If you are like many first time ferret or even veteran ferret owners, you may be asking yourself what the best ferret food is for your furry friend.
As many owners know, ferrets have delicate digestive systems. Diarrhoea, constipation, and down right concerning looking bowel movements are not uncommon side effects after a ferret has found leftover human or other pet food, or has decided to snack on non-edibles such as shoes, rubber bands, and clothing.
This article will help navigate the ins and outs of finding the best ferret food, including what to look for and definitely what to avoid, as well as the pros and cons of a raw food diet and sharing your snacks with your friend.
Features to Look For In The Best Ferret Food
1.The Best Ferret Food Should Be High In Animal Protein
In the wild, black-footed ferrets in the United States mainly feast on prairie dogs, while their cousins native to other areas of the world prefer rabbits and other small animals. While some changes have occurred with the domestication of ferrets, the need for animal protein as the main source of fuel has not.
As many ferrets owners know, ferrets eat frequently, usually every three to four hours. Additionally, their digestive tract is very short, meaning they have a bowel movement usually as frequently. This means ferrets need a very specific, specialized diet full of exactly what they need and not much else.
The best ferret food will contain a minimum of 30% protein, but if you can find ferret food that contains between 35% and 38% protein, that is ideal.
2.The Best Ferret Food Should Be High In Fat
Whereas most humans have been taught that fat is an inherently bad source of energy, it is incredibly important for a healthy, thriving ferret to eat food that has a minimum of 18% crude fat, while the best ferret food for young kits, nursing mothers, and very active adults has up to 25% fat.
While any ferret owner can attest to the fact that their furry friend sleeps hours upon hours a day, a healthy ferret also loves to play with other ferrets, their humans, and other animals in the house, and they like to play hard. Fat helps to keep them energized and at a healthy weight.
3.The Best Ferret Food Should Be Low In Carbohydrates
Ferrets, unlike humans, dogs, and many other mammals, are obligate carnivores. This means that they need to get the majority of their energy from animal matter and generally cannot digest fiber and raw starches, and only need a small amount to supply bulk to the waste matter moving through their digestive system.
Therefore, the best ferret food will contain low levels of carbohydrates. In the wild, a ferret would generally only consume plant based matter that was contained in the digestive tract of their prey.
Best Ferret Food Brands
There are two main commercial brands to consider for those who are trying to find the best ferret food.
Marshalls is one of the most well known and easily found brands of ferret food. While there are a couple different varieties, two of the best include Premium Ferret Diet and Select Chicken Formula Premium Ferret Diet. If you have a Marshall ferret, Marshall does guarantee their ferrets from certain congenital defects up until their first year as long as they are fed an exclusive Marshall food diet, so this is something to consider.
Wysong is another brand that is well known and is a fantastic choice for ferrets. Ferret Epigen 90 Digestive Support is considered by some to be the best ferret food, as it is very high in protein and fat, and contains no starches such as pea flower, which can result in dangerous health concerns such as bladder stones.
Check out Ferret Food Review article for a break down of protein, fat and fibre in each of the foods.
Is The Best Ferret Food Raw Food?
Some people believe that the best food for the pets, such as cats, dogs, and ferrets, is as close as what they would consume in the wild. While it is important to provide your ferret a diet that is high in protein and fat, there are a couple of problems with feeding your ferrets a raw food diet.
In many areas, it is actually illegal to feed any animal, including ferrets, a live raw food diet. Additionally, raw foods run the risk of transmitting parasites and bacteria to your ferret that they are not used to or immune to like their wild cousins would be, and also runs a risk of getting you or your other pets or family members sick as well.
The best ferret food, such as Marshalls or Wysong or another store brand, will contain all of the protein, fat, and nutrients that your ferrets need, without needing to get your hands dirty.
Can Ferrets Have Cat Or Dog Food?
In a pinch, ferrets can have cat food, though the best ferret food substitute will be a high quality kitten food that has similar levels of fat and protein as ferret foods. However, like ferret food, not all cat food is created equally, so it is important to examine the nutrition contents of any kitten food you are giving to your ferrets.
Dog food is not a suitable choice for a ferret food substitute, as dog food does not have enough protein and fat needed in the best ferret diet, and is also too high in fiber and starch.
It is important to know that while dog and cat food is generally more convenient and cheaper than ferret food, a ferret that is fed these substandard diets compared to their needs will simply not thrive and in extreme cases, will be so malnourished that severe illness and death will occur.
Check out our Can Ferrets Eat Cat Food article to find the top brands of cat food your ferret can eat.
Should Ferrets Have ‘People Food’?
As many ferret owners know, there is a certain foods that their furry children want to share, be that fruits or vegetables, cheese and dairy, chocolate or peanut butter, or meat and eggs. The best ferret food will be well balanced enough to provide for any nutritional needs, though some of these items can be used as occasional treats and some should be avoided.
As discussed before, the best ferret food will be low in plant matter, as ferrets generally are unable to digest fiber and starch, and therefore fruits and vegetables should be avoided as treats. Additionally, fruits and vegetables also are dangerous for ferrets as they can cause intestinal blockages.
Cheese and dairy can cause diarrhoea in ferrets, and should be avoided as well. While some ferrets go crazy for sweets such as peanut butter and chocolate, they are too high in sugar and can cause spleen problems in ferrets.
Cooked, unseasoned scrambled eggs and meat can be used as a treat during litter box training or to reward other good behaviors. You can also find ferret specific treats that can be used as well. In any case, treats should make up no more than 10% of your ferrets total diet.
As with any animal parent, it can worrisome and even stressful when trying to find the most suitable ferret food for your fuzzy children. Thankfully, with these tips and suggestions, it is easier to find the best ferret diet, and your breeder, pet store associate, and veterinarian may have additional ideas about the best ferret food to ensure your ferret has a long, healthy, and well fed life.