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The possibility that ferrets could be developing urinary stones from certain diets and that dogs may be accumulating toxic levels of copper added to commercial foods were among a spectrum of subjects raised in a listening session hosted last week by the US Food and Drug Administration.
The Sept. 24 virtual meeting, meant to be a sounding board for stakeholders, including veterinarians, drew a capacity audience of 1,000 registrants.
Other issues raised by a dozen speakers included the prospect of allowing hemp derivatives in animal feed; a concern that the FDA’s attention has waned on diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs; and questions about the role of the private, nonprofit Association of American Feed Control Officials in influencing the regulation of pet food.
Individuals and organizations may still express their thoughts on pet food oversight to the agency, which is accepting comments through Oct. 25. A recording and a transcript of the session are posted online.
Among those who spoke at the event were two veterinarians, whose concerns centered on suspected harms linked to certain pet food ingredients.
Dr. Cheryl Greenacre, an exotic animal practitioner at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, said that in the past five to 10 years, she has seen an increasing and “alarming number” of cystine stones in the urinary tracts of ferrets, requiring surgery to remove. She and other researchers suspect the stones are related to pea and lentil proteins in grain-free diets fed to ferrets.
Greenacre recommended not allowing pea and lentil proteins in ferret foods and adding a warning to cat foods containing those ingredients that they should not be given to ferrets. She said most of the cases she sees involve ferrets fed diets formulated for other animals.