updated January 2021
As a shelter mom for over twenty-two plus years, I am sure I have made enough duck soup to fill a child’s swimming pool. The smell of the pureed kibble is not wonderful and in the early years thanks to my sensitive nose I did gag, however I persevered – my ferret’s recovery from the flu, ECE, or surgery depended on it.
Always consult your veterinarian and follow their instructions. I am assuming that you have taken your ferret to your vet for treatment and you are following your vet’s instructions which may include feeding your ferret a “duck soup”. Duck soup should never be given instead of getting prompt veterinarian care.
* Please note this duck soup is only meant as a temporary food source for a few days. This is not meant as the only source of food for your HEALTHY ferret. Your ferret should go back to eating his regular food as soon as possible. How will you know your ferret is ready to transition back to their regular food? Always have a small portion of their regular food available in the cage so the ferret can choose.
**Our vet recommends our ferrets have Royal Canin brand Recovery canned wet food. It is the best choice for the first 48 hours. Because ferrets have not tasted this before, we have found that if you add a drizzle of Furo-tone / Salmon oil (or whatever oil you currently give your ferret ) will entice the ferret to try it. After 48 hours with our vet’s blessing; we switch from the canned wet food to our duck soup for a few more days until the ferret is showing good improvement.
Supplies will you need;
- A large bowl to soak your 2 cups of the kibble they are currently eating. There are other good duck soups out there for those of you who feed raw. This is not the time to introduce a new food
- a kettle of boiling water – you are not boiling their food, you are soaking it in boiled water to be able to puree it. Hot tap water will not turn the kibble into a soft mush.
- a blender to puree the soaked food
- ice cube trays or small ziplock snack containers
- minimum of 2 cups of your ferret’s current kibble
- It is easier to do multiple batches then to double or triple your supplies. I burnt out my first blender. I now have an industrial blender and that allows me to make huge batches as I do have lots of furries!
- a powdered probiotic from your vet or a powdered probiotic from Marshalls or plain yogurt. OPTIONAL. If your only option is the yogurt, only use a tiny amount. *please check the sugar content on the yogurt. We all know ferrets should not have sugar and some brands of yogurt have way too much sugar (even for us humans). If you are using the yogurt, the amount you will be using for those few days should not be an issue unless your ferret is already battling Insulinoma. If your ferret has Insulinoma do not add the yogurt. In the last few years, our vet has prescribed a powdered probiotic and we no longer use the yogurt. I do know some ferret owners do not have access to the powdered probiotic so the plain yogurt is better than nothing. As an example, Oikos plain yogurt has 6 grams of sugar per cup which breaks down to 48 teaspoons. There is 0.125 gram of sugar in a teaspoon. That is negligible! Consult your vet for a powdered probiotic. The Marshalls probiotic is also now available. When I originally used this recipe, you couldn’t get powdered probiotics.
- high protein easily digestible canned wet food from your vet – Royal Canin Recovery or a high protein meal replacement such as Glucerna in Vanilla flavor only. A bottle of Glucerna is 237 ml or 50 teaspoons. There is 4.4 grams of sugar in those 50 teaspoons, so using one teaspoon in your duck soup mix would mean 0.088 gram of sugar, negligible for the few days you are using it. You are using this to add a punch of protein. Do not use the Glucerna if your ferret has Insulinoma. Can’t get the wet food from your vet, a great alternative is a good quality canned wet cat food containing only water and meat. Chicken with broth baby food is also a good choice.
- OPTIONAL – the oil based vitamin supplement you are currently using as an incitement to get the ferret to try the soup. The shelter currently uses Salmon Oil cut 50% with olive oil. Some of our ferrets will not take Salmon Oil so those ferrets have a 50/50 mix of Canola Oil and Olive Oil. You are only drizzling a tiny little bit on the warmed up dish of duck soup to encourage your ferret to lick the duck soup. If your ferret willingly licks up the duck soup without, then you don’t need to use the Oil.
Making the duck soup:
- Pour boiling water over the two cups of kibble – you are not boiling the kibble
- Enough to cover the kibble by one inch
- Let soak until kibble is soft and can be broken down with a fork, you may need to add more boiling water as the kibble soaks up the moisture
- Put 1/2 cup of the mushy kibble in the blender, add enough hot water if needed to help the blender puree.
- Repeat until the 2 cups of kibble have been pureed.
- Pour the pureed kibble into the containers you have selected, cool pureed kibble and then freeze
- please note, you have not added the canned wet food/Glucerna, the probiotic or oil to this step of making the duck soup. These items are added at the time you are warming up the tablespoon or two of duck soup to be served to your ferret.
You can keep pureed kibble frozen until needed, just thaw in the fridge
- Put one heaping tablespoon or two of the pureed kibble in the dish
- warm your duck soup in the microwave for a few seconds (10 to 15 seconds) **stir with your finger to ensure there are no “hot spots” that can burn your ferret’s tongue. You want the duck soup warm not hot or “cooked”.
