FERRET DIET RECOMMENDATIONS:
Ferrets are strict carnivores and require a meat based diet. The incidence of ferrets with inflammatory bowel disease and insulinoma is much higher in the United States than in many other countries. It appears that feeding a grain-containing kibble diet puts ferrets at risk of developing these diseases while feeding a diet based on whole prey (e.g., frozen thawed rats, mice, rabbits, or quail) or a frozen nutritionally balanced meat diet will reduce the risk. Additionally, feeding whole prey diets seems to be beneficial for maintaining healthy teeth by reducing the build-up of plaque and tartar.
For those who do not like the idea of feeding whole prey diets, there area few kibble diets that are made without grains added. We highly recommend the Wysong ferret diets. Wysong is a freeze dried, grain-free, kibble diet. Freeze drying (versus cooking) preserves many of the nutritional aspect of a raw diet with a decreased risk of exposing your family and pet to disease causing bacteria such as salmonella. It comes in two varieties, Wsong Epogen 90 and Wysong Digestive Support, both are available in our store area. Alternative recommendations to Wysong include Pretty Pet's Natural Gold and Evo's Ferret Diet.
There has been some controversy recently about diets that include pea flour and duck meat in their formulations and the role they play in the formation of cysteine bladder stones. It is believed that some ferrets may be genetically predisposed to not process cysteine properly and in those specific animals high cysteine diets should be avoided. Because ferrets with this disorder will often pass cysteine crystals in their urine, a simple urine test can be valuable in determining if a ferret may be at risk.
It is very important to transition slowly when switching to a high protein diet to help avoid problems such as diarrhea. If you are switching to Wysong from another brand of ferret food we recommend starting with the Digestive Support variety. Slowly introduce the food over 1-2 weeks by gradually increasing the proportion of the new diet each day. If your pet starts developing any signs of stomach upset (diarrhea, vomiting, etc.) give us a call.
There are a few online forums you may wish to join to learn about other homemade diets. Please be aware that not every thread is written by knowledgeable people and that you should always double-check the information found on the Internet before assuming it is true!
Foods high in carbohydrates and fibers like fruits, bananas, sugary cereals, dairy products and vegetables should be avoided. These foods can have a negative effect on their digestive system and cause health problems. Use caution when offering store bought ferret treats since many of these are high in carbohydrates. Check the label before you buy! Small pieces of cooked chicken or fish can be offered as rewards.
Dog food and cat food are NOT appropriate diets for ferrets and can cause health problems.
Since ferrets naturally eat frequent small meals, food and fresh clean water should be available at all times. Most ferrets drink readily from water bottles and all ferrets seem to enjoy splashing in water bowls.