An important aspect of taking care of a pet is dietary needs – if you are curious about choosing the best ferret food for your little furry friend, read this guide to find more.
Ferrets are known to be carnivores, so you can’t feed them grain, fruits, and veggies and expect them to gain nutritional value from such foods. That’s because their tummies were designed to only process meat and other protein and fat sources.
Moreover, they can’t even digest fiber-based foods, so feeding them will be a little tricky for the dos and don’ts.
If you are new to taking care of a ferret, you need to know first what to feed them, how much to feed them, and other points in choosing the ideal ferret food for your little friend.
- How to choose the best ferret food
- Are cat foods okay for ferrets?
- What are the Best Ferret Foods?
- How much food to buy for your ferret
- Can I give treats to a ferret?
- Which foods are not suitable for ferrets?
- Baby ferret food
- Is dog food safe for a ferret?
- Is human food safe for ferrets?
How to choose the best ferret food
To give the best kind of nutrition for your ferret, here are the key factors in any food (raw or packaged) that you should look for:
High-quality protein content
Consider 30 to 40% protein for your ferret since they are on a carnivorous diet. Protein sources are common in meat so consider giving them grocery or market food, preferably raw.
In the wild, they mostly eat raw food, and it keeps them healthy while also strengthening their teeth – they might not do so well with cooked food when it comes to nutrient retention.
Aside from that, the protein should not be plant-based (such as peas) because ferrets can only digest meat.
Although meat protein is a little more expensive when compared to packaged foods with a lot of grains and fillers, you’re guaranteeing quality nutrition for your ferret in the long run.
Consider meat and poultry sources that are whole or first ingredients. Don’t look for packages or at least avoid those that have by-products, which are bits of other parts of an animal that are not very digestible for pets, especially ferrets.
Among the raw meat that a ferret can eat include the following:
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, game birds, pigeons)
- Offal or carcass
- Bones (for teeth cleaning)
Another great source of protein that doesn’t have to be meat is an egg. It can be given to your ferret as a treat and part of their protein consumption daily. Moreover, many ferrets do enjoy scrambled or raw eggs due to their nutritional value, such as protein.
Fish is also a great and safe protein source for your ferret. Take note that if you do consider fish as a source of protein for your ferret, make sure they aren’t too smelly.
Consider salmon and other cold-water fish as part of their diet. Do know that some ferrets are picky eaters, so they might not like the taste of fish.
Low in carbohydrates and fiber
Consider the food with 3% fiber or less to make sure it will be easy to digest for your little friend. Fiber is not digestible by any pet that has a mainly carnivorous diet.
If you want your ferret to stay healthy, it’s best to avoid foods with fiber and carbs and only stick to a high-protein diet, such as meat sources (which are reputable and high in quality).
Moreover, added sugars, such as corn syrup, fructose, and sucrose, are not recommended for ferret food because they are high in carbs and might cause your pet to get sick later on.
While grocery pet food is okay, always make sure you read the labels before giving them any kind of food to avoid digestive upsets and other health issues along the way.
Look for foods around 20 to 30% in fat, which is also often found in most meat products. Fat goes hand in hand with protein, and ferrets need that. In the wild, they not only feast on meat rich in protein but also rich in fat.
The benefit of fat to their bodies is to give them the energy source that they need. However, they do need to be fed responsibly to avoid overweight issues.
A good source of fats is any food that has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. You can find them from chicken and similar poultry.
Some fish also have such fatty acids but do keep in mind that certain ferrets are a little picky when it comes to seafood due to their awful stench.
Don’t buy or avoid giving them foods with a lot of gluten or grains in the ingredients because they are not easily digestible by your ferret. Since they are strict carnivores, these grainy foods will end up causing them digestive upsets in the future.
Always look into the label and avoid starchy foods if you eventually have to buy them in a pet shop or grocery. Keep in mind that ferrets are meat-eaters, so you should keep it that way by only giving them meat without the excessive fillers.
