Which type of ferret food is best?

Last updated: Jul 9, 2021 (3 months ago)

Is kibble good enough? Or should I feed raw? What's the difference between frozen, freeze-dried, and air-dried raw?

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#1. Frozen / Freeze-Dried Raw

Frozen raw and freeze-dried raw are the healthiest foods to feed your ferret. Ferrets are obligate carnivores and are very sensitive to their diet. They need something that is high in meat concentration, with no grains, starches, or peas.

Raw foods are more expensive than kibble, but they will keep your ferret healthier and happier. Isn't that worth it? If you say you would spend anything to save your pet during a vet visit, why not spend anything to keep them healthier to begin with?

These two types of raw are basically identical except the way they're stored. With freeze-dried raw, you need to add water to rehydrate it before feeding. Frozen raw is already hydrated, it just needs to be thawed.

Pros:

  • High meat concentration - usually 95%+ meat
  • Usually grain- and starch-free - prevents insulinoma
  • Usually pea-free - prevents kidney/bladder stones
  • Provides moisture - good for hydration and dental health
  • Less poop - they are processing more of what they are eating which means less waste. Poops are also generally less smelly
  • (Freeze-dried) Easy to store

Cons:

  • Expensive - (but this is a bullshit excuse not to feed raw)
  • Most effort to prepare and serve - have to thaw or hydrate, prepare 2-3x per day, throw out leftovers
  • (Frozen) Most difficult to store - limited room in freezer, problematic if there is a power outage or emergency
  • Difficult to find - most chains won't carry them. Support small businesses! Many local specialty pet stores will carry them. Or order online. Frozen, of course, can only be purchased locally.

Frozen raw ferret food chart Freeze-dried raw ferret food chart


#2. Air-Dried Raw

Air-dried raw is kind of the "best of both worlds." It's easy to prepare and serve, just keep their food bowl filled! However it is very comparable to frozen raw in terms of health. The only nutritional downside is that it doesn't provide natural moisture, which they need for dental health and hydration.

If you want to go with air-dried food as your primary diet, you should at least supplement with wet food (raw or canned) 2-3 times per week.

Pros:

  • High meat concentration - usually 95%+ meat
  • Usually grain- and starch-free - prevents insulinoma
  • Usually pea-free - prevents kidney/bladder stones
  • Less poop - they are processing more of what they are eating which means less waste. Poops are also generally less smelly
  • Easy to store
  • Easy to serve

Cons:

  • Expensive - (but this is a bullshit excuse not to feed it)
  • No moisture - needed for dental health and hydration
  • Difficult to find - most chains won't carry them. Support small businesses! Many local specialty pet stores will carry them. Or order online.

Air-dried raw ferret food chart


#3. Canned Wet Foods

Canned foods have many of the benefits of wet raw foods, but since the meat is cooked, some of the nutrients are lost. However, they are usually a much healthier option than kibble. And it is a myth that kibble keeps teeth clean by scraping them, moisture is more important for dental health.

The big problem with canned foods is that they come in a wide range of qualities. There are some really great ones like Ziwipeak, and some awful ones, so you have to be careful. If only there were a website that could tell you which ones were safe to feed! Oh wait, you're on it!

Pros:

  • Higher meat concentration - generally higher meat % than kibble
  • Grain-free, starch-free options - prevents insulinoma
  • Pea-free options - prevents kidney/bladder stones
  • Provides moisture - good for hydration and dental health
  • Less poop - they are processing more of what they are eating which means less waste. Poops are also generally less smelly
  • Easy to store
  • Easy to find

Cons:

  • Cooking meat reduces some of the nutrients that benefit ferrets
  • Many low quality canned foods, difficult to find good ones without guidance
  • Medium effort to prepare and serve - have to prepare 2-3x per day, throw out leftovers

Canned ferret food chart


#4. Grain-Free, Starch-Free, Pea-Free Kibble

If you absolutely must feed kibble, please go with grain-free, starch-free, pea-free kibbles. They are still not ideal, but should keep your ferret much healthier than cheap kibbles, with only a slightly higher investment.

If you can, go a step further - supplement with frozen or canned wet food 2-3x per week.

Pros:

  • Cheaper than raw
  • Grain- and starch-free - prevents insulinoma
  • Pea-free - prevents kidney/bladder stones
  • Easy to store
  • Easy to serve

Cons:

  • Low meat concentration - usually a step up from cheap kibbles, but not as good as raw
  • Cooking meat reduces some of the nutrients that benefit ferrets
  • No moisture - needed for dental health and hydration
  • Difficult to find - not as difficult as raw foods, but most chains won't carry high quality kibbles. Need to find a small specialty store or order online.

Ferret kibble chart


#5. Other Kibble

Hopefully you found this website because you're seriously trying to find a healthy diet for your ferret. If that's the case, kibble is not your answer. All kibbles contain non-meat ingredients to bind them together into small pieces. Anything non-meat will harm your ferret, especially grains, starches, and peas.

Pros:

  • Cheapest up front - but it will cost you more in the long run with vet bills
  • Easy to store
  • Easy to serve
  • Easy to find - chains are all too happy to carry this crap

Did you notice who is left out of this "pros" list? Your ferrets. The only benefits to feeding cheap kibbles are to you, if you're lazy and cheap. The benefits to your ferrets? None.

Cons:

  • Low meat concentration - ferrets are obligate carnivores. They cannot process non-meats
  • Cooking meat reduces some of the nutrients that benefit ferrets
  • High in grains and/or starches - causes insulinoma, which slowly kills your ferret
  • Grain-free kibbles often replace the grains with peas - this is even worse, because it quickly kills your ferret
  • No moisture - needed for dental health and hydration
  • More poop - more garbage in means more garbage out