Ferrets are strictly carnivorous animals , just like cats. This means that they must obtain their energy from proteins of animal origin and fat and are unable to digest large amounts of carbohydrates. Dog feed is not suitable for ferrets because its composition is deficient for them, even those of very good quality.
Until a few years ago there were no feeds formulated specifically for ferrets, but now we have a few brands that facilitate the task of feeding them. Always look in the container for the list of ingredients instead of the percentages of each nutrient. The ingredients must be ordered in descending order, that is, the most abundant first. For a food to be good for a ferret, the first three ingredients must be of animal origin . Surely afterwards it includes corn or some sweetener, but these should be in the least amount possible in the diet that ferrets eat. The fibers should not exceed 3%; Ferrets can not digest it in their short intestine and an excess causes gastroenteritis.Analyze especially the first five ingredients ; You should not find any type of fruits or vegetables there and the corn or rice should appear in fourth or fifth place. The fruits and vegetables are not part of what they eat because ferrets do not digest and can cause an intestinal blockage, so you should never give them.
Pay attention also to the goodies . Most are made from grains, fruits, vegetables and sugar, something totally inappropriate for ferrets. If you are going to give one of these treats to your pet, try not to overdo it, in the same way that you would not give a child an excessive amount of chocolate. A healthier option that ferrets can eat are pieces of raw meat suitable for human consumption, or liver or heart, even some egg or, if you tolerate it, a mouse. The most perfect diet that ferrets eat are whole dams. You can get mice or frozen rats that are used to feed carnivorous reptiles, but few people agree to give this type of food to their pets for an aesthetic issue or difficulty to get it or store it.
If you do not find these feeds for ferrets where you live, you can still use a Premium food for baby kittens and supplement it with fresh foods and a supplement of fatty acids and vitamins. The economic feeds for cats do not contain enough fat and the proteins are not of good quality, therefore they are not recommended for ferrets . What you save in food you will pay in bills from the veterinarian and your pet will suffer some degree of malnutrition or disease.
It is being studied if the high incidence of insulinomas (pancreatic beta cell tumors) that suffer from pets is due to excessive carbohydrate content in the diets that ferrets eat (these should not exceed 34% of the total). The digestion of these nutrients constitutes an overload for the pancreas that could lead to the hypertrophy and tumor degeneration of this organ. This mechanism has not been scientifically proven, but it has been seen that the incidence of this type of tumor has increased in countries where more feed and fewer natural diets are used.
Another option is foods formulated for minks or foxes , but these are not always available and are usually sold in very large sacks for hatcheries.
A good food for ferrets should contain:
- At least 35% protein
- At least 20% fat
- Very low amount of fibers
It is also recommended to supplement the diet for ferrets with cooked meat. Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria and parasites, so it is always advisable to cook food before giving it to our pets. It is ideal to give your ferret some chicken, including skin, liver, fat, heart, etc. Think that in the wild they would hunt an animal and eat it whole. It is even good to let them nibble on some bones , because they get excellent nutrients from the bone marrow, as well as entertain these restless little ones. However, avoid bird bones, as they splinter easily and can cause serious injuries to the digestive tract.
It is important to emphasize that ferrets must have a dish with food and fresh water available 24 hours a day . They usually eat small portions several times a day (up to 10 times a day!). This is because your digestive system can process little food each time and its high metabolism requires frequent meals to get enough energy. The feed for ferrets is spoiled very fast, so you have to control every day that everything is in good condition. The water must be in heavy dishes or subject to the ferrets cage that can not be tipped over or in bottles with a spout .
We will never tire of repeating that a proper diet is essential to achieve a harmonious growth and maintain the health of any pet. If you worry about achieving a balanced nutrition you will avoid many visits to the vet and you will have a happier ferret. Take a look at the Tiendanimal website to find the most suitable feed for your ferret:
- Food of different textures
- Healthy snacks and treats
- Nutritional supplements
- Complete feed ( JR FARM , Lolo Pets , Cunipic Superpremium …)
- And if you want to give an extra contribution of energy and vitamins, bet on the fortifying and restorative supplement Anima Strath .
Dr. Isabel Iglesias