- Supporter in '12
I tried to search if this was already discussed on the forum but nothing showed up. It has been brought to my attention on so many occasions I was curious what people thought about his science behind what causes stones and his pellets that don't contain fillers like wheat, soy and all that. They do however contains both alfalfa and timothy but he has a video talking about how calcium with carbonate is the main issue. I will share the link and on the pellet page is his video about calcium.
I have a guinea pig with chronic bloat and sludgy urine at times, so was looking into if these pellets are a healthier option potentially for her GI issues and sludge issues.
Just found this randomly but this lady is talking about how they used to think keeping rabbits on low calcium diets was good to prevent sludge/ stones.
But on a low calcium diet they find that rabbits pull calcium from their bones and sludge still occurs. I’m not sure of her source material but to me this sounds applicable to guinea pigs too. I don’t think a low calcium diet is safe in the long run and could lead to bone/ joint and teeth problems down the line. It’s also not good for the ratios of calcium to phosphorous they need.
I think it is possible to cut back on calcium but still maintain the proper calcium/phosphorus ratio. Magnesium also plays a part along with vitamin D (which you are concerned with).
- Supporter in '12
I earned my PhD in Molecular Biology - ie. the biology of molecules. My specialty was in sub cellular signaling and metabolism. Its a great foundation for studying anything else with biology.
I realize that I need to clarify the message of the video. Great questions. They will help me do that.
Eating carbonate (as an ingredient in the food) has very little to do with carbonate in the urine. Carbonate is actually made by the body and is used as a pH buffer in the blood. An unbalanced diet causes more of the carbonate to 'leak' into the urine where it creates sludge.
A solution (such as urine) that has excess carbonate will have a pH greater than 9 which is typical of most rabbits and guinea pigs. Balancing the diet can make the urine less alkaline (closer to neutral) ... typically between 7.5 and 8.1 depending on the species and the time of day the urine is sampled (using Sherwood foods and not feeding treats). This means that there can be 4x to 10x less carbonate (depending on many factors). Sludge (calcium carbonate) is 60% carbonate by weight (more than 60% by volume).
The urinary support tablets use a slightly different mechanism to further lower the urine pH and make it even closer to neutral which will dissolve carbonate (sludge). Using a full dose we typically see a 0.5 to 1.0 drop in urine pH after the sludge is dissolved (the presence of carbonate will buffer against a pH drop).
- Supporter in '12
We've been asked for many years to make a timothy only pellet (it would sell well but not be the healthiest choice). Your logic is sound but it isn't a simple 'putting calcium into the body and see it come out the bladder'... Of course you don't want to over feed calcium (or any mineral) but even short-term under-feeding calcium won' t greatly decrease the amount of calcium expelled in the urine because it will leach it from the bones and lead to dental disease. It's a very complex system with many factors.
Ultimately calcium isn't the problem (though it does influence the problem). Carbonate is the problem... and if you read the reply below you'll find out that you can't simply avoid feeding foods containing carbonate. Preventing carbonate from getting into the urine is partly a mineral balance issue, and it's partly a pH balance issue, and its partly a protein nutrition/balance issue... because increasing protein waste will increase sludge despite a low-calcium diet.
The best way to minimize sludge issues is to balance the entire diet so that it contains the right ratios of all the minerals, and the right ratios of the essential amino acids (protein nutrition), and to assist the body in maintaining proper pH (influenced heavily by protein nutrition and a little bit by mineral balance).
If you go and sum the components reported on the labels of all the pellets, also the "best" one (which is the best one?? Oxbow made of cereals and flours?), you will get a number similar to a 50%. What is the other 50% made of? carbohydrates? sugars? Go and read the label.
My piggies are healthy, never had a medical issue so far and are fed with fresh wild grasses, hay, a little slice of bell pepper and 5-6 pieces of pellets a day (not every day), plus a little supplement of vit C (12mg a day) which maybe helps.
About the vit D, as it maybe toxic and there are researches which demonstrates its toxicity, as it is not clear the safe dose for a piggie, I prefer not to run any risk. And it seems that some vit D is present also in fresh grass.
Some of his products are interesting. I'm trying his Joint Support formula right now for one of our older boars with what appears to be osteoarthritis. He has actually offered to pay for follow-up rads in a few months to see if there is any improvement after taking the supplement daily.
He also makes a vitamin C tablet, and a handfeeding formula that I have used before (but, again, my guys weren't too crazy about it).
- Supporter in '12
My one boar has done well on the Oxbow joint support but would love to switch to the more natural ingredient one they offer.
That is really neat about the follow up x-ray! Will be cool to see if there is a difference.
I'd say the Sherwood products are worth a try. I have their vitamin C tabs in addition to the joint support. Gabriel thinks the joint support tabs are a treat (and he's a picky eater, so that's saying something about the flavor). Sherwood also makes two very good handfeeding formulas that I feel are as good as Oxbow if not better. I haven't tried the urinary tabs.