Most Common Mistakes when Feeding your Ferret

Although considered a small animal, ferrets are big in terms of eating. Due to their active and playful nature, feeding your ferret must be done on a regular basis to sustain their energy requirement. Aside from calories, their body needs regular supply of vitamins and minerals to enable them to grow properly and avoid developing a number of diseases that they are susceptible to.

Most ferrets will eat foods such as fruits and vegetables out of curiosity, but this is a no no. Ferrets are obligate carnivores, which means that their diet must consist of meat in order to survive. Whether cooked or raw, ferrets get most of their nutritional needs from slices or grounded meat items. Even though meat is healthy especially for growing ferrets, there are instances when improper choice of meat and other foods lead to various medical conditions and sicknesses. To avoid these unwanted circumstances, you must avoid the most common mistakes made by owners with regards to their pet’s daily diet.

Feeding Your Ferret

Photo:  Emily Neef |Flickr

Giving Unclean Meat Products When Feeding Your Ferret

Feeding your ferret raw meat product can bring many health issues due to the fact that raw meat can easily become stale and easily form harmful parasites and bacteria. To avoid bacterial infection, make sure to cook the meat before serving. It is recommended to cook in medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes. Exposing the meat to heat will not only kill bacteria and harmful substances, but will also tenderize and soften it for easier digestion. Ferrets have sensitive digestive system so make sure to slice the meat into thin and small pieces before serving. Ground meat mixed with eggs is a highly suggested meal.

Dog Food

In the past, when ferret food choices were limited, many owners give dog food to their pet ferrets without knowing that doing so will probably lead to many medical issues like malnutrition. The scientific explanation behind this is the fact that most commercially made dog foods don’t give the proper amount of nutritional value that ferrets need. Furthermore, dog foods contain loads of complex carbohydrates, which are not digested by ferret’s sensitive digestive system. Aside from having a short intestinal tract, ferrets must get high levels of calories from meat products that contain simple carbohydrates, protein and fat. A balance and healthy ferret diet must be made up of the following nutritional value – 35% protein, minimum 30 % fat, high levels of energy, and low fiber.

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Dog food is obviously made for the dietary needs of dogs, which is far from the nutritional needs of ferrets. Fortunately, with the increasing popularity of ferrets as family pets, there are now many commercially made ferret food available in supermarkets and pet shops.

Cat food

Aside from dog food, cat food was also one of the most common food choices for feeding your ferret in the past. Before the 1980’s period, most ferret owners were left with no choice but to opt for cat food, as well as commercially made fox diet. During that time, instead of making homemade ferret meals which were commonly made with uncooked meat and bones (sometimes with chicken parts, liver and eggs), ferret owners found it more convenient to buy readymade cat food. The only problem was these commercially made meals were sold in large quantities so buying means spending a lot of cash.

Similar to dog food, cat food will not supply the proper amount of nutrition that ferrets need for their daily diet. Although ferrets will certainly like the taste of these flavored cat food, the nutritional value it provides is not appropriate for ferrets especially the carbohydrate and fat content. In addition, most of these commercially made cat food contain just half of the daily calorie intake of ferrets, so you need to spend more just to be make sure your pet is provided with enough energy source.

When left with no choice but to feed cat food, make sure to only buy trusted brands which are often sold in vet clinics and pet stores. Cheap brands from local groceries likely contain lower nutritional value and are often made with low quality meat ingredients that can lead to health issues such as diarrhea and frequent bowel movement.

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