Thursday, March 18, 2010

Feeding the Ferret: The Good

     Trying to find the right food to feed your ferret can be overwhelming. Knowing what they need to have nutritionally helps in the decision making process.

Fact: It takes about three hours for food to travel through a ferret’s digestive tract.

     This short time span for digestion means that a ferret needs to have a protein source that breaks down quickly along with a high fat content to meet their body’s needs.

     Ferrets are carnivores meaning that they are meat eaters and should be fed foods that are high in animal proteins and fats. Reading labels will help you to decide what food is best for your ferret.

     While a ferret can eat cat food this isn’t a good choice as most cat/kitten chow is formulated from corn meal or some other corn by product.

     The first ingredient of specially formulated ferret food should be some kind of animal protein such as chicken or turkey. To help less the musky odor of a ferret foods that have fish or herring meal should be avoided.

     One the package should be a mandated chart by the American Animal Feed Control Office (AAFCO) that has the percentages of crude protein, fat, fiber, and moisture.

     Crude Protein estimates the total protein content in foods designed for animals. This includes true proteins and other nitrogen containing substances such as amino acids and nitrates.

     These act as both an energy source and tissue builder. Crude Protein should not be less that 40% the higher the percentage the better.

     Crude Fat includes all the fat in the diet from plant to animal sources. While the plant source may be good for cats and dogs. Ferrets need mainly animal fat sources. Crude Fat should not be less than 20%.

     Crude Fiber is a rough indicator of energy level and crude fiber for ferrets should not exceed 2%.

     Moisture is how much water or liquid is in the food. In ferret food it should not be greater than 10%.

     These numbers are based on commercially produced foods that can come in canned or dry forms. There is a growing trend of feeding a ferret a more natural or raw diet.

     While the Guaranteed Analysis in many cases is higher one must realize that a raw diet can be open to problems that most commercially produced foods aren’t affected by. These can include the food spoiling quickly to harmful bacterial growth.

     Ferret food can be expensive. A 4 pound bag can cost anywhere from 9 to 22 dollars. This varies from brand to brand and store to store.

     Some brands are made in a single shape or pellet and others have several shapes to challenge a ferret’s inquisitive nature. Some ferrets will eat the same brand all the time and others will eat several because of their finicky nature.

     James and Lance like Zupreem® the best of all the brands I have offered them but it has to be mixed with 9lives Growing Years ® Kitten food for 0-3 years. It gives them several shapes to pick up and eat. Lance eats his food in a very distinct pattern of shapes.

     The second part of this series will be the bad foods. This covers what treats are considered bad for a ferret and the reasons why. Along with what human foods can be given but are not necessarily a good thing to allow.

     What do you consider a treat for your pet? What human foods would you allow your pet to eat and why?

     All comments, answers, and links to other blogs are welcomed and encouraged.



Your Daily Cute said...

3 hours for food to travel through a ferret?! Wow. Makes me wonder what it is for cats... I've never even thought about it.

Jo said...

YDC it is amazing what you can find out from the internet and asking your vet.