When I first got my ferret, I had no idea what to feed him, there were different opinions floating all around the community!
One person says that "RAW DIET IS THE BEST" and the another says "RAW DIET IS UNHEALTHY" and so on...
I had no idea what I was getting myself into and bought one from Marshall. Little did I know, I was doing a huge mistake!
So how can you select the best ferret food for your furry little dooks?
Research different brands of ferret food, learn about their ingredients and decide which one is best for your ferret.
This often necessitates a whole lot of sacrifice in terms of time, and if you don't know what you are doing, you can end up with a diet your critter hates.
Fortunately, I've done all the legwork for you, so you don't have to go through this arduous task.
In this article, you'll learn what to look for when choosing the best ferret food, how to feed your ferret, foods to avoid and alternative ferret diets you can try at any time.
Top 5 Ferret Food
Last update on 2019-06-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Short Buyer Guide on How to Select the Best Ferret Food
As a new furry owner, the first question that’ll pop into your head is, “how can I choose the right food for my pet?"
It’s quite easy if you know where to look.
When choosing the diet for your ferret, you have to consider their feeding pattern. Ferrets are carnivorous animals that thrive on meat – hunting and killing their prey when in the wild. But since they are in the household now, you need to feed them something close to their natural food – which is meat-based diets.
Although they prey on smaller animals they come across in the wild, it may be too expensive and downright impractical to serve them such food. In this case, your only option is to feed them dry food, which can be stored in bulk.
Dry food that is at least 30% protein, at least 15% fat and less than 30% carbohydrates are their best food according to a research published in the Veterinary Clinic of North America.
How to Feed your Ferret
Ideally, your furry friend needs 2-4 small meals per day – but younger ones may need more frequent feeding like 5-6 times per day.
It’s worthy to note here that ferrets are notorious for hoarding excess food, which can lead to odorous smell unless discovered earlier on. So, it’s important to watch them eat (for a few minutes) and then take out the leftovers.
You can also provide your ferret an opportunity to hunt for food by hiding them in specific places so that they can exercise their natural inclination. This game play can help in reducing their boredom too.
When feeding your critter new food, make sure you introduce it gradually.
Some pet food makers do include this information in the packaging, and for what it’s worth, an abrupt change in the old food may upset your ferret’s stomach. Instead, try mixing in 10% of the new food and repeat for a few days before completely transitioning to the new food.
Another good exercise is to routinely check your ferret’s build and make changes according to weight gain – load on the fat content when your ferret gets too skinny and reduce the fat content when your ferret gains too much weight.
Here are some tips to help you feed your ferret.
Common Ferret Feeding Problems
Picky eaters/underweight ferrets
Some ferret owners claim that their pets are picky eaters. As will be explained later, in kits the problem is solved by offering a variety of foods. But if you’ve adopted an adult ferret and don’t know its preferences, you can try these tricks:
- Drizzle some warm water on some kibble.
- Puree the food and, using an eyedropper, feed it to your ferret (in the jaw socket, NEVER directly down the throat).
- Place a few drops of a veterinarian-recommended fatty-acid supplement onto the food.
- Keep experimenting with a variety of flavors and brands.
- In a pinch, try pureed, meat-based baby food. If the problem persists, see your veterinarian. The ferret may be sick or recovering from an injury. If so, you will need to give it lots of special attention to help it to gain and maintain a proper weight.
Being overweight is a relatively rare problem in ferrets because they are usually so active. They burn off their excess calories, and they are usually pretty good about eating only what they need.
Occasionally, though, it happens. Here’s what you can do:
- Leave only a small amount of food in the bowl each time.
- Encourage your ferret to exercise by playing with it for longer periods of time.
- Leave the food bowl empty for an hour or two each day.
- Monitor how much your ferret eats. If it doesn’t seem to be eating as much as usual, but still looks overweight, it may have an intestinal blockage or another illness.
Baby ferrets are a special case. Ferret kits generally are weaned when they are one and a half to two months old. At that point, they may be given water with just a small amount of very soft ferret food. (The consistency is usually compared to pea soup.)
Kits need a lot of water to avoid a swollen stomach, which could lead to constipation and a prolapsed rectum (a condition that often requires surgery). (By the way, offer your kit a variety of ferret-friendly foods. The various tastes will help avoid the problem of “picky eaters.”) Over the next several weeks, the “pea soup”-like food is gradually thickened until at last, at about three months of age, the kit is eating dry food. However, be sure to monitor its water intake to be sure the kit is drinking enough.
What To Look For In Your Ferret’s Diet?
You have to watch out for fillers like corn, soy, grains that some brands use in their products to boost the protein content. While a little of these ingredients is not bad in your ferret’s food, it’s better to go for a raw diet that will keep your ferret healthy.
When selecting food for your critter, make sure it is one that is easily digestible.
