Ferrets are sociable animals and can be great pets. Especially, if you have kept one since it was a baby. That way you can teach them many things that can get harder to teach as the animal gets older. It is also recommended that you keep two ferrets together as they like to have friends.
They love to have fun and are very playful! They are more high maintenance than dogs or cats. They require a lot of attention and need to play outside their cages daily. It is recommended that you keep an eye out when they are playing around with children in case there is any playful nipping that can cause harm. Ferrets are quite mischievous and destructive, which is something a lot of pet owners need to be careful about.
A ferret’s diet can be managed easily by consulting the pet shop you got it from. You can find pre-made food mixes for them. It is always good to know what your ferret requires in terms of nutrients to be sure that you are doing everything you can to help them live a healthy life.
Ferrets are strictly carnivores which means that they prey on animals. Their diet consists of raw bones and raw meat. Their diet is extremely high in protein and fat content. But low in carbs and fiber.
If you have both dogs and ferrets as pets, you might be wondering if the dog food is safe for a ferret. It is not uncommon for a ferret to steal some kips of food from a dog’s food bowl at any given opportunity, they are indeed quite mischievous animals! But you might be wondering if it is safe for them to eat. And the answer is no, your pet ferret should not be eating dog food.
While you might not notice any adverse effects immediately, dog food can harm your pet ferret in the long run.
Why You Should Not Feed Your Ferret Dog Food
When keeping different animals as pets, you might see them sharing their food. It might seem like it is okay to do so, and while your ferret taking little bits of your dog’s food from its bowl might not seem like a big deal, it can lead to a lot of health issues in the long run.
Dogs and ferrets have different requirements in their diets. While something like vegetables might be good for your dog, they might cause serious health issues in your ferret.
There are multiple reasons why you should not be feeding your ferret dog food.
Their digestive tracts are short and small which is capable of only processing meat. Dogs are omnivores and their food mixes contain not only protein but other substances like vegetables that your ferret’s digestive system will not be able to process. Instead, it will lead to their digestive tract wasting too much energy in trying to digest the things it cannot. It can also cause blockages and lead to more serious problems like kidney failure.
Their digestive systems are not equipped to digest or extract the nutrients present in dog food, as they have different nutritional needs. Ferrets require more protein and amino acids. If not given the required number of amino acids, it can lead to urinary tract stones which are painful for your pet.
Taurine is an important building block for your ferret’s digestive system which is not present in dog food. They need taurine to function properly. Lack of taurine can lead to different health issues like congestive heart failure, blindness, and even worse- death.
Since dog food contains a lot of carbohydrates, it can be very hard for your pet ferret to digest. They need low carbohydrates in their diet. And since ferrets are fed twice a day, that amount of carbohydrates can cause some major health issues.
Ferrets do not need fiber which is also present in dog food. Fiber can cause problems in their digestive tracts and waste their acquired energy.
Another concern is the size of the food. Dog food is made to be chewed by canine teeth and is bigger as compared to a ferret’s food. This can damage their teeth.
Considering all of this, it is best if you choose the diet that contains the necessary nutrients and is suitable for your ferret to consume.
It is never recommended for your ferret to feed on dog food. It must be avoided at all times.
What You Should Feed Your Ferret
Since ferrets are carnivorous animals, it’s important that they only eat meat. Since they have a small intestinal tract, it’s important to feed them the food they can digest quickly and fully. They require high amounts of protein to make sure their digestive system can absorb the required nutrients efficiently.
Your best bet is to feed them raw meat, cut into little bits so your pet can chew them easily. They can eat the meat of birds like pigeons, chickens, and turkeys. Lamb meat is also okay.
When feeding them raw meat bones, make sure that they are the size that your ferret can fit into their mouths and not harm their teeth. Even though raw meat bones are a recommended food for your pet ferret, you might want to consult your veterinarian before you feed them. Some ferrets with dental problems have a hard time consuming raw meat bones.
At least 20% of their diet should be fat content. They have a high metabolism rate and for it to function properly, they need a diet with high-fat content, as these fats help store fat-soluble vitamins that maintain their physical well-being.
They need to be fed twice a day. However, due to their fast metabolism, they might need to be fed throughout the day but in little amounts. It is best to have a professional opinion to figure the best diet plan for your pet ferret.
Anything other than pure meat with high protein content is considered to be bad for your ferret. However, more and more food mixes are coming out. Perfectly tailored to your pet ferret’s needs and veterinarian approved!
You can buy ferret food mixes at any pet store. These mixes already contain all the necessary protein your pet might need and does not require any other effort. Simply serving the recommended amount of these mixes to your pet is ideal. This is the safest option.
Are There Any Alternatives To Ferret Food?
There might be times where you must not have any option but to find the next best thing to your pre-made ferret food mixes. And when that time comes, it is best to pick up kitten food mixes as they are high in protein compared to others. You must keep different mixes for your pet ferret on hand in case one runs out, but if you cannot find a food mix suitable for your ferret, kitten food mixes are high in protein and can be a good alternative for some time. While they are not sustainable, (because of course, they still do not contain all the nutrients necessary for your pet ferret to thrive) these food mixes are certainly a respectable alternative to maintain their diet.
If your pet ferret keeps stealing dog food, it is recommended that you keep them in their cage while your dog eats. Or make sure the food bowl is empty before you let your ferret run around.
You need to make sure your ferret stays healthy and happy and the best way to do this is to make sure their diet is exactly what they need!
Ferrets are curious creatures and they might choose to chew on anything that might catch their eye. It is important to be aware of this at all times as certain things when swallowed can cause them to choke or damage their intestines. It is also their instinct to hunt or prey on small animals so it might not be safe for your little kittens or hamsters, should you have any, to be left alone with them.
All in all, ferrets are adorable little creatures and make for great pets if taken care of properly. They just need a dedicated caretaker willing to give them all the attention they need and commit to maintaining their physical well-being.
If at any time you feel like trying out different ferret food mixes, it is best to mix them in their old ones and slowly make changes to their diet. Ferrets will not adapt immediately to new diets and require patience.
Now that you know all there is to know about feeding your ferret, or rather what not to feed your ferret- you can continue to be a responsible pet owner, worry-free! If any concerns arise, it is best to contact your local veterinarian and they can guide you regarding anything you might want to know.