Sometimes, giving your ferret supplementary pureed kibble aka duck soup or soupies is not enough for a ferret struggling with their weight. Most often this is a ferret with health issues; Insulinoma or adrenal disease or perhaps just old age weight loss.
Perhaps you simply want to provide your ferret with a pure protein meal as a treat. You could go out and buy a jar of “Chicken with Broth” from the baby food isle of your supermarket. You will pay a premium price for that tablespoon of food in that jar. Or, you can make your own pureed chicken from scratch and it will be even better than the store bought version. Why? You will be processing the skin and bones along with the chicken to make a more robust puree.
You will need a pressure cooker and a good quality blender.
Place your chicken into the pot and add water to the marked water line. I turn my element on hi to bring the chicken to a boil. Once I hear the steam, I turn the element down to high simmer (3.5) and set the timer for 3 1/2 hours. This length of cook time will cook the bones until they are soft and can be pureed. You want the good marrow in those bones. You want the good fat from the skin. **Remember to remove all the string from the raw chicken.
Puree the chicken using the juice to make the puree a nice thin liquid consistency.
This puree saved a ferret named Spud who was starved almost to death. He was within hour or two of crossing the Rainbow Bridge. I started with one teaspoon every hour on the hour. After 48 hours, Spud was up to heaping teaspoon and then he never looked back. Our vet said it was a miracle that his body was able to process the food.
As of today (January 15,2022) I have five elderly ferrets on four meals a day of the kibble/ chicken puree.
2021 saw the loss of a long standing ferret supplement distributed by 8 & 1 called Ferretone. There is a product distributed by Marshall’s called Furretone but many ferret owners found it too expensive or choose not to support Marshall products.
The hunt was on at the shelter to find an economical supplement. Flax seed oil is a good product but must be refrigerated. I couldn’t use it as I leave my bottle on the counter and it would be a pain to always be opening the fridge. Never mind the ice cold Fax seed oil drizzled on the ferret’s tummy!!I choose not to use Cod Liver oil because of the controversary over the vitamin A content. I couldn’t find any scientific data to prove its safety.
Next on the list was Olive Oil. Olive oil has great anti-inflammatory properties and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. All my ferrets turned their collective noses up at it. Go figure. Even when I cut it with Canola oil, they turned away from the dish.
The next supplement on my list to try was the Grizzly Brand Wild Salmon oil. With over 30 ferrets in my home, I choose the 32 oz bottle and just about had a heart attack when I saw the price. Most of the ferrets liked the taste, but again, the salmon oil had to be kept refrigerated and I kept forgetting to take it out of the fridge with each group coming out to play. My tummy did not like the salmon smell and instead of getting used to it, I started to gag when I used it. So, plan B was to “cut” it with canola oil to make it smell less bad. It sort of worked but I was still struggling with keeping it in the fridge. I left one small bottle out in the shelter room and hoped I would use it up before it had a chance to spoil. Well, it went rancid quicker than I thought! Lesson learnt.
I was in Pet Value looking to pick up a ball for my golden retriever Tucker, when I saw the Thrive brand of supplements. I read the label. Herring Oil! Same great omega fatty acids as the Salmon oil; however, the herring oil did not need refrigeration!!! Eureka. I bought a bottle to try on the ferrets. They loved it. An added bonus was that it wasn’t as fishy smelling and I was no longer gagging. The price point was much much better than the salmon oil and the shelter could easily afford it. I later found out that the Thrive Brand carries a Salmon Oil as well, but again it has to be refrigerated. I’ll stick with the Herring Oil.
I dropped in to Best West where I purchase my dog food and the shelter’s Go Chicken with Grains Cat food. I noticed they have their own brand of Salmon oil at a much better price point than the Grizzly Brand. Their brand has to be refrigerated too.