While cats and dogs can take some fillers, ferrets don’t have a complex stomach to process such.
Are cat foods okay for ferrets?
Yes, ferrets can eat dry cat food, but with caution. After all, not all ferret owners have access to a pet store that sells real ferret food, so they have to settle with regular cat food.
In an emergency, ferrets can eat cat food if you can’t find the appropriate food source for their needs.
Regardless, there are pointers you should know about. Here’s what you should keep in mind if you do try kitty food for your ferret:
Don’t go for grocery store foods
These usually have lots of grain and fillers that are not ideal for your ferret. Consider getting from a pet store because they are the ones who usually sell high-quality pet food.
Many grocery store foods for pets, especially the cheapest ones, are not very good when it comes to ingredients. They are mostly made with an unnecessary fiber that your ferret does not need.
Also, when you do want to give cat food, make sure it is kitten food because these are the ones that are higher in protein and are more suitable for ferrets in terms of nutritional value.
That is to say, it’s still okay to give them adult food but make sure it doesn’t contain fillers.
Consider switching to real ferret food in adulthood
While cat food (formulas for kittens) is okay for baby ferrets, the nutrition of an adult ferret is much more different, and regular cat food might not be sufficient for that.
That’s also why we recommend kitten food for your ferret if you do want to feed them with cat food in place of real ferret food.
Look for quality brands
For example, pet brands such as Eukanuba do sell quality foods for pets, including cats.
If you do want to get cat food, consider looking for quality pet brands that you know sell organic and/or reputable meat sources that don’t contain by-products (as we mentioned above).
Always check the labels
Using the guide we listed above, make sure that if you do buy cat food, always look for a formula that doesn’t contain many sugars, fiber, and unnecessary fillers. In this way, you can expect your ferret to eat healthily and live happily.
What are the Best Ferret Foods?
If you want to know which foods are ideal for ferrets, we’ve put together a list of quality products for your little friend:
Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Small Animal Food
Many pet owners swear by this brand, and the Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Small Animal Food is a great choice for ferrets because of its crunchy pieces.
To keep them interested in eating while also strengthening their teeth, these crunchy pieces will also keep them busy.
Packed in a 3-pound bag, this ferret food is easy to feed and ideal for promoting gut health thanks to its probiotics and prebiotics. If you have a ferret that has problems with eating smelly food, this is a good choice.
Not to mention, it is a budget alternative to wet or raw food, and it is also suitable for ferrets that are picky eaters.
Supreme Petfoods Science Selective Ferret Food
With 36% protein content, the Supreme Petfoods Science Selective Ferret Food is made with chicken and turkey that will be easy to digest for your ferret.
Besides protein, it also has a couple of vitamins and minerals that will keep them strong and healthy while reducing pet odor. Aside from that, it has taurine and linseed to maintain their eye health and their coat.
NBone Ferret Chew Treats Salmon Flavor
If you want to give your ferret some treats, we recommend the NBone Ferret Chew Treats Salmon Flavor. At 1.87 ounces, this flavorful treat can be used for behavior training for your ferret.
Since it is made with natural ingredients without artificial colors or preservatives, it is a healthy treat for your pet.
What’s more, it will help promote healthier teeth and tartar removal due to its chewy design. Likewise, it has omega 3 and 6 for healthier skin and coat of your ferret. The sticks are sized just right for your ferret’s mouth to avoid accidents.
Wysong Ferret Epigen 90 Digestive Support
Another food that focuses on gut health, the Wysong Ferret Epigen 90 Digestive Support, is a starch-free formula containing 62% protein and 16% fat, which will help keep your ferret healthy and strong without the fillers.
It also contains probiotics and prebiotics to maintain their gut health.
Ideal for all life stages, this ferret food is made with chicken as the first ingredient. Among its other ingredients include fish oil, while it also has vitamin A, vitamin E, and zinc for immunity.
Moreover, we like that the box for the food packaging is made from post-consumer recycled materials.
