Ferrets are carnivores but they love dairy products.
If you have been feeding your ferret on cow’s milk, you may have noticed that they love milk.
It comes with a downside to it. Read on to know what this downside is and what you can do to avoid it.
If you have never given your ferret milk and have been wondering whether to do it or not, you are also in the right place.
If you are new to this ferret world, read on get some tips on our furry friends.
Is Milk Good for Ferrets?
Before getting into this question directly, we first need to understand what ferrets naturally feed on.
Ferrets are purely carnivorous. They thrive on high-quality meat with heavy fat. They can do without fiber, grains, sugar, and carbohydrates.
Ferrets do love dairy products, but it this doesn’t mean it is healthy for them.
In small quantities, milk is not harmful. But too much of it regularly is very bad for them because they are lactose intolerant.
Ferrets lack the enzyme lactase that is needed in breaking down complex components of milk, like sugar.
As babies, they take their mother’s milk and are weaned as they age because of the increased lactose intolerance.
Giving a ferret cow’s milk can lead to diarrhea, making it prone to dehydration.
You can opt to give your ferret reduced lactose milk or use pet’s milk as a treat.
An available alternative is soy milk.
Do not be too quick to use soy milk because it can bring difficulty in the ferret’s body in absorbing calcium from milk and other foods as well.
It is important to also note that other dairy products like chocolate could be lethal to ferrets.
Do not offer chocolate to your ferret as it could lead to sickness or, worst-case scenario, death.
What Should Ferrets eat?
They are pure carnivores meaning they primarily eat meat.
In the wild, ferrets feed on entire animals, which provides them with more nutritious value than when eating the muscle tissue alone.
This means that clean meats such as fillets may cause malnutrition.
More specifically, the daily intake of a ferret ought to be 32-36% protein and fat content of approximately 18%.
To prevent infections on the urinary tract of the ferret, it is advisable to also give them taurine supplements.
Occasionally, give the ferret a whole mouse or a chick. A ferret should get raw instead of cooked meat.
Don’t feed dog or cat food to your Ferret!
Wild ferrets do not face diets rich in carbohydrates or sugar-based, so refrain from such in an attempt to increase your ferret’s appetite.
Nutritional elements in commercial dog and cat foods are very different from what ferrets need.
They have a lot of vegetable content as well as high grain even though ferrets require these only in low quantities.
This small need for vegetables and grain in their diet is usually met by eating the stomach contents of their prey, as they primarily feed on herbivores.
Ferrets do not eat vegetables and grain directly.
Ferrets do not require a water bottle.
Use a water bowl instead. Water bottles can harm their teeth as they try to suck on as well as they are unsanitary.
A water bowl will help the ferret enjoy playing with the water, and they keep clean in the process.
They also metabolize quickly; this means that they need to eat every four hours.
Ferrets do not over-feed as they only eat what they need at a time
Leaving food and water for them when you are away should not be a cause for worry.
Are Ferrets Finicky Eaters?
During their first year, they need to familiarize themselves with a variety of foods.
They imprint on their meals, so various meats and kibble would be fine for them.
Do not feed them junk food during this critical stage of their lives. It causes them to imprint on unhealthy foods.
Unsuitable foods may cause your ferret to get sick, and this will make it to stop eating. This is very harmful to them as there is no going back.
Ferrets are quite picky about their diets, especially on what they were accustomed to in their first year.
Ensure that they eat healthy food, according to their nutritional requirements for them to be healthy.
What if my Ferret drinks milk by accident?
No cause for alarm here.
As long as it is eating healthy regularly and taking water from its water bowl, it should be fine.
The main thing is to ensure that you do not feed it with milk as a regular part of its diet.
Better still, refrain from giving it milk completely.
There is a special meal called duck soup. Here are its most common ingredients:
This is the only place you can use milk in.
As long as you know the rules, ferrets are quite easy to take care of.
Choosing the Correct Food for Your Ferret
If you want to have a ferret as a pet, then you have to be aware of its nutritional needs.
You will have to read the labels on the food that you plan to feed to your pet ferret.
Ferrets have distinctive dietary needs. The dry food that you intend to give it must match their specialized requirements.
Some owners feed their ferrets cat food, but these weren’t created, specifically for ferrets in mind.
Some packaged food is supposedly for ferrets but is merely modified cat chows.
If the food says “good for ferrets,” it does not necessarily mean it fills the dietary needs.
Read the Labels
You will need to practice reading labels to choose the right food for your ferret. It will make a difference in behavior, health, and lifespan.
Ferrets have a fast metabolism and have a three-hour digestive turnaround. The food must be high in quality, easy to digest and absorb, and in a short amount of time.
Ferrets need a high content of protein in their diet. 32%-38% protein per meal is the amount needed.
Primary and Secondary Source
Ferrets have difficulty digesting proteins coming from cereal and vegetables since they don’t have the amino acids needed for ferrets.
Cereals and vegetables take four to six hours to digest. So they aren’t absorbed in the ferret’s body due to the three-our digestive turnaround.
The best and primary protein source for your ferret should be meat (poultry or chicken meat will suffice).
A secondary protein source is whole eggs, fish, and liver meals.
Refrain from feeding your ferret beef products, since it is known to be hard to digest.
Lamb meat and its byproducts are a good alternative for ferrets that are allergic to poultry.
Poultry meat has the complete amino acids that ferrets need. Beef has less and fish even lesser.
For a typical meal, it is advised to feed your ferret more than one protein source. An example is chicken meat as the primary source and fish as the secondary source.
Avoid Giving Vegetables or Vegetable-Based Food
Ferrets are carnivores and should eat meat-based food, not cereal or vegetable-based food.
Soybeans or cereal grains like rice, barley, rye, oats, corn or wheat, should not be fed to your ferret.
Your Ferret’s Fat Requirement
Ferrets need high-fat content in their diet (18%-22%), which provides them with energy and allows them to absorb and digest proteins.
Fat is an energy source that provides vitamins A, D, E, and K. Poultry or chicken fat is a worthy addition to your ferret’s diet.
Other good alternatives are fish and flax oil, which is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acid. It helps with your ferret’s allergies, arthritis, heart disease, itchy skin, and renal failure.
A drawback is the fish oil might have an offensive odor and be unpalatable to ferrets.
Don’t feed beef tallow or the fat from red meat to your ferret. It will contribute to renal disease.
Vegetable fats like corn oil, vegetable oil, etc. are considered undesirable and should not be included in your ferret’s diet.
Fatty acids, especially linoleic acid, are optimal for your ferret’s skin and furry coat.
The ferret’s diet should not have a too high content of fat, or ferrets would eat less. Thus, it would have fewer vitamins, minerals, and protein.
Ferrets love the taste of sweetness, and it is in the form of complex carbohydrates.
Ferrets don’t have the right amount of intestinal flora to break down complex carbohydrates, so these should be avoided in your ferret’s diet.
Don’t feed your ferret any foodstuff that has sugar in it.
It doesn’t have the large intestine to process fiber, so a 3% low fiber content or less in your ferret’s diet can be acceptable.
It further eliminates all dog foods and cat food in the market as part of your ferret’s diet.
The best source of fiber for your ferret is meat fiber.
Beet pulp is also acceptable because it has ingredients that suppress the growth of bad bacteria, like E. coli and salmonella.
Your ferret’s diet would be useless without an adequate water supply, so keep a constant supply at all times.