FRUITS AND VEGETABLES FOR FERRETS???

Easy answer, NEVER!

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!

ROCK HARD BANDITS TREATS

When a ferret is surrendered, I often get a half opened package of Bandits Treats.  Pretty soon my bowl is full of partial bags of treats. Even though the treats don’t last long in this house with so many furries begging at my feet; I still come across the odd bag where the treats have turned rock hard.

Now, some of the furries will still chew away on these little “rock hard” treats, but I have mostly old furries and they have a difficult time with these treats.

Instead of throwing them out, I use a good, old fashioned tip, my family has used since I was a kid.  I cut a piece of apple and put it in the treat bag.  Leave it overnight and then discard.

If the treats are still not as soft as you would like, cut a fresh piece of apple. The moisture from the apple allows the treats to soften naturally. Please note, leaving the apple piece in too long will cause your treats to grow mold or ferment. So, please, do not repeat the apple  more than for 2 days.

When my brown sugar gets hard, I do the same thing. A slice of apple will soften that brown sugar in no time flat.

partially used bag of treats(hard as a rock) surrendered with ferret

partially used bag of treats(hard as a rock) surrendered with ferret

slice of apple softens the treats naturally

slice of apple softens the treats naturally

Another use for Duck Tape……………

As a shelter mom for over 15 years, I sometimes puff out my chest and brag to my ferrets that I have outsmarted them and everything is ferret proofed! Ha Ha I snort at them.

God has a way of taking you down a peg even if it is only ferrets you are being smug with!

In my defense, I have a sinus headache today, but, really, that is no excuse for letting my guard down.

My mornings start with letting certain ferrets out to play.  The old ones come out first as they do a couple of tours and then find the most comfy spot to curl up and go to sleep. Everyone joins me in the kitchen for some Ferretone. *Ferretone discontinued in 2020, shelter is now using Salmon Oil cut with canola Oil.

The Ferretone bottle always leaks at little after you puncture that titsy bitsy tiny pin hole in the cap.  Ferretone does a lovely job of staining your clothes, so I have taken to wrapping a folded paper towel around the bottle;  securing the paper towel with an elastic.  I have done so for years.

New Ferretone Bottle

New Ferretone Bottle

drip containment tools!

drip containment tools!

Ferretone bottle ready for use

Ferretone bottle ready for use

so, as I was saying, I have my seniors group out playing. Molly, Weasel, Finny, Mariko, Star, Rosie, Jnyx, JJ, and Bee or 9 fuzzbutts crowding around to have some Ferretone.  After an hour, everyone got put back to bed and I let out Dwight and his harem.  They came bouncing into the kitchen and I reached for the Ferretone bottle to give them all a treat.

The paper towel slid down the bottle; elastic gone!!! No,no, no  elastic causes blockages! Oh my God, 9 ferrets, which one ate it. Calm down, don’t panic!!! Scoop Dwight and his women and put them in the bedroom for now.

I am now back in the kitchen on hands and knees inspecting the floor. Please God, let me find the elastic, all of it or I will be dosing 9 ferrets with hairball laxative and praying over litter boxes.

Far corner, under the cabinet, eureka! The elastic and it’s all there; the broken ends match up! Deep breath, a few tears of relief and one heart attack avoided!

heart attack avoided, elastic is all there

heart attack avoided, elastic is all there

I use the Ferretone bottle 10 times a day at least.  How am I doing to handle the bottle without getting Ferretone all over me and my clothes? Light bulb comes on, secure the paper towel with something safer!!

Ferretone bottle duct taped up the wazoo

Ferretone bottle duct taped up the wazoo

The duct tape worked for a short while and then one day, slowly slid down! Damn, the oil loosened the tape.

Plan B, paper towel, elastic and then duct tape the bottle. The whole thing will stay on longer and when it does start to let go, the elastic is inside and can’t drop off without me knowing.

paper towel, elastic and duct tape over it all. Take that you drippy bottle

paper towel, elastic and duct tape over it all. Take that you drippy bottle

So, yes, I used duct tape.  I wonder if the company would like to know about my latest use of their product!

