Thursday, January 12, 2012
Feeding Your Ferret
There are several views on what a ferret should be fed. Raw vs. Processed. Both have their merits in the well-being of your ferret it comes down to how you feel about feeding your ferret unprocessed, uncooked, and/or live meat. Or just being able to pour the food out of a bag.
I personally don’t have the time or the finances to feed Manny and Marcuz a raw diet so they get most of their food out of bag but I do supplement it with treats of chicken liver offered both raw and boiled. The verdict is still out on which way is preferred.
There are many articles online about feeding your ferret a raw diet but do your research carefully and ask a lot of questions before you decide this is the best diet for your ferret.
Even with feeding a processed bagged food there are many things you need to know.
1. A ferret’s digestive process takes 2-3 hours from mouth to elimination.
2. Ferrets need quick digestible protein.
3. Ferrets need high levels of fat
4. Ferrets don’t have a Cecum so they can’t process plants
You need to learn how to read the food labels on bags of ferret food to get them the best one for their needs. Pet food labels are regulated by two agencies in the United States.
The federal regulations are enforced by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
“The FDA established standards applicable for all animal feeds, including but not limited to the proper identification, the proper listing of ingredients.”(2)
“The AAFCO are more specific in that they cover the labeling name of a product, the guaranteed analysis, feeding directions.” (3)
Start with the ingredients the first two should be meat based. Often this is chicken meal, chicken digest, and/or chicken fat. These seem like a great start until you learn that chicken meal is “rendered from mammal tissues which could also contain parts of the animal you wouldn’t think of as meat. “ (1)
Chicken digest basically is stock. Like you use to create some soups, dressings, gravies. It gives the food some flavor but doesn’t have any chicken. Chicken fat is self-explanatory.
With ferret food chicken or any fowl is a good start and won’t often lead to a heavier musky scent like foods that have herring or any fish as the main ingredient.
Another ingredient to look for is Brewers’ yeast. This natural supplement is added to most processed ferret foods and because of its blood sugar lowering properties could be problematic to a ferret with Insulinoma (4)
Learning about what goes into your ferret’s food will help you pick the best diet for them and it will help them to live longer and healthier lives.
(1) Ingredient list 3rd par
(2) FDA 1st par
(3) AFFCO 1st par
(4) Brewers’ Yeast
Have a Chittering Good Day,