Ferrets eat often. And not too long ago, it was perfectly acceptable to feed your ferret a bowl of cat food. But pet food manufacturers now understand your pet’s unique diet requirements, i.e. high protein, low carb, and higher fat than dog and cat food.
But with the numerous specialized options that are now available comes another problem – choosing the one that’s just right. You need the best food that your budget can buy and that will ensure your little guy stays in optimal health.
There isn’t a single one-size-fits-all solution. Different ferrets will have different preferences, and it’s up to you to make the choice. Your pet is depending on you for this. So check out some of the best food on the market to help you decide which one is perfect for you and your ferret.
8 Food Options That Your Ferret Will Love
- 8 Food Options That Your Ferret Will Love
- Basic Diet Requirements
- Can Ferrets Eat Cat Food?
- Ferret Treats
Wysong is a name that’s been in the pet food industry for quite a while - since 1979. Their digestive support food for ferrets is a specialized blend of 62% protein and 16% fat. The formula also includes prebiotics, enzymes, and antioxidants to keep your ferret healthy.
Furthermore, there’s no starch in the formula. So you don’t get a lot of extras that your pet can’t digest.
The Epigen 90 Digestive Support formula also tastes good to ferrets. Although you can’t introduce it to their diets right away or they might get sick. This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker as it’s just a standard disclaimer issued by all pet food manufacturers.
Gradually introducing this food into your pet’s diet can help improve your ferret’s overall health. And it may also help control their smell.
Due to the company’s decades of experience, many shelters and ferret experts favor ZuPreem’s food. This chicken and egg formula is a healthy ratio of 40% protein and 20% fat. Specially formulated for your ferret’s needs, you don’t need additional supplements with ZuPreem Premium.
The company has also taken other measures to ensure the quality of their product. This includes using fresh chicken in the formula rather than the frozen variety and avoiding fishmeal and corn.
Unfortunately, this formula doesn’t help with ferret and stool odor. But it can help unclog your pet’s finicky digestive system. And may also give him a shinier coat in the process.
The Wysong Archetype formula is a raw food type that may be perfect for your ferret. The food differs from your typical dry pellet ferret fare.
This formula contains chunks and shreds of freeze-dried raw food that you can rehydrate with water before serving. The food is never heated above 118 degrees to maintain the food’s nutrient integrity.
You can use the chunks as a reward or a meal in itself. Furthermore, mix the shreds and powder as a great topping for dry or canned food. Or use it as a nutritious topping for your own homemade ferret meals.
Mazuri boasts a high energy formula for your fuzzy’s nutritional needs. With it, you get a solid amount of protein and fats to keep your furry friend going.
On the other hand, the formula is not without by-products and fillers. Not all ferrets will mind this, but some might. However, a great way to circumvent this potential issue is to mix it with other dry kibble options. This is something numerous Mazuri users have been doing to great effect. Many ferret owners prefer blends as they allow them to combine the benefits of several products, and Complete Nutrition can perform really well in this role.
As a bonus, even picky ferrets appear to like the taste.
One of the best things about Kaytee’s Premium Ferret Food is that it doesn’t contain grains or fillers. It’s too easy for manufacturers to stuff fillers into their formulas. But that can make your little carnivore sick.
Instead, Kaytee’s formula for premium food contains 43% protein and 20% fat from natural sources. However, this formula says it contains chicken but the top ingredients on the package are chicken meal and chicken by-products. Some picky owners may balk at giving their ferrets food that contains pea flour as a major ingredient because ferrets can’t digest vegetables. However, some amount of starch is needed to bind dry pet food pellets together.
This adult ferret food by Sheppard and Greene is full of chicken flavor. Unfortunately, it also contains some corn filler and rice. So it may lower the odor coming from the litter box, but you should keep a close eye on your pet to make sure all the ingredients sit well with your furry pal. Although, this holds true whenever you switch to any new brand.
Smaller pieces may make it easier for a ferret to chew. Especially if you are worried about choking hazards. However, the protein ratio is a little low at only 36% with 20% fat, but it still meets minimum requirements for a proper ferret diet.
If you find that your ferret can’t get enough, you may want to mix it with something more nutritious to make sure he gets a balanced diet.
Marshall is one of the more popular ferret food choices for new owners. Although it’s a little low on protein and fat content compared to other brands at only 38% with 18% fat, this brand may be relatively easier to find at local stores.
