Category Archives: Ferrets

Best Food for Ferrets

Dr. Susan Brown DVM explains what type of food is best for ferrets and why.

“I have been an exotic animal veterinarian for the past 25 years and I have seen the damage that has been done in a number of species when we moved away from a raw, more natural diet, to processed diets. Two glaring examples are pet rabbits and pet birds. We have seen over the years that feeding a diet that is completely processed has caused innumerable ailments and premature death in both of these groups. When we returned them to foods that are more in tune with their physiology we saw a tremendous reduction in the incidence of specific diseases and we conversely have not seen any new diseases as a result of this change. There are a growing number of animal health professionals as well as pet owners that believe that processed dog and cat diets create disease as well. Changing these pets over to a balanced raw diet has shown incredible benefits.” ~ Dr. Susan Brown DVM.

To maintain optimum health, ferrets require a diet which most closely resembles that which they would get in the wild. They also require some sunlight.

Susan A. Brown, DVM writes: “Ferrets are strict carnivores, meaning they are designed to eat whole prey items, which includes all parts of the killed animal. The only non-meat items they might encounter in their diet would be in the stomach and intestinal tract of their prey, where it is partially digested. This might include small amounts of grains, fruits and vegetables.

Ferrets have a very short gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the flora (the organisms living in the GI tract) are very simple, unlike the flora of animals that eat more vegetation. It takes about 3 to 4 hours for food to go from one end to the other and thus they absorb food rather inefficiently. Ferrets tend to eat several smaller meals and carry any excess to their dens to eat later. Did you ever have a ferret that took food and tucked it away in the corner of the cage, or a piece of furniture? ”

Ferret babies eating rawmeat“A nutritious and balanced diet is the foundation of good health for all creatures including ferrets. Ferrets have been kept in captivity since 300 BC, but it is only in the last 40 years that we have changed their diet from raw foods to commercially processed foods. We have made the change primarily because we, the public, have demanded a uniformly easy to feed and hopefully nutritious food that allows us to successfully keep ferrets in our homes. I think everyone would agree that it is easier to pour little bits of food out of a bag than to go out and find whole prey items to feed. But the question is are we really providing a healthy ferret diet using processed foods?

Is it really possible to take raw food, grind it up, heat it to high temperatures, add ingredients that are not part of the normal diet, add back nutrients altered or destroyed during processing, press it into amusing shapes and have this be the equivalent of the natural diet”? I liken it to the Wonder Bread that I ate as a child. It was highly processed and stripped of many nutrients, then the nutrients were put back in chemically and it was put in an eye-catching package announcing its nutritional value. And didn’t we love that package with the little colorful balloons telling us we were buying a healthy product? And don’t we love the ferret food packages with cute pictures of ferrets everywhere? The food must be good if it has a ferret picture on it…shouldn’t that be the case?”

I have fed my own four dogs ranging in size from 200 pounds to 5 pounds an all raw diet for the past two years and I will never go back to processed. In my own case there were several problems that were cleared up in the “pack” with diet change alone including anal gland disease, skin and allergy problems, ear problems, obesity and gastrointestinal disease. I personally know a number of people who have made the same switch with both dogs and cats and the results are truly remarkable. Most animals experience a dramatic increase in energy level and a reduction in excess body weight. Some pets have been able to stop or reduce medication intake. Of course diet is not a miracle cure for all diseases, but it makes sense that if the body is nourished properly it can cope with disease and utilize needed medications more effectively.

So what should a ferret be eating? Let’s look at ferret gastrointestinal (GI) physiology to find out. Ferrets are strict carnivores, meaning they are designed to eat whole prey items, which includes all parts of the killed animal. The only nonmeat items they might encounter in their diet would be in the stomach and intestinal tract of their prey, where it is partially digested. This might include small amounts of grains, fruits and vegetables. Ferrets have a very short GI tract and the flora (the organisms living in the GI tract) are very simple, unlike animals that eat more vegetation. It takes about 3 to 4 hours for food to go from one end to the other and thus they absorb food rather inefficiently. Ferrets tend to eat several smaller meals and carry any excess to their dens to eat later. Did you ever have a ferret that took food and tucked it away in the corner of the cage, or a chair?

