In an earlier thread there was some discussion of cheese and why it is not recommended by veterinarian
One of these reasons is that cheese can cause a bowel obstruction.
I was asked to explain this, but didn't want to hijack the other thread, which was related to lactose.
So here's the case against cheese, presented humbly for your consideration.
is a very personal thing! You must do what is best for your glider, and what you and a glider-knowledgeable veterinarians
you trust decide. We all choose many different things (just as we do for diet
for ourselves and people-family) I am always happy to hear others' thoughts, and I am always looking to learn more, and to benefit from others' education! So please feel free to completely disagree with me, and educate me on your views.... this goes for anything I have to say.**
Some glider owners suggest that they have fed cheese and it hasn't killed their gliders, and that anecdotal evidence from other glider owners suggests the same.
One poster said that in a study (no link provided to the published study, sorry) bowel obstruction was a major cause of death of necropsied sugar gliders and a small number had owner-reports of a sugar glider consuming cheese in their diet
. However none that the poster had seen, had been reported of consuming cheese within 72 hours of death.
My responses to those particular comments (sorry to the posters that they are not actual quotes):
Bowel obstruction and decreased bowel motility is not always a fatal occurrence. There are many causes of bowel obstruction and gastric outflow obstruction. Some are dangerous, some are simply extremely uncomfortable/painful, some slowly destroy an animal's health. Some pass after some pain and don't cause any further damage at all. Only a select few types are fatal within a short window of time.
An intestinal obstruction can be complete or partial. It is not always caused by a foreign body, but can also be caused by what is called an intussusception, neoplasia, and and other conditions that may impede blood flow or reduce (or arrest) gastric motility.
The type of foreign body intestinal obstruction that is most rapidly and commonly fatal is called a "strangulated obstruction". These type of obstructions are particularly dangerous and can cause secondary conditions from abrasion, cutting, and tearing damage to the intestines. This type of obstruction also slows or halts blood flow to a portion of the GI tract, which can cause bowel death (necrosis) fairly rapidly (even as soon as 20 hours), and which contributes greatly to rapid death in the patient. Cheese does not
cause this type of intestinal blockage.
These complete strangulated obstructions (without treatment) can cause death in as little as 3-4 days. A complete obstruction of lower GI can result in death in as little as 3-6 days. A complete obstruction of upper GI can result in death in 3 weeks or longer. Incomplete obstructions may not cause death at all. They can cause death after months as well.
As far as cheese not having been consumed within 72 hrs of death caused by bowel obstruction, well the diagnosis of "bowel obstruction" is way too vague. We don't know why those necropsied gliders had a bowel obstruction. There are so many kinds... But mainly only a very small percentage of death by bowel obstruction occurs within that small 72 hour window time-frame!!
2-3 days is not enough time for death to have occurred from a bowel obstruction caused by a food item like cheese. And also this information is being reported by people, so it is subjected to those people's memories and what they personally consider relevant, etc (and when someone is upset and bereaved over their pet's death their memory is subject to more imperfections than usual too)
The problem with cheese is three-fold.
First and greatest risk is that cheese is high in casein protein. All mammals produce milk with different components and with differing ratios of these components. Milk has two major categories of proteins: Whey and casein. These particular categories of protein behave differently and they have different varieties of proteins found within.
Casein is found in the curds of cow's milk. Casein makes up 80% of ALL the protein in cow's milk! The percentage of casein in marsupial milk is MUCH lower. (That is why Wombaroo milk replacer is such an important foster formula, because cows milk home-made formula has such different ratios of proteins, and other factors as well).
Cow's milk is quite different from the milk of the sugar glider.
Cheese in particular has a high amount of casein protein in it, as it is concentrated milk curds.
Lactose intolerance is not necessarily the biggest concern with dairy and sugar gliders. There are a LOT of cow's milk intolerances related to casein from cow's milk for all non-cow species that might consume cow's milk. Unlike a lactose intolerance (lactose is a sugar), a milk-protein intolerance (called by some a "milk allergy") presents in a different way. Most commonly as constipation. This can cause fecal impaction as well as bowel obstruction from the fecal impaction. The body thinks that the casein is an antigen, produces histamine, and an inflammatory response begins. This causes thickening of intestinal secretions, reduced bowel motility, discomfort (and all the other pains related to inflammation) as well as other possible signs of allergy-to include rhinitis (runny nose) skin itchiness, even respiratory concerns. But it is more likely to cause an upset stomach and constipation. (can come with a whole host of symptoms)
Constipation and fecal impaction can result in a whole lot of complications, to include pain, intestinal blockage, rectal prolapse, anal fissures, etc. Pain can cause an animal to form a stool-withholding behavioral pattern, which only increases the problem. Stool withholding causes the retained stool to dry out further.
So that's problem number 1. But the trouble with casein proteins doesn't end there...
There are four varieties of casein proteins. One of them is known as k-casein. This is the protein that causes milk to form a solid to partially solid clot in the stomach when the k-casein protein is broken down. This may not be digested very well by the sugar glider.
Why might it not be digested properly? Marsupials (no marsupials at all) have k-casein in their milk. K-casein makes up 10% of curd protein in cow's milk. This can be particularly problematic for the sugar glider consuming a milk product.
(Humans can also have problems digesting casein protein as human milk only contains 40% caseins as opposed to cow's 80%)
Why is cheese a bit worse for this k-casein issue? Particularly k-casein is pivotal in the cheese making process. Special treatment is made to use k-casein to its full advantage to clot and solidify cow's (or goat's) milk into a nice firm cheese. This is a very complicated process so I will spare you all, as this is already such a long post!! (sorry-trying to be thorough and brief... hard) But basically k-casein is broken at various peptites (depending on which process used) to break it into a soluble hydrophilic glycopeptide called caseinomacropeptide and an insoluble peptide termed para kappa-casein.
Ok-so moving on past casein. Aged cheese contains an amino acid called tyramine. These are found in these foods (among others):
Beer, ale, wine (esp. red wine)
Beans and legumes
Soy sauce and MSG
Pickled and salted fish
Tyramines are known as "opioid peptides" because they have an opiate-like effect on the body. They work on the body in a way similar to epinephrine and norepinephrine. These are chemicals in the body that are put out during the "fight or flight" response of an animal, or any fear response, among other uses for these chemicals. When they are at work in your body they reduce intestinal motility because they require blood flow to be redirected towards the brain, the muscles, and the senses. (They say "Hey, We're trying to survive here, not digest!")
There are other suggested problems associated with tyramines, but nothing definitive that I've personally come across. I'm sure they are many who know more about how these affect small marsupials than I do.
And finally there is the risk of a sugar glider contracting listeriosis from eating certain types of cheeses, particularly soft cheeses (like bleu cheese, queso, and feta) as well as unpasteurized cheeses.
So. There you have it. My personal conclusion is that the risk of injuring my glider just isn't worth the risk when there are so many healthy choices out there. There are no significant health benefits to cheese, so I see no particular reason to feed it to the little fur balls.