Marshall Pet Products Uncle Jims Duk Soup Mix
If you want to serve something unique to your little ones, the Marshall Pet Products Uncle Jims Duk Soup Mix is a great ferret food to consider. This mix is ideal for ferrets that are picky eaters.
Since it is a soft diet, it is also recommended for ferrets recovering from an illness or surgery recently.
As for the packaging, we like that it has a resealable bag to keep the food fresh. The ferret food will help boost their immune system and return their appetite.
How much food to buy for your ferret
Feeding new ferret food should be done gradually to avoid digestive upsets. Don’t buy a lot of the new food to avoid wasting it when the worst scenario comes into play.
First, put a little bit of the new food and slowly increase the amount while decreasing the old food. This will ensure that your pet won’t be shocked or have behavior issues when feeding them.
If you do buy from a pet store, always look at the instructions and learn how to feed the food depending on your ferret’s age, weight, and other factors.
Can I give treats to a ferret?
Yes, ferrets are okay when it comes to treats. However, it depends on what kinds of treats you have. Many pet owners use treats for various purposes, such as training their ferret or helping with behavioral issues.
Training a ferret is difficult because they tend to bite their owner. Using the treat reward system is okay, but it should not be used too much to avoid dietary problems.
There are many ferret treats to choose from, such as eggs, liver treats, and bits of meats. As with their regular diet, don’t go for treats with fillers, too much sugar, and grains to avoid digestive upsets.
Many treats also come in the form of chewable food. These will help promote teeth health and strength while keeping their gums clean as well. Remember that ferrets are still part of the rodent family, so maintaining a chewing routine is good for them overall.
If you do give treats to your ferret, make sure they are included in the daily computation of their diet, especially with the protein and fat intake.
Which foods are not suitable for ferrets?
The following are the foods that you shouldn’t feed your furry friend:
- Fruits (apples, berries, guavas, kiwi, oranges, raisins, plums, pears, bananas)
- Vegetables (beans, sprouts, spinach, lentils, broccoli, sweet potato, onions)
- Peanut butter
- Rice and other grains
- Cooked bones (should be raw)
So, as you see from the list above, generally, you cannot feed your ferret vegetables or fruits because of their inability to digest them.
Only stick to meat, preferably raw, to avoid digestive upsets for your ferret, especially when they are still young. If you see any of the above-mentioned foods in the food packaging, don’t give them to your ferret.
Baby ferret food
A baby ferret can be fed fresh meat in small amounts. However, if you combine it with low lactose milk, such as goat’s milk, it will help them stay healthy while developing. The milk is best given in dinnertime for your baby ferret.
Moreover, by feeding your baby ferret different kinds of food, such as meat sources, you’re lessening the likelihood of your little one becoming a picky eater.
A picky eater will be more susceptible to health problems, and that is why feeding them properly while they are still young will get them used to different kinds of foods.
When choosing ferret food for babies, you should also refrain from giving them treats early on unless you’re already housetraining them. Treats in the market are sometimes filled with unnecessary ingredients that might be difficult to digest for little ferrets.
Is dog food safe for a ferret?
Strictly speaking, no, because many dog food in the commercial world is filled with fillers that are not digestible by ferrets.
While it is true that many dog food, such as the organic types, do have a high protein content, they will still contain some fiber and veggies that are not suitable for a ferret’s digestive system.
Is human food safe for ferrets?
That depends but in general, no. The only two human foods you can safely feed your ferret include meat and eggs. Always consider raw foods because that’s what they eat in the wild.
If you have doubts about certain food types, you can also ask your vet for advice, especially if you have limited food options in your area.
In the long run, when it comes to the best ferret food, you should always look for quality protein sources and avoid fillers.
Since they are carnivorous in a strict way, always make sure that they only eat meat and protein foods without the fiber, fruits, and veggies.
Due to their unique digestive system, knowing what you should and should not feed a ferret is important to avoid stomach problems.