How to Fatten Up a Ferret? Effective Ways To Do It
Along with cats and dogs, ferrets have become a popular pet nowadays. But they are not so easy to feed as your dogs and cats are. Ferret is a picky eater and can easily turn his nose to any unsatisfactory food.
Considering the taste bud along with maintaining a healthy diet, fatten up a ferret can actually be quite difficult. Because ferrets are not for everyone, but if are nice to them, they can be a joyful companion.
Ferrets can gain weight in many ways. In this article, I am going to tell you the ways of fattening up your pet.
How to Make Ferret Gain Weight?
While you are very much enthusiastic about fattening up your ferret, you should know the method of playing the game of calories in vs. calories out. In fact, these are the two most important pillars for your ferret if you want it to gain weight.
If you can balance between calories in and out as well as maintain a healthy diet, you are not so far to fatten up your ferret.
Increasing The Amount Of Calories Intake
Again, there are two ways your ferrets can intake more calories. Either by increasing the amount of food your ferret takes in each of its meals or slightly reducing the food in each meal and add a full meal at the end of the day.
Decreasing The Number Of Calories Burnt
For less calorie burn, simply limit the ability of your ferret to exercise. This does not mean you won’t let it play or lock it up in a cage all day! Let it play, but for a short period. Allow it in a comparatively smaller space so that it can’t find enough space to have fun and burn out calories.
Maintaining a proper diet chart for ferret can be difficult. Why? This is because due to incorrect caloric calculation a ferret can still lose weight even if it eats just fine.
Essential Food Habits for Weight Gain
Being picky eater ferrets do not enjoy every food. Sometimes they just feel monotonous in their diet. Eventually, they lose appetite. So, you have to make sure; you feed them with a different menu each day. Maybe you can change their menu in a couple of days while balancing calories and maintaining a healthy diet.
Food Rich in Protein and Fat
As they need foods that are rich in protein and fat, some may consider cat or kitten food. But adult cat food contains less protein and fat than that of kitten food. Hence the latter one can be a solid source of fat and protein for a ferret.
Also,the ferret is not a fish lover by nature. So chicken, turkey, beef or lamb should be the priority ingredients when choosing kitten food. Meat and eggs are two excellent sources of animal protein that you can also include in your ferret diet.
Food That Has Fewer Fibers and Carbohydrates
Fiber is not a good choice for them. Hence too many vegetables or fruit can cause a digestive problem. Also, ferrets do not require much of carbohydrates. That is why don’t take any risk to feed grains or whole grains.
But high-quality kibbles are really good for them. On the other hand, processed food and high carbs can be poisonous for them.
Other Food Items
Treats like scrambled eggs, cooked or raw chicken, beef or lamb can be a very healthy diet for ferrets. Some ferrets also do enjoy eating small mice.
Feeding them meat regularly is fine but commercial dry food should be included in the diet. I will describe more about dry food below.
Ferrets may also enjoy sweets, but sugar is not for their digestive system. Also, chocolate is a toxic choice for your little furry pet. So, make sure you keep chocolates and sugar out of reach.
Due to bad food or the wrong diet, they may have serious health issues.Such as dental disease, gastrointestinal problems, stones in the bladder, diseases of the skin and even cancer of different types.Also, harder (solid) foods, i.e.,biscuits that are hard to bite, may accelerate dental illness. Keep in mind that any illness can lead them to lose weight.
Best Foods for Fattening Up Ferrets
There are mainly two types of diet that are good for ferrets. It doesn’t matter which one you follow. You can choose a single diet, or you may want to follow both over a certain period of time. However, you can combine the two as well.
Just make sure you did enough research on it because all you want is to make your ferret gain weight. Before selecting any diet, know that each has its respective pros and cons. I will be including those at the end of the article.
Also, not each ferret’s metabolism works the same way so research over and over again. Talk to a ferret veterinarian if needed. But make sure you prepare a healthy diet for your pet.
Let me introduce the very two common diets of ferret one by one.
Commercial Dry Foods
For gaining weight fast, commercial dry foods that are specially designed for ferrets, have no alternative. Even it’s the best option to start with. Because with commercial dry food you know exactly how much calories are there in each serving of the food.
