Ferrets are mischievous and active pets that are easy to keep happy. As a responsible pet owner, it is imperative you familiarize yourself with your pet’s dietary and nutritional needs. Ferrets are carnivorous animals hence their digestive systems are only designed to deal with meat. Feeding your Ferret the wrong kind of food can adversely affect their health, especially foods that are high in fiber and carbohydrates. Safeguard your little pet by never feeding him the following foods:
Dairy items such as cheese, ice-cream and yogurt may be very palatable to your pet and they might want a taste when you are snacking on something delicious. However, feeding your pet such dairy items can result in diarrhea, resulting in dehydration and possibly, death. The American Ferret Association warns pet owners that ferrets should strictly be fed a carnivorous diet as other foods may cause damage to the intestinal tract. Like other carnivorous animals, ferrets lack the enzymes required to digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy products, this inhibits the ferret’s ability to process the food eventually leading to diarrhea.
Dog and Cat Food
If you are feeding your ferret commercialized dog food then perhaps you should get a dog instead. While store bought dog and cat food is comparatively budget-friendly and convenient to purchase, understand that your ferret belongs to a whole different species and thus has different nutritional requirements. Your ferret’s diet should contain large amounts of protein and fats with meat being the primary ingredient. If you are not able to find pre-packaged ferret food in your locality, the best option would be to purchase kitten food. However, always check the ingredients list and give your pet additional fatty acid supplements to meet their nutritional requirements. Kitten food has is high in protein content and is thus more suitable than food for adult cats.
While ferrets are perfectly able to digest small raw bones, they should never be fed cooked bones. Raw meaty bones have a softer texture and break apart in a way that is beneficial for your ferret’s teeth. On the other hand, bones harden as they are cooked, causing them to splinter. This may lead to fatal puncture wounds that might cause damage to the ferret’s stomach, throat and intestines. Additionally, be wary of little bone fragments that might cause choking and intestinal damage.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables may be an essential part of your diet, but they should not be fed to your pet ferrets. Ferrets are obligate carnivores hence their digestive tracts are specially designed to digest meat and only meat. Ferrets lack the ability to digest fiber and carbohydrate packed foods such as fruits and vegetables. Additionally, feeding your pet high amounts of carbohydrates can result in Insulinoma, a tumor that affects the pancreas, causing it to produce excessive amounts of insulin. So, sugary foods are a big no no.
Foods such as cereals, honey and other kinds of syrups can trigger dangerous reactions causing your pet to produce too much insulin, followed by a drop in insulin resulting in a condition called hypoglycemia. Along with natural and processed sugars, it is imperative you cut off all sorts of artificial sugars from your pet’s diet including xylitol that can trigger seizures and cause liver failure in ferrets and other animals. This sweetener can be commonly found in many sugar-free products in the market, which should be stored away from your ferret.
At best, feed your ferret a raw diet, containing tons of meat and proteins. Avoid feeding it store bought treats even if they are especially labeled for ferrets as most commercialized treats are not suitable for pets. Home-made meals are considered as the healthiest of the lot and will benefit your ferret in several ways.