, based on the reports I've read about pea
protein. There is also Mazuri and Wysong in their mix, with only the
Wysong (the smallest component in the mix at about 10%) being
extremely high in protein. This is not an endorsement for those four
foods; there are others which are just as good.

In recent years my ferrets have lived to be between 8 and right at 10
years old. The ferrets I had in the late '90s didn't all fare so
well. I believe an increase in knowledge, improvements in die, and
excellent vet care have all played a role in my getting longer
lifespans, plus, of course, unknown genetic factors and some good
luck.

The usual disclaimer applies: I am not a vet. I don't even play one
on TV. I'm just a moderately experienced ferret owner.

All the best,
Caity and the terrific trio

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