This way, helps you to test and adjust your ferret’s caloric intake from a single meal.
You can choose either a kitten food or cat food as the main feed for your ferret. But many of these products are not suitable for ferrets. This is because some companies only think about their profit and provide low quality of food.
The poor quality will certainly do much harm to your ferret rather than doing any good. So, knowing the right product for your ferret is really important.
Again, there are some companies who make ferrets’ diets which provide the perfect nutrients that your ferret needs. Generally, it is said that mixture of around 20 percent of fat and 40 percent of protein with corn, soy, and other plant fillers and a very low amount of percentage of fiber (3% is fine) is an ideal food for ferrets.
There are many packaged foods nowadays in the market. Perhaps you think which one to buy? Which one is good for your ferret? Let me be more specific about some dog &cat-food brands for ferrets.
WysongEpigen 90 Digestive Support Dry Ferret Food
This packaged food provides you high quality of kibbles. It has protein of around 60%,and fat is about 16% along with flaxseed, pectin of apples and root of chicory. Moreover, there are beneficial probiotics, antioxidants.
With enzymes, minerals,and vitamins, it is a perfect combination of nutrition. It also contains soluble fiber along with omega fatty acid. This fiber enhanced prebiotics that helps her with the digestive system.
Wysong Archetype Rabbit Formula Freeze-Dried Dog & Cat Food
This particular food carries prebiotics, probiotics, and a wide array of vitamins/minerals and other micronutrients. It is a starch free and meat-based ferret food. It is not also heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit and said to be True Non-Thermal technology which is surely a healthy diet for your ferrets.
Orijen Regional red dry cat food
This is very healthy for ferrets and perfect for gaining weight. It contains deboned chicken and turkey with livers, whole egg, chicken head, neck, and fat. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, spinach, mustard green and a lot of healthy ingredients are here too to help to gain ferret’s weight.
Evo Grain Free Turkey and Chicken Formula Cat Food
It is rich in turkey and chicken-based protein but absolutely grain free. It also has eggs, apples, tomatoes, chicken, and carrots and is formulated with antioxidant vitamins. Moreover, EVO also offers a great mixture of fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6). With 50% of protein, surely it’s a booster for ferret’s healthy diet.
Marshall Premium Ferret Food
There is no doubt that ferrets are carnivores, which means they eat other animals. Which means they surely require protein from meat. The meat used in the Marshall Premium Ferret Food is processed in low-temperature.
This is a vitamin and fat enriched formula to provide the energy your ferret needs for growth, gaining weight, getting a shiny coat and overall health.
These are some of the expensive packaged products foods. They are enriched with the high quality of ingredients with kibbles. If you don’t consider these types of quality, good products and want to save money, you might not actually save a single penny because poor quality ingredients will certainly increase your veterinary cost.
Raw Meat Based Food
This category of food can be divided into a few sub-categories. They are as follows:
Raw Chicken Items
Fats, bones, raw muscle, organs, and raw liver, or hearts of whether chicken or turkey; ferrets love them all. And these are one of the healthiest dishes you would ever serve for your ferret.
Raw Meat Items
Raw meat of beef, lamb, pork, or even steak all make a healthier raw meat diet. These raw meaty bones as a regular diet is a super idea for ferret feeding.
Raw Egg Items
Apart from scrambled eggs when it’s time for raw egg item, it’s better to avoid egg white. However, raw egg yolks can be added to their diet as a healthy meal.
But remember that raw items are not as good as cooked items. There is a little difference between the calorie content in raw or uncooked food than in the cooked one. Like raw meat does help you to calculate the proper calories for your ferrets. It provides the correct amount of caloric intake than cooked meat.
As fats are an essential energy source for ferrets and excellent for gaining weight choose the fattier cuts of meat rather than leaner cuts. It not only aids with the nutritional profile requires but also increase its daily calorie intake.
Apart from these two common diets, there are also other diets like whole prey, treats along with a homemade diet for their ferrets to gain weight. I will try to discuss the other diets below. Keep reading.
Meat-based treats or table scraps are also a good choice while feeding ferret. But the only problem with this type of treat is that you have no clue about the caloric intake. So, it’s hard to know whether your ferret is actually gaining proper weight or becoming overweight pet!