Because of the short GI tract and the poor absorption of nutrients, ferrets require a diet that is highly concentrated with FAT as the main source of calories (energy) and highly digestible MEAT-BASED PROTEIN. This would match the basic composition of a prey animal not excluding the essential vitamins and minerals it also contains. Ferrets should never be fed carbohydrates (such as vegetable, fruit or grains) as the main source of energy in the diet. Ferrets cannot digest fiber, as is found in some vegetable and fruit sources. If there is a significant amount of fiber in the diet it serves to lower the nutritional value of the food.

As mentioned, ferrets need a highly digestible meat-based protein in the diet. Vegetable protein is poorly utilized. In the presence of excess vegetable protein the ferret can suffer from such diseases as bladder stones, poor coat and skin quality, eosinophilic gastroenteritis (wasting, diarrhea, ulcerations of the skin and ear tips and swollen feet) poor growth of kits and decreased reproduction. Dog food and vegetarian-type pet foods are completely inappropriate for use in ferrets because of the high level of vegetable protein and fiber. The bottom line is that ferrets use fat for energy not carbohydrates and they need a highly digestible meat-based protein not vegetable protein.”

“On an almost total diet of raw whole carcass meat being fed only in the morning and living under natural light outside away from all the pollutants and chemicals found in a house the health of my ferrets is perfect.”

In December 1995, the British Journal of Small Animal Practice published a paper contending that processed pet food (kibble and canned food) suppresses the immune system and leads to liver, kidney, heart and other diseases. Dr. Kollath, of the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, headed a study done on animals. When young animals were fed cooked and processed foods they initially appeared to be healthy. However, as the animals reached adulthood, they began to age more quickly than normal and also developed chronic degenerative disease symptoms. A control group of animals raised on raw foods aged less quickly and were free of degenerative disease. For a return to health, pets require a diet which strengthens the immune system and most closely resembles that which they would get in the wild. It’s really easy to do. Learn more about raw food for carnivores

ECE Virus or Green Slime in Ferrets.

China27Black Walnut Hull works great for ECE (Epizootic Catarrhal Enteritis) and is much safer than using Colloidal Silver. Make a strong fusion by simmering 1 Tbsp black walnut hulls or root in 1/2 C water for 20-30 minutes. Add 2-3 drops of this to 1 C. drinking water every day for a minimum of 2-3 weeks or until green stools subside. Also use as a preventative any time ferrets come in contact with other strange ferrets at the Vets office or when boarding them for they are sure to contract the virus from other ferrets.

You can also use 2-3 drops of black walnut hull extract or tincture in 1 C drinking water but use the no-alcohol extracts.

 

The Cause of Ferret Tumor Syndrome Finally Discovered

New Scientific Evidence Finally Determines the Cause of Ferret Tumor Syndrome.

by Circkles.com

I worked with Colorado State University some 14-15 years ago on one of the first studies regarding Ferret Tumor Syndrome (also now known as Endocrine Disorder, Adrenal Disease, Insulinoma) and conducted 12 years of studies and analysis with my own ferret rescue all in an effort to try to find the cause of the 90% tumor rate in domestic ferrets. Finally, about 5-6 years ago, enough information was gathered, and enough study and analysis conducted, for researchers to finally determine the cause of the high incidence of adrenal tumors and insulinomas in pet ferrets. The sad but conclusive evidence points to the fact that ferrets should have never been domesticated in the first place.

I had a ferret rescue for over 12 years because I fell in love with these wonderful furry faces from the first time I met one, and after one of my first three ferrets developed tumors at only 3 1/2 years old, I was determined to find out why so something could be done about it.

Ferrets are highly intelligent (some say every bit as intelligent as dogs and I would agree), can be trained like a dog or cat and are just adorable to have around; so of course, people would want them as pets. However, the love affair of having ferrets as pets has been dropping off dramatically over the years as word got around about how sickly they are and the anguish suffered by their owners when these lovable little creatures would get sick and die at only half their life expectancy. Now that word is getting out that the reason for it all is something that cannot be avoided as long as they are being bred and sold as pets and therefore have to be spayed or neutered, the demand for pet ferrets has drastically reduced. Most pet stores have stopped carrying ferrets altogether so finding one for a pet is getting very difficult; and in some areas, is now impossible.

