With those sparkling little eyes staring longingly up from that adorably fuzzy face, it can be hard to resist the urge to indulge your ferret with the tempting treat the little trickster is trying to tease out of you. But remember that as with everything in life, moderation is key; no more than 5% of your ferret’s total diet should consist of treats, and not all treats are created equal. As obligate carnivores, ferrets have very specific nutritional needs that differ from dogs, cats and especially humans. They cannot eat the same type of food or treats that you or even your other pets eat on a daily basis and remain perfectly healthy. Ferrets need a high protein, high fat and low fiber diet with the main protein sources coming from meat ingredients. They do not digest fruit, vegetables, grains/grains or fiber well, and should avoid sweet/sugary foods which can lead to dental problems, obesity and an increased risk of insulinoma.

The following is a list of some great treat options to offer:

1) Meat: Freeze-dried, cooked or raw (If not already part of their primary diet) Chicken, turkey, beef, salmon, organ meats such as chicken livers or hearts, salt-free jerky (avoid spicy meats or processed meats such as luncheon meat, salami or bacon).

2) Small prey (If not already part of their primary diet) – mice, chickens, quail, rats, rabbits – preferably pre-killed or thawed from frozen to prevent injury to your ferret.

3) Bugs (live/dried) Earthworm. Mealworm. Crickets. Cockroaches. Live bait.

4) Baby food with chicken or turkey – Ferrets can become addicted to this! It also works well as a temporary substitute for cabbage chunks if your ferret is sick or recovering from surgery and is a picky eater.

5) Egg: raw or cooked unseasoned (remove skin)

6) Oils – Salmon, emu, cod liver, extra virgin olive or extra virgin coconut oil.

Vitamin supplements such as FerreTone, Linatone, Furatone, FerretLax, Laxatone, Petromalt should be avoided when dealing with healthy ferrets. Vitamin A toxicity can result from too much of the “tone” supplements.

7) Commercial ferret treats – Treats of the highest quality are free of all sugar or soy ingredients. Here are some good ones:

– Wysong Daily Dream Ferret Treats

– Stella & Chewys freeze-dried

– PureBites freeze-dried

The following are also OK in moderation, but are less preferred due to trace amounts of sugar and/or soy:

– N-Bone Ferret chew treats

– Cheweasel edible chew toys

– Fuzzy’s Foamy Fries

– Brown’s natural chicken strips ferret treat

Avoid most other “ferret treats” sold in pet stores; many are high in sugar, have fruits and vegetables as the main ingredients, and almost no protein.

Not feed list:

Vegetables, fruit, dried fruit (including raisins), alcohol, sugary drinks or juices, coffee and tea products, garlic or shallots, cereals, dairy products, seeds and nuts (may cause blockages), chocolate, candy, fruit snacks, peanut butter, natural chews which are not intended for ferrets (such as cowhide, pig’s ears or rawhide – can cause intestinal blockage in ferrets), dog or cat treats.

When in doubt – don’t let your ferret eat it, even if he or she wants to! Remember… ferrets will eat a piece of deadly styrofoam or plastic as quickly as a tasty piece of meat – so obviously they aren’t always the best judges of what is or isn’t good for them. You have to be the smart one in the family, and keep them on the safe path to a long and healthy life; even if it means preventing them from eating things they are absolutely convinced they want to eat. Being the bad cop and limiting the ferret’s treats will pay off when you get to enjoy the benefit of your bouncy, bright-eyed bandit company for years to come.

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