Here we can see, “What Does a Raw Diet Mean for Your Pet Ferret?”
Commercial ferret diets and feeding suggestions have gone a long way in recent years, but the question of what is the optimum food for pet ferrets remains unanswered. Massive concerns about the safety of ingredients used in pet food manufacturing as a result of recalls in 2007 have only aggravated the situation.
Ferrets are “obligate” carnivores, meaning they are only supposed to eat meat. Grain, sugar, and fillers like maize are not meant for ferrets to digest. Unfortunately, they are employed in the preparation of many ferret diets, particularly some of the older ones. Years ago, high-quality kitten foods were typically better suited to meet the protein and fat requirements of ferrets than the few ferret foods available. Ferret nutrition science has advanced significantly, and processed ferret foods are significantly better (and more widely available) than they were previously, but are processed foods sufficient?More ferret owners are asking if feeding their pets more natural meals like whole prey or raw foods is a better approach to meet their nutritional demands. The best thing you can do is consult with your veterinarian on the food to feed your ferret.
On the subject of pet nutrition, including ferret feeds, opinions are obviously diverse and frequently fairly passionate. What we intend to do here is to examine current feeding guidelines for ferrets, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of more natural diets such as whole prey and raw diets.
We won’t promote one feeding method over another since we believe that, in the end, each owner must make their own decision based on the information available. We also understand that, in the end, the owners’ comfort levels, convenience, and comfort with food handling and safety issues will all play a role. We don’t want to argue about the best way to eat or judge anyone’s choices.
Before we begin, a few disclaimers and disclosures should be made: the author is not a dietitian or a ferret owner, and their other pets are fed processed foods.
Basic Requirements for a Ferret Diet
- High protein: 30-40 percent on the nutrient analysis
- Protein must be high quality, highly digestible, and be animal-based
- High fat (at least 20 percent)
- Very low in carbohydrates and fiber (less than 3 percent fiber)
Dry Foods That Have Been Processed
Dry ferret meals have gone a long way in terms of science and understanding ferret needs, but not all ferret foods are created equal. Ferret owners must read labels carefully while selecting food for their pets. Regrettably, the nutritional analysis does not provide the complete picture. You should also look through the ingredient list because the quality and availability of proteins and fats might differ significantly (though even ingredient lists can be misleading). There are, however, several high-quality dry ferret feeds that many experts regard as being well-balanced diets.
What Does “Natural Diets” Mean?
Commercial diets can be replaced with a variety of options, including cooked homemade formulations. However, for the purposes of this post, we’ll be talking about entire prey and raw meals, which are said to be more like the diets of the domestic ferret’s wild ancestors. Such diets appear to be gaining appeal among ferret owners as well as cat and dog owners.
- Mice and chicks, either fresh or frozen/thawed, are the most common ingredients in whole prey diets. It is neither essential nor suggested to feed live prey. Look for providers who raise their prey in a healthy environment and pre-kill them in a humane manner (and without toxic residues).
- Diets based on raw meat and bones (often unappetizingly called BARF diets, short for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods” or “Bones and Raw Foods”) These can be homemade or commercially prepared—but it’s not simple to locate raw diets suitable for ferrets because many raw dog foods, and even many cat foods, contain grains and vegetables. Raw foods that are sold in stores are either frozen or freeze-dried, but freeze-drying is thought to reduce nutritional value.
As you can see, the variety of options only adds to the confusion. But, compared to dry foods that are made in a factory, what are the pros and cons of natural diets as a whole?
- Better control over food and ingredient quality—can select very high-quality proteins and fats.
- Whole prey diets give a well-balanced, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet by default. Raw diets that have been carefully prepared can provide the same benefits.
- Natural diets are high in moisture, which is thought to be helpful.
- The domestic ferret is more like its wild ancestors when it eats whole prey and a well-balanced raw diet.
- Raw foods/bones and whole prey encourage improved dental health.
- Owners who switched their ferrets to whole prey or balanced raw foods say that their pets have more energy, look stronger, and have healthier teeth and hair. They also say that their ferrets have less waste and don’t smell as much.
Insulinoma is more common in nations where processed dry foods are popular and less common in countries where whole prey diets are popular, as proponents of the whole prey diet point out. Although no cause-and-effect relationship has been established, the high prevalence of insulinoma in North American ferrets is alarming. Insulinomas are pancreatic tumours that include cells that make insulin, which is needed for sugar metabolism.
- To make homemade meals balanced, extreme caution is required (for example, meat alone is extremely unbalanced and unhealthy—whole prey diets are considered balanced because the ferret eats everything, even bones and organs). Commercial raw or freeze-dried foods may be a better alternative because they are already balanced, but you must look for ones that are predominantly meat-based (ones formulated for dogs usually have veggies; surprisingly, many intended for cats do too).
- Wild animals may improve the balance of their diet by dining on different ages of prey. Changing the ages of prey as well as the sorts of prey and food available may help to relieve this problem.
- Bacteria or parasites that may be present in raw meals pose a risk (though the digestive systems of carnivores are better equipped to deal with bacteria than ours, the bacteria may be shed in the feces). Maintain a focus on high-quality sources.
- Because of hygiene and food handling concerns (like the chance of Salmonella or E. coli being present in raw meat or processing areas), food bowls must be cleaned and sanitised right after being used.
- Ferrets shouldn’t be able to hide pieces of raw food around their cage or housing because it could go bad or cause hygiene problems.
- Whole prey sources can be both costly and cumbersome.
- Preparing raw bones and meal diets from scratch can be costly and time-consuming.
Whole prey or raw diets, according to proponents, are better for ferrets since they mimic their wild ancestors’ diets. Dr. Karen Rosenthal of Ferrets magazine points out that we don’t really know if ferrets’ digestive systems are comparable to those of their wild forebears, nor do we have proof that wild animals don’t have difficulty digesting their natural foods.
Where It Is Now
As a ferret owner, you must conduct thorough research and be confident in the food you choose. Regardless of whether you choose a processed or whole prey/raw diet, you must ensure that it is of high quality and properly balanced. We strongly advise you to do a lot of your own reading and research on the subject, and to thoroughly investigate all of the difficulties regarding ferret diets.
How much do ferrets eat on a raw diet?
The following ratios should be included in a ferret’s balanced raw diet: Adult ferrets should consume 10% of their body weight in two meals per day. with a 20% objective for four meals per day. Bones that are edible: 10-15% (please note the use of the word edible.)
Can ferrets eat scrambled eggs?
When thoroughly cooked, eggs provide a very healthy quantity of protein and fat, both of which your ferret requires, as well as critical vitamins. One to two boiled eggs every week are a terrific addition to your ferret’s diet, and they’ll almost certainly enjoy it!
Why do ferrets eat raw meat?
Ferrets are carnivores who eat only meat. They hunt and devour whole animals in the wild, which include raw flesh, raw bones, other tissue, and digested vegetative materials. They need to eat mostly meat and animal products that are high in protein, fat, and low in carbs and fiber.
Can ferrets eat fish?
Ferrets can eat fish since it is safe for them to eat, but it is not a natural part of their diet. As a result, it’s possible that your ferret will dislike or refuse to eat certain, or any, fish. Some people also avoid giving their ferrets fish since it can cause their droppings to stink.
Can ferrets eat fruit?
The digestive tracts of ferrets are designed to break down meat rather than complex carbohydrates. Fruit, even as a treat, should never be given to your ferret. While some ferret owners may think it’s fine, the American Ferret Association cautions against giving bananas, raisins, apples, carrots, or any other fruit or vegetable to ferrets.
I hope you found this helpful guide. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the form below.