I went and kissed all my seniors and thanked them for not eating the elastic. Mommy owes them big time!

Lost Ferret Protocol! What to do when your ferret goes missing!

You can’t find your ferret! You have just spent the last hour or two looking in every nook and cranny in your house or apartment! Your ferret was asleep behind the TV or so you thought when your company was leaving! Your ferret was asleep in the bedroom when you took out the garbageor when you opened the door for just a second!

Before starting your search outdoors, you will need the following:

  • Pictures of your ferret: the more recent the better it  and who doesn’t have tons of pictures of their fur babies on their phone or laptop
  • Squeaky toy: that you have used to train your ferret to come to you with.
  • Treat bag: that you normally shake and he comes running for his treat
  • Flashlight: if it is after dark

Step One:

  1. Leave the front door ajar slightly – in the off chance that your ferret will come home while you are out looking. Do this only if you have someone home to watch the door. I have gone looking outside; positive the ferret had escaped only to be greeted by said ferret at the door when I came home.  You don’t want your ferret leaving the house while you are out looking! Stranger things have happened!
  2. Call your ferret, squeak that toy, shake that bag of treats.  Your neighbours will hear you even if your ferret doesn’t and you can alert them to the fact that you are looking for your lost ferret.
  3. Check the perimeter of the house/apartment block. Ferrets instinctively avoid being out in the open
  4. Check under bushes and shrubs.
  5. Ask permission to check out garages that have their doors open
  6. Check under decks, asking permission if you must go on someone else’s property.
  7. Check in woodpiles, asking permission if you must go on someone else’s property.
  8. Alert all your neighbours in a two or three  block radius, north, east, south and west.
  9. Enlist the neighbourhood children ages 7 or 8 and up to help you look. Show them a picture of your ferret. Tell them not to try and pick up the ferret but to call for help.  Offer a small reward. Children know all the best hiding spots from playing hide and seek.
  10. If you have multiple ferrets, take the lost ferret’s cage mate out on a leash and walk the neighbourhood.  The scent of the cage mate you are walking may guide your lost ferret home.

Step Two:

  1. Print up lost ferret notices and drop them in every mail box for 4 or 8 blocks in every direction. Yes, ferrets can travel that far!
  2.  Drop off a poster of your lost ferret to every pet store in the area
  3. Drop off a poster of your lost ferret to every vet clinic in the area.
  4. Call the Humane Society and alert them to your lost ferret
  5. Call the MFA and alert them to your lost ferret (didn’t think I should have to put this one in, but, for those who were to upset to think, just a gentle reminder that folks will often call us to come capture or pick up a lost ferret.)
  6. Call the local radio station that does lost alerts
  7. Use social media to alert them of your lost ferret. Lost Dog Alert will post regarding lost ferrets. use every lost alert facebook page you can reach

Step Three:

  1. Take your ferret’s carrier (with food, water and blanket)  or cage if  possible and set it outside by the door. The smell of food and his blanket  just might help guide him home.
  2. Some folks will offer a reward and this is something to consider
  3. Retrace your steps, checking the same areas several times. A friend of mine was following her ferret’s paw prints in the snow. They went around the house and back and around again. She stopped and looked behind her to see her ferret had been following her. So, your ferret may be following your scent.

 

 

 

How to make Duck Soup /Soupies For Ferrets on a Kibble diet

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.

Recovery brand wet food from vet

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

Food used;

  • 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
    1. Enough to cover the kibble by one inch
    2. 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

pureed ferret kibble

pureed ferret kibble

probiotics from Marshalls

probiotic from your vet

Recovery brand wet food from vet

High quality wet cat food such as Nutrience

  • 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
  • heaping teaspoon of pureed kibble

    heaping tablespoon of pureed kibble

    IMG_1141

    Finished duck soup, you can drizzle a small amount of the oil supplement such  as Salmon Oil/Olive Oil/Flax Oil/ canola oil to entice your ferret to try the   duck soup. Optional

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.

Miscellaneous Questions:

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!!