Many of our domestic species are prone to developing dental disease. In some cases this is due to unfortunate genetics but in many instances diet plays an important role.
There are a number of things we can do to improve the dental health of our furry ferret friends.
Ferrets are carnivorous hunters. They were bred to hunt and would ideally subsist on a diet made up entirely of whole prey such as small mammals. Their teeth are sharp and designed for cutting small bones and tearing at meat. They have no molars, like herbivores, so are not designed for grinding hard food or grains.
Raw meaty bones
An ideal ferret diet is whole prey items such as baby chicks and mice. These tasty morsels are easily obtained from a pet shop that stocks reptile supplies. If you can’t stomach whole animals, make sure you feed your ferret golf ball sized pieces of meat twice daily.
You can use chicken necks or wings but ensure they are raw not cooked. Avoid mince and leave all meat pieces large enough that they must be chewed and cannot be swallowed whole.
Ferrets can wear down their tiny teeth by constantly crunching hard biscuits meant for other species. High carbohydrate processed foods also accelerate dental decay and lead to tooth loss.
For those who cannot provide a Balanced Raw Diet, good quality kitten biscuits are small enough to not require too much chewing but check the label and ensure that they are predominantly meat-based rather than containing cereal protein such as corn or soy. Some owners will mix a handful of Hills Science Diet t/d in with their ferrets dry food.
Your ferret should be visiting the Veterinarian at least annually for vaccination and ideally every 6 months. This is a great chance to discuss dental care. If your ferret is starting to get dental disease, correction of diet may prevent further damage.
Your Vet may also recommend a dental clean under general anaesthesia. Ferrets are surprisingly robust when it comes to anaesthesia, despite their small size and a dental clean can significantly improve overall health.