While most ferrets like to eat dog food, the real question is, “Is it safe for them to share the dog food together with your pooches?”
Pet owners with multiple pets living in the same house usually ask this question. “Is it safe for my pet ferret to eat dog food?” During feeding time, the ferret might sneak up to the dog’s food bowl and eat what your dog is eating. Or it may also be snacking on the leftovers your dog has left.
So to answer that question, the answer is “no”. Though it may be okay at first, but as time passes, the effects of eating dog food will show up. Here are the reasons why it is not safe for your tiny friend to eat dog food.
Getting Proper Nutrients
The first and most important thing to remember about ferrets is that they are carnivores, which means that they can only be able to properly digest or process meat as their source of nutrition and that they lack many enzymes the other animals have that enables them to process other food sources, such as carbohydrates and others.
While dogs, on the other hand are like humans, which implies they are omnivores and can eat and process a wide variety of foods to keep them strong and healthy. Although your ferret may be enjoying snacking on the dog foods that they stole from your pooches, their tiny bodies are not designed to extract and digest the nutrients found in the dog food. It is just like us humans, though you can just go outside and eat grass found anywhere, your body can’t extract the nutrients found in it, while the goats and other herbivorous animals can eat all they want and extract the nutrients they need to live.
The Digestive Tract Size of Your Pet Ferret
The next issue for our tiny little friend from eating dog food is their digestive tract. Compared to their long body size, the ferrets actually have a small and short digestive tract. Now this solves the mystery why your tiny ferret fills up the litter box so fast.
With the ferret’s small and short digestive tract and its small body, there isn’t much space inside and what goes in must go out in just as little as four hours. Because their digestive tract is made to process meat only, it only extracts the nutrients and proteins found in meat and gets rid of anything else other than meat.
When the food contains fibers, sugars, starches, carbohydrates and other fillers/extenders found in dog food, the ferret wastes energy in trying to process the food that he can’t process thus preventing him to process what foods he should process. And just like the old comparison to us humans, though you can eat grass if you want to, your digestive tract will just waste time and energy and space trying to process the grass you just ate.
Nutritional Needs Are Different
The next reason why dog food is not good for a ferret is because of their nutritional needs. The amount of protein needed by ferrets is higher than cats and dogs, as well as the appropriate levels of amino acids which is the building blocks of protein. Another important building block that ferrets need is Taurine. It is needed for the normal eye and heart function.
Dog foods lack enough Taurine, which leads to congestive heart failure, even blindness or worst, death. The lack of other amino acids that the ferret needs in its diets can also cause urinary tract stones.
And because the ferrets have a high metabolism rate, they need a lot of fat, which is also much higher than cats and dogs. This high fat content cannot be found in dog food. These fats needed by the ferret help store some of the critical fat soluble vitamins needed by them. If your ferret lacks the vitamins it needs, it can result in stunted growth, anemia, night blindness, lack of coordination, a weak immune system and clotting disorders.
Ferrets Should Not Eat Dog Food
The nutrients needed by a ferret is very different from the nutrients needed by dogs. Dog food cannot give what the nutrients needed by ferrets the most. Balancing the nutrition the ferret needs is complicated and cannot be done with dog food. Too much or even not enough nutrients will lead to disease or other health problems to the ferret. In order to avoid health problems, the diet of the ferret must be the right food that meets his specific needs.
What to Do When Your Ferret Steals Dog Food?
What to do when your pet ferret tries to steal some dog food? One or two pieces won’t do any harm to your ferret. But if it becomes a regular thing that your ferret do, then you must prevent that.
Secure your little one in a ferret cage or put him in another room away from the dog and wait until the dog finishes eating. Be sure to leave no leftovers in the dog’s bowl. That is the most effective and easiest way to prevent your pet ferret from eating dog foods.