Ferrets have a short digestive tract which can be clogged when the proper diet is not supplied, hence, why their nutritional needs are quite varied and their dietary requirements stricter than other pets.
Last and very important since your ferret needs little or no carbohydrates, fillers like fish-meal, corn, soy, should be minimized or avoided in the diet. And don’t feed your pet fiber from vegetable and fruits since this can cause digestive issues for her. Your ferret survives on a strict carnivores diet in the wild, so keep them on meat-based pet food (especially those high in protein and fat if your furry is skinny) to keep her healthy.
Alternative Food For Your Ferrets
Cat Food – Cat food should be a last resort when you don't have access to ferret food or can't afford the best ferret food for your furry friend. If you are going to feed your pet with cat food, the best one is kitten food and supplementing that with treats is particularly effective.
Also, go for premium cat kibble where the fat level is above 15%, the protein level is around 30%, and the ingredients include meat and not wheat, corn or anything like that. Avoid feeding your ferret cans since the quality is usually subpar and the can stick to your ferret's teeth causing tooth decay (not decent unless you want to experiment with brushing her teeth).
Whole Prey Diets – Your furry friend needs a lot of variety in her diet to maintain overall health and to be close to their natural eating patterns. This means feeding her things whole carcasses like a rat, mice, or complete baby chicken. Unfortunately, it's illegal in some countries to feed live prey to pets.
However, some dealers do supply these inhumanely killed and frozen forms though that may require additional research. But if you don't like feeding your ferret whole prey diets, you can look into varying her meat diet and adding a few treats in between.
Raw Meat Diets – This is the closest to ferret's food in the wild. Even though it might be a little different from what nature will provide her, feeding your critter these on a daily basis is ideal. Look for kibble that has the first few ingredients as meat and ignore those that have a high percentage of wheat, grain, or corn as they do cause digestive problems in ferrets.
Remember the best food to feed your critter is one that's varied (which your ferret gets in the wild by eating an assortment of animals and carcasses).
Ask your vet for more information on this. When feeding your ferret raw meat diets, make sure these are in smaller sized chunks as this can help keep their teeth clean. And avoid fresh meat diets when shopping as they can contain dangerous sulfur preservatives, if they are bad for humans, you shouldn’t feed your pet.
Ferret Treats – It's a wise strategy to keep a good supply of treats for your ferret but make them less than 10% of her daily calorie intake. Make sure there are no vegetables and fruits in the treats and that they are only about 1 teaspoonful of carbohydrates each day.
Avoid hard vegetables like raw carrots in the treats as they can cause intestinal blockage.
You can use raw or cooked egg for treats as well as liver treats softened in hot water. Some products like ferretvite, ferretone that are touted as ferret treats should be avoided because they contain carcinogenic ingredients and might cause insulinoma in your ferret. All in all, always test and experiment with different treats and settle on what your ferret really likes.
Here's a video that summarize some of these points.
Ferret Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet
Now that you know what food to feed your ferret, it’s important to know which ones you shouldn’t.
While it’s often convenient – or even cheap – to feed your pet with foods that are designed for other pets like dogs or cats, their unique nutritional needs makes most of these foods unsuitable for her. Also, some foods look innocent and safe enough but can actually be harmful to your pet.
Here are the foods you should avoid feeding your ferret:
Fruits and vegetables – Ferret's digestive system is not as advanced as that of humans and since they are carnivores, giving them fruits or vegetable may lead to serious problems. Fruits like grapes can cause kidney failure in your ferret. Also, vegetables like onions can cause hemolytic anemia (where red blood cells are destroyed and removed from the bloodstream before their normal cycle leading to a shortage of oxygen).
Dairy-based foods – These foods are high in carbohydrates, which, unfortunately, is bad for ferrets. Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese can cause cancer or stomach upset in your critter so avoid them.
Dog food – Dogs have different dietary requirements from ferrets, and their food choice is quite wider since they are omnivorous animals. Although some dog foods contain raw meat and may be high in protein, they may not be ideal for your ferret. This is because they may be high in grains and peas, which can be dangerous for your ferret.
Sugar – This is the biggest enemy of your critter as it’s extremely high in carbohydrates. This means you have to avoid foods like cereal, syrup or honey for your ferret – because of their high sugar content. Moreover, they can drive up insulin imbalance in your critter and a possible case of hypoglycemia.
Grains – Food like corn, oats, soy, rice, wheat are rich in carbohydrates and like sugar should be avoided. When your ferret consumes a big chunk of food containing these ingredients, she may suffer from indigestion as well as bloating of intestinal track.
Young Ferret and Feeding
It’s necessary to grow your ferret on the correct diet earlier on as tend to imprint on some foods when young. This is why you’ll see some heavily imprinted ferrets starve rather than eating something healthy.
