Ferret Diet: Know the Facts

In terms of food, ferrets have an extra ordinary diet. It is a fact that ferrets are always active, thus they need steady supply of energy from ferret diet which they get from various food sources. In addition, ferret’s digestive system works double time, which results to faster metabolism.

Ferret diet must be meat-based

Ferret diet is mainly composed of meat products, fish, poultry and other animal by-products. Aside from these foods, ferrets also love various types of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, due to their sensitive digestive system, most vegetables and fruits cause more harm than good. For example, fruits that contain loads of fiber are not digested properly. As a result, vitamins and minerals from these healthy foods are almost entirely wasted.

raw meatball for ferret diet

Photo: regan76 | Flickr

Ferrets are also born with a sweet tooth. They tend to prefer foods with high sugar content, which can promote different health issues. There is also a probability of experiencing over activity that may lead to over fatigue when too much sugar is consumed. Fruits high in sugar like raisins and mangoes must be avoided.

Fortunately, due to the fact that their diet is somewhat limited and can cause headaches to their owners, ferret food manufacturers now offer different food choices for your pet. Various brands of commercial ferret food with proper amount of protein, calories, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that every ferret should have on a daily basis are now available at pet stores. Ferret experts suggest that ferrets should have at least two food groups to maintain proper health and not to be solely dependent on only one kind of food.

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Commercial food for ferrets

Although most commercially manufactured ferret food are healthy and enough to sustain a balanced diet, some ferret owners prefer raw foods for various reasons. One common reason owners resort to raw diet is due to budget constraints. Ferrets may be small but their appetite is bigger than their size. In addition, ferrets must eat several times a day to keep up with its energy requirement. With a raw diet plan, many ferret owners believe that they are able to save money and at the same time, have control with the food choices. Another reason is that a raw diet is more natural compared to commercial ferret foods, which may contain preservatives and harmful substances to prolong shelf life. Raw diet practitioners believe that natural food sources make ferrets healthier and lessen the risk of medical issues.

One commonly used raw diet is combination of meat and minced bones, which provide the proper amount of protein and calories required by ferrets. Aside from providing daily energy requirement, this raw food diet is also packed with calcium, which strengthens and protects teeth while killing bacteria that causes tartar and decay.

Natural raw diet also promotes brain functions (makes ferret smarter and more adept to training) and develops healthier coat. In addition, there is a noticeable decreased in stool volume because most of the food is digested and absorbed by the body. Foul smell of the stool, which is usually caused by preservatives, is also decreased.

Natural raw ferret diet drawbacks

Natural raw diet also has some drawbacks, rotting being the most common. Unlike commercial ferret foods, raw beef will become stale after a few hours when not consumed or left outside a freezer. Some ferrets have a tendency to hide or stash any leftover food. This is connected to the fact that they eat several times a day, so stashing is a natural survival instinct. Obviously, when your pet ferret consumes a meat that has already rotten, it becomes highly at risk to various health issues including diarrhea and food poisoning. As a solution to this risk, make sure to always remove any leftover foods. Also make it a habit to regularly clean your ferret pet’s cage or enclosure and see to it that no food is stashed in the corners.

During the initial phase of introducing a raw diet, ferret may develop symptoms of acidity, which is normal as the body finds a way to digest and dissolve the little bones mixed with the meat. There is also a noticeable change of stool color from dark to white or light grey. Often, a medical checkup is not needed as the ferret’s system will eventually adjust.

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