What's the Best Diet for Your Ferret and Why

Finding a diet your ferret likes and one that you can count on to provide all the good nutrition you know he needs is sometimes a challenge. Ferret nutritionists observe the best results when ferrets are kept on the same premium balanced nutrition and not switched from brand to brand. Here is information about the importance of feeding your ferret a diet that will provide him with the excellent nutrition he needs for a healthy life. A diet specially formulated for him.

Very special nutrition needs

Ferrets are obligate carnivores which is a fancy name for “must eat meat.” They require certain amino acids found only in animal protein. Cats are also obligate carnivores, but have much different nutrition needs from ferrets. Dogs are omnivores which mean they eat both meat and plant products, much like us humans.

Here’s why

  1. A ferret has a very short intestinal transit time which means food passes through a ferret’s gut or digestive system quickly, usually around 3 hours, as compared to 5-6 hours for a cat.
  2. To make up for the short digestion time, a ferret’s food must be HIGHLY concentrated and digestible (85%-90%) so all the nutrients are absorbed quickly.
  3. The diet also must be high in animal protein and animal fat, sources of essential amino acids and fatty acids your ferret needs to help maintain a healthy immune system, as well as a healthy, shiny coat.
  4. The meat and egg sources should be high quality – real chicken and real egg. High levels of chicken by-products may not contain enough nutrients for your ferret’s good nutrition.
  5. Your ferret needs 15%-20% fat from animal sources to fuel his high-energy needs. Make sure the fat source in the diet is from animals, not vegetables. Most grocery store cat food has 8% to 10% fat, not nearly enough for a ferret.
  6. Your ferret’s food must also be low in fiber, called insoluble carbohydrates, because fiber is digested too slowly for the ferret to receive much benefit from it. The maximum recommended level of fiber in ferret diets is 3% and the less the better. Most grocery store cat foods list ground yellow corn as the first ingredient and usually have too high a level of fiber for ferrets.

Words of wisdom

  1. Please do not feed your ferret dog or cat food. Studies show a ferret fed unsupplemented dog food will become ill and die sometimes in a matter of weeks. Over time, feeding grocery store cat food can also result your ferret’s failure to thrive and can cause major health problems.
  2. Although “duck soup” can be just the thing for ferrets that are off-their-food or recovering from surgery, it is difficult to make sure it is nutritionally balanced. Over time, homemade diets may not be providing everything your ferret needs.
  3. Ferrets need to eat small amounts of food often. Ferrets that are given free run of a house often hide stashes of food. Frequently, pet owners are awakened at night by the crunching sound of their ferret enjoying a midnight snack.
  4. Just like us, ferrets sometimes like to eat snacks that provide little nutritional benefit. Limit the amount of high-sugar or high-fiber treats such as raisins, and other fruits and vegetables to no more than 20% of their total diet per day.

Read ingredients labels on commercial diets

Read the first six ingredients on any commercial ferret food bag. At least four of these ingredients should be chicken, chicken meal, chicken fat and another animal protein source like egg. If grain ingredients such as corn, wheat or rice are listed, check the guaranteed analysis for fiber and make sure it is less than 3%. Some grain products are necessary to “hold together” the other ingredients during the manufacturing of the extruded nuggets.

"My ferret is picky.”

ZuPreem understands that ferrets can be extremely picky eaters. That’s why ZuPreem® Premium Ferret Diets have an irresistible taste ferrets love.