- Add probiotic as per your vet instructions or Optionally one half teaspoon of Glucerna to the mixture.
- Add the canned wet food from your vet
Giving your ferret the duck soup:
- place a towel on your lap
- hold your ferret in one hand and offer the duck soup dish with the other hand
- your ferret should slurp down the duck soup
How to teach your ferret to like the duck soup:
If your ferret is not interested in licking the soup at all, drizzling a little of the oil you are using as a supplement such as Salmon Oil/Olive Oil/Flax Oil on it will make the soup enticing. (It goes without saying if your ferret has never had any Oil based supplements before this won’t work)!
Some other options are;
- Apply a little of the duck soup mixture to the tip of your ferret’s nose. The ferret will automatically clean it’s nose. You may have to do this repeatedly for the first few feedings while your ferret is in reality managing to lick off maybe a teaspoon worth of duck soup.
- Dab your finger in the duck soup and offer your finger to your ferret. Perhaps even rubbing your duck soup coated finger along the ferret’s back gums. I have known ferrets who enjoy this method that they demand this royal treatment long after they have learnt to like the duck soup.
- You may have to scruff your ferret, suck up some duck soup in a syringe and apply the syringe to the back corner of the ferret’s mouth. Slowly, gently squeeze the syringe as you do not want to have your ferret “inhale” the duck soup.
- Never offer the syringe via the front of the ferret’s mouth!
- Using a baby’s spoon (think Dollarama) put a little duck soup on the spoon and offer the spoon to your ferret. Believe it or not I have had ferrets who will finish a full dish of duck soup one spoon full at a time, but will not touch the dish itself.
It typically take several days for the ferret to learn to like the texture of the duck soup and willingly lick it right from the dish. Please note that if you go months without offering duck soup you will be back to square one as the ferret will no longer ‘remember’ liking this texture.
When you see your ferret eating their normal dry kibble, that’s a sure sign they no longer need the duck soup. You might want to continue to Give your ferret a tablespoon or two once a week so that he will see this as a weekly treat. If your ferret is sick, the duck soup mixture can be offered every 4 to 6 hours depending on whether the ferret is also still eating some hard kibble.
In the shelter sick ferrets get a dish of duck soup for breakfast, lunch, supper and bedtime. Your ferret should not need to be only the duck soup for more than 4 or 5 days. A critically ill ferret should be under the care of your vet and this recipe would not be suitable.
Q: Why am I using my ferret’s own food – kibble?
A: Because he is familiar with the taste and smell, if the first time your ferret is having duck soup is during an illness this is not the time to introduce a new food and cause further stomach upset.
Q: Why the probiotic?
A: If your ferret has diarrhea as part of its illness; you need to introduce probiotics to help the ferret. Your vet clinic may suggest that you use a powdered probiotic that is now available from them.
Q: Why the canned wet food or Glucerna?
A: The canned wet food from the vet or the Glucerna are a ‘high protein‘ food. You don’t want your ferret using more energy to crunch and eat hard kibble than what he is going to benefit from nutritionally. Licking he high protein food burns minimal calories so the nutrition stays on the positive side.
Q: How long should I give my sick ferret the duck soup? You give the duck soup as long as the ferret is too sick/weak to eat his dry kibble. His dry food should still be available to the ferret in his hospital cage for him to have if he wants it. Once the ferret is feeling better (watch the litter box) you will know to slowly reduce the servings of duck soup until you are back to offering it as a weekly treat.
Q: Can I give duck soup every day to a healthy ferret?
A: So long as it’s a small portion and not meant to replace a meal, there is no harm. Lots of ferret owners will give their ferret a teaspoon of duck soup with Melatonin mixed in as an easy way to give the daily Melatonin.
Q: My vet told me to give my sick ferret a can of their Recovery brand wet food – should I?
A: What my experience has shown is that this is a food that is foreign to the ferret and so he most likely will turn his nose up at it and may even gag. However, we know we can get around that. The canned wet food is very important in the first 48 hours. If your vet indicates the wet canned food is necessary then add a teaspoon it to your duck soup mixture when warming it up. The idea behind the canned Recovery wet food is the same reasoning; You want your ferret to burn as few calories as possible eating a high protein food so that the ferret is not expending more energy to eat than what the ferret is gaining. Canned wet cat food is a source of high protein food in an easy to digest formula. I always have some on hand. I know some of our members offer it once a week as a treat so that they continue to like it.
You would then want to have your ferret get used to the canned wet cat food while he is healthy. Stick with Canned wet cat food with ingredients that are water and meat. Most ferret wise vets will be happy to hear you have introduced them to canned wet cat food.
Q: Why do I keep smelling the duck soup long after feeding my ferret?
A: Well, I would say you are ‘wearing’ some duck soup in your hair, on your arms, maybe a smudge of it across your cheek where your ferret rubbed his face! If I have had a ferret fight me to take his duck soup I will look like I rolled in the stuff – but I am a crazy ferret mom and will do what it takes even if it means my ‘perfume’ has all the dogs in the neighborhood drooling over me!!