Ferrets have a very delicate and intricate reproductive system, and studies have determined that having them spayed and neutered so they can be sold on the pet market is the cause of all their tumors and hormone-related health complications. This is very sad news for ferret lovers, as this means that ferrets cannot be kept as pets. Keeping them intact and not having them spayed or neutered is not a viable answer for most owners either because a ferret’s reproductive system is such that if they are not bred, the females can develop aplastic anemia caused by too much circulating estrogen and die.

There are very few ferret breeders anymore, and the big commercial ferret mills like Marshall Farms, spay and neuter all of their ferrets for resale before they are 6 weeks old so they can get them into the pet stores while they are still cute and cuddly and easier to sell. If Marshall Farms cared about ferrets at all, they would stop the practice of breeding ferrets and selling them for pets, because as recent studies now indicate, these ferrets will only get sick and die before they reach 3-4 years of age, which is only half of their normal life expectancy. It’s not only cruel and unethical to keep breeding and selling animals you know will only get sick and die before they are middle-aged, but it’s also costly and heartbreaking for the ferret owners who fall in love with these wonderful, happy companions. Marshall Farms should be banned from continuing to breed ferrets on the grounds of animal and pet owner cruelty; after all, how can you continue to knowingly sell sick animals to caring people in good conscience or any conscience at all? Yet Marshall Farms, the largest ferret breeder in the U.S, still continues to pump out sickly animals for unsuspecting animal lovers to purchase. If that wasn’t bad enough, Marshall Farms breeds ferrets and dogs specifically to be tested on and suffer horrible atrocities at the hands of lab experiments for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies.

Marshall has been criticized by ferret lovers and animal rights groups over the years for having sick ferrets due to inbreeding, genetic issues, and the practice of spaying and neutering them at too early an age. Other criticisms are directed at the health care and living conditions of Marshall Farms’ pet mills. Some groups have accused large-scale breeders like Marshall of separating ferret kits from their mothers and sending them to pet stores too young; before they are fully weaned. Over the years, ferret purchasers have been warned to look for such signs in ferret kits when purchasing them from pet stores as diarrhea, lethargy, drainage or mucus coming from the eyes or nose, green colored feces, as common signs of a sick kit and to avoid purchasing animals with these symptoms. I have gone to pet stores in the past and seen ferret kits with these symptoms myself, so I know sick animals are in the pet stores and being purchased by people who don’t know any better.

The inhumane pet ferret industry starts with pet mills like Marshall Farms, but it doesn’t end there. Pet stores sell back to Marshall Farms older kits which are not sold after a certain amount of time and they are then euthanized. Due to this practice, as well as Marshall Farms’ expansion into the sale of ferret supplies, accessories, and merchandise, many ferret advocates protest their unethical conflict of interest. In essence, Marshall Farms breeds ferrets and then later kills the ones that don’t sell; animals are just a commodity to them, not a living, breathing creature that feels pain and suffering.

My big question to Marshall Farms and any other ferret mill is this: How can you knowingly sell people sick ferrets that have been proven in 90% of all cases to develop tumors and die well before their time, and still say you care about ferrets? The more I delved into the domestic ferret industry, the more it sickened me to my very core and I vowed to stop supporting the breeding of sick animals and the exploitation of unsuspecting future pet owners by purchasing or supporting the commercial pet industry in any way, shape, or form. Take it from someone who has witnessed the suffering of ferrets over many years: it may be difficult to give up on your hope of having a ferret as a pet because they are so darn cute, but it’s 10 times more difficult to fall in love with them and then watch them suffer the horrors inflicted on them by the commercial pet industry. If you love ferrets, don’t buy one! You are only supporting Marshall Farm’s and other pet mills, breeding of diseased and sick animals whose life expectancy is cut short by domesticating them, and subsidizing the suffering of millions of animals for no good reason except that you want one. Not to mention, you will only get your heart broken when your new fuzzy little friend gets sick and costs you thousands of dollars in vet bills only to die prematurely anyway because there is no cure or surgery to stop endocrine disorders in ferrets. Yes, this means the veterinary profession will also be taking advantage of you and your love for your pet when they start telling you they can surgically remove the tumors and your ferret will be fine. This is not true. In the majority of cases, surgery or medications may prolong your ferret’s life briefly, but the tumors will just recur or develop somewhere else in a matter of months.