TEN THINGS FERRET OWNERS SHOULD KNOW
#8: WHAT TO FEED YOUR FERRET
Ferrets are obligate carnivores, and they have very specific nutritional
needs. Do not feed your ferret "grocery store-bought" cat or kitten
foods such as Meow Mix or Cat Chow; these are nutritionally incomplete
diets and can cause medical problems and a shorter lifespan for
Ferrets have very specific nutritional needs. They must have a
diet that is high in meat-based (not vegetable) proteins, and high
in fat. They are obligate carnivores, so they require a primarily
meat based food. Examine the label of any food that you feed your
ferrets. In the ingredients section, look at the first five ingredients.
The first ingredient should be some kind of meat, such as chicken,
chicken meal or chicken byproducts. You want to find a diet that
also contains at least two other meat derivatives in these first
five ingredients. Avoid corn, corn meal, corn gleuten meal, or anything
similar. If your food does contain a corn product, it should not
be listed in the first few ingredients. The farther down the list,
Now look at the nutritional analysis. The protein content of the
food you are feeding should be a minimum of 34%, with 36%- 40% being
optimal. The fat content should be no less than 19%, with 22% being
optimal for young and adult ferrets. Older ferrets can have a lower
fat content than young ferrets, but should still not be below 19%.
So what foods are good to feed your ferret? Our shelter uses and
recommends the following foods: Totally Ferret, The Ferret Store's
Superior Choice, Zupreem Ferret Food, 8 - in - 1 Ultimate Diet.
(Please note: the company 8-in-1 makes several kinds of ferret food.
The only one that we recommend is the Ultimate Diet; two other products,
Ultra-Blend and Premium Diet, are not complete foods). All are available
at The Ferret
Store. Some pet stores will also carry these foods.
While cat or kitten food is usually not recommended for ferrets,
the following are two good foods that we use and recommend (check
- Eukanuba Kitten Food
- Innova Feline Diet
We recommend that you feed a blend of foods to your ferret rather
than one single food. First, it helps to give some variety in your
ferret's diet. Secondly, if your food is ever unavailable for any
reason, you won't have to deal with trying to introduce a new food
to your ferret. There are a number of other higher-quality cat and
ferret foods that you can use in your mix that are not on their
own a nutritionally complete diet. As long as the primary ingredient
in your mix is one of the foods listed above, you can also offer
any of the following in your mix for variety: Pro Plan Kitten food;
Purina ONE Kitten; Nutrition Maxx Kitten; Iams Kitten ; most ferret
foods on the market, such as Mazuri, Marshall's, KayTee Forti-Diet,
and 8-in-1 Ultra Blend, just to name a few.
You should always feed a kibble (solid) food to your ferret, never
a moist canned diet, unless your ferret is ill and you need to hand-feed.
If interested in a more natural diet for ferrets, please contact
the shelter for information. Here is a recipe
for Bob C's Chicken Diet, similiar to the BARF diet for dogs and
cats, but designed specifically for ferrets.
Also, ferrets have short digestive systems - complete digestion
takes place in about three hours. For this reason, you should always
have food available to your ferret. Do not feed only once or twice
a day, unless recommended by your veterinarian for a medical reason.
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