What seems to be healthy and good food for us humans might not be as good to ferrets. Their diet is special because their system is only designed to digest plainly meat so we should know which foods can we give them, and which should be avoided.
Can ferrets eat fruits and vegetables? No. Ferrets do not have the capacity to digest food containing complex carbohydrates, fiber, sugar or dairy based. They need a high quantity of protein and fat to survive so to keep them safe and healthy, feed them with high quality of meat products.
Feeding them the wrong choice of foods might be harmful to them as it may cause them some diseases like an intestinal failure or even cancer.
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Why Can’t I Feed Them Fruits And Vegetables?
Ferrets do not possess a “cecum,” the blind pouch at the beginning of the large intestine into which the small intestine opens. This gland or part is responsible for producing bacteria/ microorganisms that digest complex carbohydrates found in most fruits and vegetables.
In addition to this, high carbohydrate content in their diet causes excessive production of glucose in the blood and might eventually lead to insulinoma, a rare type of beta cell cancer in their pancreas. Vegetables also contain its own vegetable protein which cannot be digested by ferrets as well. A high consumption leads to other diseases such as bladder stones, gastroenteritis, inability to reproduce and grow kits (baby ferret), and skin ulcerations.
Ferrets shouldn’t be fed with apples, lentils, lima beans, blackberries, pears, raspberries, pinto, pigeon beans, spinach, banana, blueberries, broccoli, dates, guava, figs, kiwi fruit, onions, orange, plums, sweet potatoes, grapes or the dried form raisins.
Fruits contain unnecessary sugars which are bad for them and their teeth, so to keep them in top shape and away from sickness, avoid anything that is not meat! If you are planning to train them to eat vegetables, do not give them whole and raw.
You can boil carrots or potatoes and mash them mixed with meat chunks for at least just one a week with a little serving only. You’ll need to mash it well for them to easily process and flush it out but generally put into mind that the contents of this food group are not at all helpful for their overall health, so it is still best to follow its carnivorous diet.
Urinary Tract Infection and Stones in Ferrets
Feeding your ferrets foods that are plant-based, like fruits and vegetables can actually cause them some diseases. They can acquire urinary tract stones due to the accumulation of plant-based proteins. The stones are made up of the compound Calcium oxalate, which can be found mostly in raw leaves, fleshy fruits vegetables and grains which compose some poor quality adult cat or dog food. Stones are very painful for ferrets, and if left untreated, it may be dangerous and fatal for them.
Oral And Intestinal Problems Acquired From Eating Fruits
Sugars cannot be digested by ferrets, as well as fibers and carbohydrates which mainly compose most fruits. Ferrets cannot eat bananas because of the high sugar content, also mangoes and pineapple containing high fiber.
While most have acids, and other compounds which have no actual nutritional values for your ferrets. It does not matter whether it is fresh or dried because it still is bad for them. The sugar contents are bad for their teeth, and anything that passes through their pancreas that shouldn’t get there may cause deeper problems like severe indigestion leading to gastroenteritis, beta cell disorders which may lead to insulinoma or even intestinal cancer. And one more thing, they do not have grinding molars that larger animals and humans possess so do not feed them anything they cannot chew well which may block their airways, esophagus, and choke them.
Feeding Ferrets Peas Can Cause Diseases
Just like any other fruit and vegetable, once peas are added to a ferret’s diet, it can cause severe diseases unimaginable. There is concrete evidence studied which clearly suggest that peas should be avoided because it can cause bladder stones in ferrets.
Although it is a complete food for us, humans, because it contains Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, manganese, thiamin, and folate, it should not be a part of a ferret’s diet because of its high fiber content and its plant-based protein accumulates eventually forming gallbladder stones.
So to save your ferret pet’s life and your resources for surgical procedures, eradicated entirely from their diet any grain and legume food group.
Your Ferret Can Eat Vegetables If….
They have Scurvy, which is a disease caused by lack of Vitamin C. Ferrets do not have the capacity to produce their own Vitamin C (which we always know is overall helpful in boosting the immune system) in their bodies so as a supplement, you can occasionally feed them with little amounts of “ferret safe vegetables” such as mushrooms, potatoes, squash, cauliflower, unseeded peppers, carrots, tomato salsa, and broccoli (preferred boiled and grind to puree).
If the scurvy hinders them from being playful and active, try adding some chopped green peppers once daily (preferably added to their pellets) to lessen its effects.
Warning Signs To See If You Are Feeding Your Ferrets The Wrong Foods
It is not really advisable to change your ferret’s carnivorous diet to a vegetarian or an omnivorous one. The advised non-meat foods are only recommended as a supplement for any other lacking nutrient that hinders your pet’s activity.
Once you are aware of feeding them non-meat foods, always check their poop, and observe their behavior. When they get a “seedy poop” that is an obvious sign of undigested nutrients their bodies do not accept and can be bad for them.
Giving fruits which contain much sugar and carbohydrates can lead to certain illness like insulinoma, organ failure (renal, intestine and liver most of the time), and a hypoglycemic shock which may lead to comatose or even death if unattended right away.
If you can’t keep from giving them fruits and vegetables for treats, just make sure you will closely watch for any dangerous warning signs to treat them immediately.
Other Related Questions
How often can I feed my ferret fruits like bananas, melon, or mangoes? It should only be occasional, or better yet, not at all! Fruits are composed of sugar, fiber, and carbohydrates which are not advisable to be a part of its diet. To keep it safe and healthy, follow only the recommended meat-based diet.
Should my ferret drink water? Yes, and it is very important to give them lots of fresh and clean water daily to avoid dehydration especially if you are feeding dry foods or if the weather starts to heat up. Just observe them while drinking as they can smell some chemicals in the water when they turn their nose up. Once they do this filter the water to extract chlorine or other chemicals in the water.
Can ferrets eat fish or seafood? Though it has the same contents as meat they shouldn’t be fed any fish or seafood. If you feed them these, you cannot remedy anything for their stinky and watery poop unless they stop eating it. So to avoid all the unwanted mess, their best protein source is plainly meat products.
Can I give them coconut oil or olive oil? Yes, but only when they are constipated especially when they get “hairballs” while self-grooming. Coconut oil doesn’t just serve as a laxative when they have disturbed bowels due to constipation but is also helpful in keeping their fur coat shinier and smoother. Observe your pet well if you are giving it for the first time to see if it has allergic or disturbing reactions to it like loss of appetite with other foods or vomiting.