Last but not least, our vet clinic, Henderson Animal Hospital carries an omega fatty acid nutritional supplement. Our vet suggested we try it on a long term shelter ferret named Lucy. Lucy was acting as if she had Parkinson’s. She was shaking all the time. Her physical ruled out everything. We put Lucy on the supplement and within 2 weeks she was shaking half the amount of time. Our vet recommended we give it to her every 12 hours and within another 2 weeks, she was and is still symptom free. If you have an old and or sick ferret, the Vetoquinol care nutritional supplement may be your best option. Do check with your vet before giving it to your ferret.
There are lots of choices out there. You have to choose the supplement that works for you and your ferrets. I am sure that I have missed some options. If you have one to recommend to us, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First time ferret owners sometimes do lots of research on housing and play toys but neglect to do enough research on their ferret’s diet requirements.
Ferrets are carnivores; look at those sharp pointy canine teeth. Carnivore means meat eater. Meat, meat, meat!
Folks often choose a kibble diet for the convenience. When choosing a ferret kibble for your ferret, you can go with Marshall Ferret Diet or Totally Ferret. You should always have a mixture of two foods. This 50/50 mixture ensures that your ferret can adjust to any changes in one of the foods. Some folks go so far as using a 3 way mix. Ferrets imprint on their food source early in life and it can be nearly impossible to transition them to a new food.
There are only a few high protein cat foods that are suitable for your ferrets kibble mixture. I will only list one food as an example. I want to stress that you should be checking your ingredient list on a regular basis. Manufacturers update on a regular basis and what was once may be a good food for ferrets can become a bad food for ferrets.
Here is a very simple list of must haves:
first 3 proteins ingredients must be meat. Corn is a plant protein and often used to up the protein levels.
no peas, pea powder, legumes, none, nada, no exceptions. Peas are used as a filler and it causes bladder stones in our ferrets; can be fatal for our male ferrets.
try to choose a food with carbohydrates that have a lower glycemic number; tapioca is the best source. Ferrets on a high carbohydrate diet may experience blood sugar issues. The ferret body is not meant to process carbs. Rice is a second choice. Do your own research for more in depth information on carbs and Insulinoma in ferrets.
Under the Precentages:
32 – 40 % protein
20% fat content, check the percentages list
Crude Fiber 1.5% to 3.5% – DO NOT USE A FOOD WITH HIGHER FIBER NUMBERS. This is often overlooked but a food with high fiber is dangerous for ferrets.
So now let’s look at a ferret and cat kibble that the shelter uses; how does it meet the above requirements?
Marshall Premium Ferret Diet lists 38% protein, fat 18% and crude fiber 3.5%. first 3 ingredients are meat, and no peas or legumes.
GO Skin & Coat care Chicken Recipe With Grains. Never buy the Go Chicken Grain Free – it has peas.
32% protein (lower protein level required for our senior ferrets), fat 20% and crude fiber 2.5%. first 3 proteins are meat, and no peas or legumes. they use rice and oatmeal.
If you are choosing to feed a raw meat diet, please, please do in depth research. You can’t just feed a chicken breast and think they are getting all the nutrients they need. I am not an expert on the raw diet so I won’t advise on how to do it.
I embrace the best of both worlds. I recommend that your ferrets have a premium kibble mixture available 24/7; and please don’t drizzle oil over the kibble. It will make the kibble go rancid and you will be wasting a lot of food. Make one meal a day a cooked meat or raw meat meal. After a ferret got a blockage from grizzle, I recommend putting your raw meat through a grinder. I personally use cooked meats.
*Throw away those store bought treats and make your own. Cook a chicken breast and cube it. Tiny cooked meatballs are fun. Raw egg once a week. There are lots of ways to get whole protein into your ferret without carbs. Even canned wet cat food without carbs is good.
So, notice I didn’t mention any fruits. My girlfriend let her ferret steal a small grape. Two days later her lethargic ferret was rushed to the vet. A blockage! The grape skin didn’t break down and it cost her $1200.00 to remove. lesson learned.