In addition, the first 2 main ingredients are chicken and chicken by-products from organs. So that’s a good sign as far as nutrition goes.
But it also contains corn meal as a top ingredient. Because your ferret is a carnivore, formulas with fruits, grains, and vegetables may be hard on your pet’s digestion.
However, if you bought a Marshall-bred ferret, you may need to feed him their food or you risk invalidating the warranty. If that’s the case, you may want to mix something healthier with this food. Or put a healthier option into his food rotation.
Your furry pal may find Kaytee Forti Diet Pro’s small and colorful shapes easier to chew than other cylinder shapes on the market.
One of the best things about this formula is that it is corn-free with added probiotics and prebiotics. It also has natural antioxidants for added health and immune support.
Unfortunately, no formula is perfect. The first 2 main ingredients are meat derivatives. But the food also contains rice, soybean meal, and ground wheat.
These grains may be hard for your pet to digest. It also contains sugar which is never a good idea for your pet to eat regularly.
Basic Diet Requirements
Ferrets are obligate carnivores. This means that meat has to be a part of their main diet for them to survive and thrive.
They also can’t process nutrients from plant matter. So that means feeding them fruits and veggies are a no-no unless you want your furry pal to have an upset stomach.
Ferrets need a lot of protein in their diet. Look for food that contains at least 30% to 40% animal-based protein. Yes, ferrets can also digest plant-based protein as they’re all amino acids all the same, but the use of plants will include fiber which ferrets can’t digest.
In addition, a healthy ferret diet needs to be high in fat. Look for food that contains at least 20% fat. But you can go as high as 30% fat for a ferret-healthy diet.
Carbohydrates are another no-go when it comes to ferret food. But dry food needs carbs to bind together, so look for formulas that are very low in carbs and fiber. No more than 3% fiber for optimal digestion health.
Can Ferrets Eat Cat Food?
Yes, ferrets can eat cat food. And for years, it was perfectly acceptable to feed your ferret cat food. They’re both obligate carnivores, so it may have made sense to use that type of food.
But times are changing as manufacturers are understanding more about ferret health requirements. So if you insist on feeding cat food to your pet, only a specific type of cat food will do for ferret health.
If you are in a bind and need to feed your ferret cat food, look for premium brands that are high in protein and fat. However, check the labels carefully. Make sure that it contains minimal amounts of grains, sugar, and fiber.
Furthermore, you can use kitten food until your ferret is approximately 4 years old. Afterward, it would be a good idea to switch him to adult cat food.
Why is kitten food a good idea? Kitten formulas contain more protein and fatty acids than adult food formulas. So your ferret may receive similar nutritional benefits as eating food made for ferrets.
Additionally, if you’re given a choice between an unhealthy ferret food formula and premium cat food, you may want to go with cat food. At least until you find a better alternative. Your ferret’s health is important, so there’s no reason to get hung up on labels.
What do you give your ferret for treats? You can find some that have extra vitamins to supplement your pet’s diet or help with hairballs. They also make good training aids when used in moderation.
Treat ideas may include:
- Eggs – scrambled or hard boiled
- Small pieces of cooked meat
- Liver treats, freeze-dried
Lastly, check the labels of commercial treats carefully before offering them to your beloved pet. Like daily meals, watch out for ones that have sugars, vegetables, and grains.
And no matter how cute your ferret looks, don’t give into his sweet tooth. This includes dried fruit like raisins and fresh fruit. He’ll thank you for it later.
As a last resort, you can feed your fuzzy pal some cat treats. But avoid dog treats since they may contain ingredients that may be harmful to a ferret’s delicate digestive system.
Everyone wants the best for their pets. But that is sometimes easier said than done.
For example, you may have several food options, and no single brand will be optimal on its own. Or, you may need to keep trying new formulas until you find one your picky ferret enjoys.
Lastly, another option may be to mix ferret food with premium cat food. It may cost a little more, but you also may be able to offset the potential side effects or nutritional deficiencies with another type of food.
Ultimately, though, it really depends on your fuzzy friend. All ferrets are different with unique personalities. So you may have to mix and match to find the best solution for you and your pet.
Patrice has been an animal lover, right from her childhood. She’s currently enjoying the company of her cat, dog, aquarium fishes, and a few small furry companions.