To test the effectiveness and ease of use of Carnivore Care, a high-quality, animal-based protein, high-fat product formulated for carnivores, using domestic ferrets (Mustela putorius) as a physiologic model.
Animals/Protocol: Intake trials were conducted on a total of 24 ferrets ranging in stated age from 14 weeks to 6.5 years. Participants were asked to record diet ingredients, normal consumption, and body weights throughout the course of the study. Fecal consistency was recorded daily on a scale of 1 (loose) to 5 (solid). The target dosage was suggested at 3 tablespoons Carnivore Care reconstituted with 1.5 tablespoons water (water amounts variable) – fed three to four times daily. The 42 g dry product would provide 220 kcal daily as self-fed or by use of oral syringe.
Testers reported a need to increase the amount of water mixed with the Carnivore Care to make it workable in the syringe, but no other problems were reported. Ferrets consumed on average 38.6 g dry Carnivore Care daily, supplying a calculated 206.8 ± 18.5 kcal. Ferrets of the body range in this study with medium activity levels require a calculated 110 to 160 kcal/day. Feeding four times per day rather than three seemed to elicit the best response, especially for ill animals. Overall energy consumption by animals in this study (consuming both dry foods as well as Carnivore Care) averaged 256 ± 88 kcal per kg body mass.
Animal Response: Of the animals fully fed Carnivore Care (n=8 data sets healthy, n=2 clinically ill) only two (25%) lost weight on the trial – one animal, 3 g and the other (an average from a pair) 18 g, over the three to four days. Six healthy ferrets (75%) gained weight while fully fed Carnivore Care, an average of 13.3 ± 10.0 g (range 5 to 33 g) in three to four days. Of the two clinically ill ferrets, one maintained weight while the other gained an impressive 177 g in four days.
Fecal Samples: Ferrets fed a mixture of Carnivore Care and dry food displayed 21% average decrease of fecal amount. This may be due to a higher digestibility of the Carnivore Care, but further evidence is needed. Average fecal score prior to feeding Carnivore Care was 4.0 (n=8), and 3.7 after these same animals were maintained on 100% Carnivore Care.
Carnivore Care is a moderately-palatable, highly-digestible support diet that can be syringe-fed to ferrets, particularly during periods of convalescence, digestive disorders, or inappetance. A minimum of 40 g Carnivore Care powder (9 tablespoons total – 3 tablespoons per meal reconstituted with water), providing approximately 220 kcal and fed over at least three meals, should be consumed daily to maintain body weight in ferrets ranging from 700 to 1100 g. More frequent meals and volume may be required for convalescing animals. Ingredients are comprised of whole eggs, meal and fish products, in a matrix designed to meet the known nutrient requirements of obligate carnivores. Initially, stool condition may be light in color and not well formed; this condition appears to resolve after two to three days and/or may benefit from the addition of 5% (by weight) Critical Care for Herbivores to the initial formulation to prove more fecal bulk.
Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Dr. Peter Fisher and Lisa Leidig of Virginia Beach, Va.; Laura Powers of Norfolk, Va.; Dr Cathy Johnson-Delaney of Seattle, Wash.; and Megan Reuther in Everett, Wash. for all their efforts in gathering data for these important trials. Dr. Fisher also graciously supplied the supporting photos.