Fortunately, ferrets can be trained easily during the early stage so introducing a lot of different meat, some raw (or cooked) eggs, kitten dry foods that meet the dietary requirements of your ferret is a good idea. Also varying their flavor at this stage is ideal. Using some positive reinforcement with treats is one effective strategy to help them stay with the right food.
1. Wysong Ferret Epigen 90 Digestive Support
Although kibble is the standard food for your furry friend, you need to feed her meat-based protein diet to keep her in good shape. Don’t just aim to meet the nutritional standards but also aim at nourishing your ferret with a diet that’s designed to optimize her wellness.
The Wysong Ferret Epigen 90 can help you achieve this. This kibble diet is formulated with a starch-free formula that’s closely related to the diets ferrets are biologically wired to eat.
This dry ferret food contains significant amounts of meat with up to 60% protein and 16% fat (to optimize your critter’s wellness) as well as flax-seed, apple pectin and chicory root – which all contribute soluble fiber, giving your furry friend an ideal meal to nibble on.
It also comes with beneficial probiotics which stimulate intestinal microbial balance and production of enzymes, antibiotics, minerals, and vitamins for a boost in immune system health.
The enhanced prebiotics and soluble fiber in this ferret food also help in supporting our critter’s digestive health and stool consistency.
The Wysong Ferret Epigen 90 is produced in the USA using domestically sourced USDA and FDA-approved ingredients.
So if you are looking for a high-protein diet that can enhance your kibble’s strength or serve as a therapeutic aid for convalescences from weight gain, then try this food for your ferret. One of the best ferret food available.
2. Petcurean GO! Fit + FREE Grain, Chicken & Turkey Recipe
This recipe is prepared with a blend of premium quality proteins, essential Omega oils and meat content for a boost in your ferret’s immune system and prevention of muscle wastage.
The Petcurean Chicken Turkey Recipe is produced in Canada, where ingredients are strictly regulated, which should give you peace of mind that you are getting a safe and healthy diet for your pet.
This recipe comes with very small but hard, round pieces that are easy to eat. This means they don’t break up in the bag, leaving you a bunch of pieces to throw away. They also smell well so if you have a picky ferret, this should attract her to the food.
While the Petcurean Chicken Turkey Recipe may be a bit expensive, it covers for that in abundant nutrients that are often forgone in other inexpensive diets at the expense of your ferret’s well-being. It has some of the most important dietary benefits that your ferret needs along with a small list of questionable ingredients or drawbacks.
If you want a ferret food with fewer beets, rice or cornmeal for your ferret, try the Petcurean Chicken Turkey Recipe as you’ll be able to save in the end by having a healthy ferret diet than one that can give your health problems down the road.
3. Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Recipe Natural Dry Cat Food
Nature’s Variety Raw Boost Recipe is rich in animal protein and real meats extracted from USA-raised beef, cage-free chicken or farm-raised rabbit so your ferret can have smaller stools, cleaner teeth, and shinier coats.
The recipe comprises a healthy dose of probiotics, natural Omega oils and antioxidants for a tasty, high animal protein diet.
It is balanced with wholesome foods like vegetables and beef – for production of adequate nutrients and fiber – to keep her digestive system humming smoothly and to stay within a manageable, healthy weight.
4. Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe Natural Dry Cat Food
The Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe comes with uncooked freeze dried raw meat to help your ferret get a boost of nutrition and the needed essential fatty acids, natural enzymes.
The absence of grain in the recipe ensures your ferret is free from allergies that may irritate her digestive system. And a low carbohydrate and high protein content provide your ferret with the much needed meat-rich diet that’s a source of healthy minerals and vitamins.
The unique combination of gluten-free and high-quality freeze dried raw ingredients will put more of real nutrition of raw into every bowl so your furry friend can thrive.
5. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Cat Food
The first ingredient in the Wellness CORE Natural is deboned chicken, and it contains all the protein needed to help your ferret develop an ideal body condition and sustain lean muscles.
Since your critter only thrives on a meat-based diet, the Wellness CORE Natural diet with high concentration superior animal protein may be the right diet you've been looking for.
This nutrient-dense and grain-free diet contain all the nutrients to make sure your ferret is getting everything needed to maintain good health and well-being.
Now that you have the top 5 best ferret foods, you may still be wondering which one is the best. This can be a tough decision considering that all of them are good diets for your critter. After sifting through dozens of research data, we have trained eyes and can help you choose the best food for your ferret.
My number one pick from the list is without a doubt, the Wysong Ferret Epigen 90 Digestive Support.
My ferrets totally love this!
After switching from Marshall, he doesn't have much digestive problems and don't have any foul smells coming from him.
Another alternative you can consider is Petcurean GO! Fit + FREE Grain, Chicken & Turkey Recipe.
This Canadian-made pet kibble is passed through strict ingredient regulations as all pet products produced in Canada. The protein-rich and low carb content also mean it’s suitable for ferrets suffering from allergies and intolerance.