“To be or not to be, that is the question.” While Shakespeare wrote this ages ago, many of my friends find themselves trapped in similar dilemmas especially when choosing food for their ferret. Questions like “Should I feed my ferret an apple?” or statements like “I enjoy eating apples, so will my ferret!” are too common these days.
Don't give your ferrets any apples. To answer this riddle once and for all, I decided to sit down and write why apples are not fit for your ferret.
Why You Should Avoid Feeding an Apple to Your Ferret
Ferrets Are Obligate Carnivore
The age-old phrase that "an apple a day keeps a doctor away" may apply to you but not to your ferret. Being true carnivores, your fuzzy little friend needs a strictly meat-based diet to survive.
Ferrets neither have the digestive organs nor the specific enzymes essential for digesting the fiber found in apples. As ferrets are carnivores, they do not need nutrient-rich fruits such as apples. Eating meat and everything else that comes out of an animal such as its bones and organs is enough to sustain these carnivores.
Sugar in the Apple Can Damage Your Ferret’s Pancreas
While your friend will like fruits containing sugar, they are harmful for its health. Apples contain fructose which is a sugar. Increased levels of sugar can damage the pancreas of a ferret by forming little tumors inside it. These tumors then form a cancer which is fatal for ferrets and is notorious for taking their lives.
Apples Can Lead to Intestinal Blockage
Hard fruits such as apples are harmful for the intestines of a ferret. Apple accumulates in the intestines of ferrets, blocking them partially or completely. Such blockages can make your ferret sick by keeping its stomach upset. It is best to stick to meat and not give your loving friend something which its intestines can’t handle. Therefore, avoid giving apples to your ferret.
Obstruction in the Bowels
The intestines of ferrets are too delicate for apples. Usually, apple peels get stuck in their digestive tracts, causing various problems. One such problem is when the apple peel causes obstruction in the bowels.
This can be very painful for your pet and can even put its life in danger. Hence, avoid feeding vegetables or fruits like apples which have peels that can harm your ferret’s digestive system.
Apples Take a Long Time to Digest
Ferrets need small portions of food but at regular intervals. Their digestive tract is short, so they need food which they can digest in a short span of time. However, food items like apples usually take a while to digest, rendering them unfavorable for a ferret.
When consumed, apples can lead to digestive problems, undermining the health of your pet. Hence, they are a big no for a ferret.
Healthy Foods That Ferrets Enjoy Eating
Apples are a great source of nutrients, but given the nature of their digestive system, ferrets should not consume apples. This does not mean that your pet needs to have bland food for its meal each day. In fact, there are several options out there to choose from which are both delicious and healthy for your tiny, little friend. Below is a list of tasty food alternatives to add variety to your ferret’s diet:
You can add whole prey animals to your ferret’s diet both as a treat and as a food alternative. Pre-killed as well as frozen whole prey are easily available. Prey can include rodents such as mice and rats. Small chicks also make excellent whole prey for your pet. Keep in mind that ferrets keep an imprint of their food, so add new food items gradually to their diet.
For carnivores such as your ferret, meat is the best option. Ferrets need a high amount of protein and a significant number of calories in their diet. You can choose either cooked or raw meat, depending on what your ferret enjoys most. Options of meat range from chicken to turkey. Beef and lamb are also great when it comes to adding variety to the kind of meat you feed to your ferret.
Eggs are some of the most popular treats for ferrets, but it is the boiled egg which ferrets like best. Either give a fresh, raw egg to your little friend, or boil one for it. Keep in mind that ferrets have a tendency toward overeating. Since eggs are their favorite snack, do keep track of the rate at which they consume them. Even scrambled eggs can make a ferret’s day, so don’t miss out on that.
Fish are actually not part of a ferret's natural diet and neither should you try to make it. However, ferrets do enjoy food rich in proteins. To that end, try adding sardines to their diet. Do keep in mind that fish with skeleton is not recommended for a ferret. Sardines are the only fish which are an exception, so go for them and see if your pet likes them.
When taken in small amounts, coconut oil is extremely beneficial for your ferret’s health. It can act as a laxative to relieve your ferret of constipation. You can feed it a half teaspoonful of coconut oil each day. Some ferrets are said to be allergic to oil, so carefully look for any signs of allergic reactions when giving oil to your pet.
As you can see, there are myriads of foods which you can give to your little friend beside an apple. Remember, the health of your ferret comes before its craving for foods containing sugar and fiber. While it may like the taste of an apple, the fruit can cause several problems for a ferret, even endangering its life at times. Therefore, it is best not to feed an apple to your pet and instead go for meatier alternatives.