No veggies? A member was feeding his ferret bits of carrot. One “bit” was too big and the ferret had to be rushed in for a blockage; their vet bill was $1,600.00. Ferrets do not have the enzymes to break down the skins and or pulp of veggies and fruit. NEVER FEED YOUR CARNIVORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES!
Over the years, I have taken shelter ferrets to the vet for a variety of issues. I am very happy when I come home with banana flavoured Amoxicillin; even better if the ferret received an antibiotic injection of Convena. I’m crying inside if I have to give the poor ferret Metronizodole.
The Amoxicillin dispensing label will state Refrigerate. Easy Peasy! But there are so many other medications prescribed for our ferret that come in little dark brown bottles. We know that the dark brown bottle is because the medication is light sensitive. Got it! The label states the dosage, perhaps the label will say Shake before use or give with food. All good!
Where do we store the medication? Well, somehow most of us over 30 have grown up with the universal knowledge that to keep anything “fresh”, you store it in the fridge!! This mind set carries over to medications especially since the odd medication states right on the label, highlighted in yellow, REFRIGERATE.
Turns out most of us have been wrong, wrong, wrong when it comes to medications for ourselves, and our pets. A recent event brought the issue to the forefront. A foster parent accidently put the fostered ferret’s Prednisolone in the freezer along with the home made duck soupies. A phone call to our pharmacist confirmed what I already suspected. The Prednisolone was spoiled. That was a $25.00 Owie! The pharmacist went on to explain that Prednisolone should be kept away from light, in a cool, dark place. I nodded sagely and said all my medications were stored in my fridge.
Imagine my surprise when the pharmacist scolded me gently. He told me 90% of all medications in liquid or pill form should be kept at room temperature. But, but, “cool dark place” I said; the fridge is a cool dark place. Apparently cool as in you don’t want the medication sitting on the ledge over your stove and against an appliance that generates heat. You don’t want the medication sitting on your work desk under a lamp. You want the medication to be away from direct light, in a cool place. The pharmacist went on to say that a cupboard in your kitchen is a perfect spot; not the medicine cabinet in your bathroom which is a hot, humid place at the start of each day!
So I challenged him; Sulcrate – cool, dark place, Pepto Bismal – cool, dark place, Kaopectate – cool, dark place, cat hair ball remedy – definitely room temperature, bandages – your medicine cabinet. We had a good laugh.
I then spoke with our vet clinic and sure enough all medications should be kept at room temperate, in a dark place. Keeping the medication in the fridge can actually cause the medication to degrade and affects its stability.
The only medication that is weird is the Medicam for Cats. The external packaging saying refrigerate, but some vets will tell you to keep it at room temperature. Apparently it is one of those medications that can handle it both ways.
So, unless the label states in yellow highlight refrigerate, make room in a cupboard in the kitchen for all the medications. I want a white lab coat so I can pretend I run a pharmacy lol. I had to go out and buy a small two drawer cabinet to put all the assorted medications and ointments in for the shelter ferrets. My medications and vitamins are all now in a cupboard in the kitchen!
Congratulations. You are on your way to pick out your baby ferret. You will need to invest in a carrier to bring your baby ferret home. Ferrets grow very fast and that baby ferret at 6 or 7 weeks will be full grown size wise by 16 weeks or 4 months! So plan ahead and purchase a carrier that will be suitable for your full grown fuzzbutt!
Some carriers are not suitable even for a baby ferret of 6 or 7 weeks. There is not enough floor space and very poor ventilation.
So, now you know not to purchase this carrier. If you have one or two ferrets but NO MORE than 2 ferrets the next carrier would be very suitable. Good floor space and best of all great ventilation!
You will notice I have not shown carriers made of cloth with plastic mesh. We have found ferret owners complain that the cloth carriers do not retain their shape. Worst of all, a bored ferret can easily chew the plastic mesh and escape into the car.
Bottom line is that you want the largest carrier possible so that your ferrets have plenty of ventilation and will not overheat.