While there is a lot of treats out there in the market nowadays, you can use Stewart Pro-Treat Freeze Dried treats as it has a fixed size with fixed calorie content.
Whole Prey Diet
Whole prey means feeding the ferret a variety of whole carcasses such as baby chicks, turkey and rats. 75-80% raw meat, 10-15% edible bones and 10% organ meat (half of that being liver) are said to be the standard model for feeding whole prey.
As giving live prey to ferret is not legal in all countries, we buy them fresh meat from the butcher shop. But make sure those meats are free from preservatives. Any kind of preservative will surely harm your ferrets. Whole prey diet is really necessary or recommended for gaining weight.
Homemade Ferret Food
Some do prefer homemade food for their ferrets. But, while preparing homemade food, be sure you know which combination is good for your ferret. Otherwise, you will end up doing even worse to your pet rather than good.
Simple Duck Soup
A common and healthy homemade item for a ferret is duck soup. It is excellent for them to gain weight. Simple duck soup is nothing but blended kibbles. If you already give raw kibble to your ferret, you can try soaking the kibble in hot water for an hour or so and then just blend, and you are ready with duck soup.
Duck Soup with Mix Ingredients
Cooked meat, boiled eggs, pure meat baby food, kitten replacement milk powder or especially whipped cream can be blended and added with duck soup. You can even store the leftover in a freezer in an ice cube tray. For thawing, you can later use the microwave.
In this mixture, you can also add raw meat like ground up chicken, or instead of boil eggs, you can add raw eggs. Here's a recipe.
To thaw if you don’t want to use the microwave as it defeats the purpose of raw you can use a refrigerator or simply can wait for a couple of hours. But be careful with your timing, because keeping food out of the refrigerator for so long may make the food perishable and your ferret will not only turn its nose but also never eat this soup ever again, even if you serve a fresh one.
Rabbit Meat Duck Soup
Rabbit meat is another ingredient you can add with this soup. Just cut the meat into small diced bits and add. Your ferret may take a few days to adjust with the rabbit meat.
Later you can also add chunks of meat with bones to this raw soup.
Pros and Cons of Each Diet
As mentioned earlier, each type of diet has its respective advantages and disadvantages that one should know before feeding his ferret.
- With commercial dry food, you do exactly know about the quality of foods and ingredients and can choose very high-quality proteins and fat.
- Whole prey diets let you know about how well-balanced high protein and low carbohydrate diet you have chosen for your ferret.
- Fats are the most vital and essential for an overall healthy life, and raw meats are a great source of fat.
- Whole prey and raw foods (meat and bones) promote better dental health.
- Homemade diets can be difficult for balancing.
- With commercial raw or freeze-dried foods, caution is a must. Otherwise, you may do much harm than help to your ferret.
- Whole prey diets may have something poisonous inside it.
- Whole prey also comes with the possibility of choking, obstructions, and injuries from bones.
- Treat diet cannot tell you about the exact amount of caloric intake.
How to Know Your Ferret Has Gained Weight?
Gaining weight is always a gradual process with enough time and proper efforts. You should not expect your ferret to gain weight overnight. Even, it can take up to a month before you see any sign of weight gain.
But there are ways to make yourself sure that your ferret is gaining weight. That is, weighing your ferret periodically (maybe every day, or every couple of days, or once a week). And you can also keep tracking of his weight in a journal. Pictures do help for seeing visual progress.
Calculating caloric in and out is really important for gaining weight. Hence, choose a diet that tells you the exact amount of calories intake. Any ferret veteran could tell you about the perfect weight of a ferret. You can always compare the actual weight, with desire gaining weight and do necessary changes in its diet.
Why Do Ferrets Lose Weight?
Losing weight can be very common for ferrets during the summer. They generally gain weight in winter. If not seasonal then illness, malnutrition, low appetite, recovering from surgery, etc. can be the cause of losing weight.
Ferrets have a tendency to lose weight seasonally. By applying any of these healthy diets in winter and summer, you can keep your furry little pet healthier throughout the year.
However, it’s necessary that you chose the right foods and diet for your pet. Otherwise, it could have an adverse effect on your health.
And if you come across any problems while fattening up your ferret, then let me know in the comments section. I’ll try to help you out as soon as possible.