Ferret Food Chart
Last updated: (2 weeks ago)
Frozen raw and freeze-dried raw (FDR) are basically identical, except the way they're stored. FDR just needs to be hydrated by adding water, while frozen raw needs to be thawed.
These two types of wet raw foods are the healthiest diets you can feed your ferrets. They are more expensive up front and more effort, but will keep your ferrets much healthier and save you money and heart ache in the long run.
Air-dried raw is a healthier alternative to kibble. But like kibble, it can be served straight from the bag! It's also great for transitioning since it can be mixed with kibble.
It generally a) contains no fruits or veggies, b) has limited ingredients, and c) has high protein and fat content. It provides most of the benefits of a raw diet except moisture. But it is a lot easier to prepare and less messy.
Like all raw foods, it is more expensive up front, but it can help you avoid costly issues like insulinoma treatment or bladder-stone removal surgery in the future.
Canned foods are often overlooked as a diet option for ferrets. But in general, a good canned food is much healthier than kibble. There are canned food options that are completely or almost grain- and starch-free. Canned foods also have a much higher meat concentration usually.
Another benefit of canned foods is that they provide moisture, which is essential for dental health and hydration.
Kibble can generally be left out for days without spoiling. However, it needs something (usually a grain) to bind all of the ingredients together to form its solid shape. Therefore most kibbles are high in fruit, veggie, and/or grain content, which is not great for ferrets.
Even the "good" kibbles contain such ingredients, which increase the likelihood of insulinoma, a form of pancreatic cancer which causes low blood sugar.
Notice how raw diets clearly advertise their meat percentage ("96% meat, organs, and bone" on Ziwipeak for example) but kibbles do not. They hide this information, which is why I don't have it for most of these foods yet.
Recently, many kibble makers have been touting their "grain-free" diets as a healthier alternative. However, these diets usually substitute the grains with peas, which can be deadly to ferrets. Peas have been linked to kidney and bladder stones which can cause discomfort and a painful death.
Any kibble with even a trace amount of peas immediately receives a score of 0 and will not be recommended or linked to.
Treat scoring is based on how appropriate it is for a carnivore. The more meat, the better. If the meat % is unknown, then higher protein and fat + meat-based ingredients help it to score higher. The protein-to-fat ratio is unimportant for treats.
I do believe that a small amount of "inappropriate" treats in moderation is ok, as long as they're not actively harmful (e.g. containing sugars or peas). But the keyword is moderation. And ferrets tend to go crazy for biologically appropriate treats like freeze-dried chicken, I don't think they are "missing out" on anything if you stick with purely healthy treats.