Whilst Ferrets can be fussy eaters as adults, the food habits they learn as kits will stay with them for life. We’ve assembled a list of 9 foods you should avoid feeding your ferret to ensure they remain happy and healthy.
Dog food or adult cat food
While it is certainly convenient and cheap to feed your ferret food designed for other species, they do have unique nutritional needs.
Ferrets are true carnivores and are not built to digest fibre. They need lots of meat protein and fat. Ensure that the food you feed has meat as the primary ingredient. Kitten food is higher in protein and fat than dog and adult cat food and is the only non-ferret diet that is “recommended” to those who cannot provide a balanced raw diet.
If you are looking for further advice on the optimum diet and nutrition for your Ferret check out our article on Ferret Food: A Recipe for Success.
Just like dogs and cats, cooked bones should never be fed to ferrets. They are perfectly capable of digesting small raw bones, but the cooking process makes the bones hard and indigestible and prone to forming sharp fragments which can damage your ferrets digestive system.
Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables should not be fed to ferrets as it is believed the high carbohydrate levels predispose them to insulinoma. Like humans, ferrets can grow to love sweet treats that are high in carbohydrates, so be sure you remain firm on avoiding special treats are fed to your ferret.
A perfect treat is a small amount of scrambled egg or some cooked or raw meat. In particular avoid hard raw vegetables such as carrots, which can form intestinal obstructions.
Bread or Grains
Avoid feeding your ferret bread, grains and seeds or any cakes, biscuits or treats made for humans.
Sugar free things containing xylitol
Anything that contains xylitol and is ‘sugar free’ can be toxic to dogs, cats and ferrets. Chewable vitamins, gum and toothpaste all contain xylitol and can be tempting to these adventurous little creatures so be sure to keep them well out of reach.
Chocolate and caffeine
Both can be toxic to ferrets as well as dogs and cats. Best to keep these items in a ferret proof part of your home.
Grapes are also toxic to dogs, cats and ferrets and excess consumption will cause kidney failure. The true toxic dose is not known, so is best to avoid feeding grapes to your ferret at all.
Your ferret may love ice-cream, milk and cheese but these should be avoided. Ferrets are carnivores and are supposed to eat meat protein, they are not designed to process dairy proteins.
In particular, Ferrets lack the enzyme required to digest lactose, a little like lactose intolerant humans. The risk is some messy diarrhoea and possibly dehydration and a visit to the Vet. Small amounts may appear to be fine, but why risk feed your ferret something that has the potential to cause intestinal upset.
Generally ferrets are very inquisitive creatures and should always be supervised when playing. Keep an eye on what they are up to, as they are prone to chewing furniture and plants.
There are many species of house plants that can be toxic to our pets, so if you see anything with chew marks, consult you local veterinarian for advice. This list of plants that are known to be toxic to ferrets can be useful, however, the list does not cover all plants in all geographic regions so in most cases it is best to consult your local veterinarian anyway.