Healthy Ferret Treats
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We all love giving treats to our ferrets – there is so much joy in watching them enjoy a tasty morsel. However, something very important to keep in mind – treats are given primarily for the human’s pleasure. Ferrets do not NEED treats, but as humans we derive great pleasure from giving them treats. A healthy treat given in moderation is perfectly fine, but giving your ferret unhealthy treats or excessive treats can lead to significant health problems including throwing off the balance of their diet leading to nutrition deficiencies, and obesity from eating too much “junk” food or extra calories.
Treats can be a great way to provide positive reinforcement for training purposes, giving medications, and for a light snack. Any treat you give should be something that is HEALTHY for the ferret and that aligns with their natural carnivorous diet. Treats containing sugars, chemical additives, or plant products are NOT appropriate for ferrets.
Below are some Do’s and Don’ts for giving treats to your ferrets.
Salmon oil is one of the best treats you can give your ferrets. Not only do they love it, but it is a fantastic supplement and is easy to give with meds or from a dropper bottle. It can be tricky to get your ferrets to accept the flavor of Salmon Oil at first, and can be helpful to initially dilute it with a treat that they already like. For example you could mix it with EVO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) or FerreTone, and then wean them off of the EVO/Tone gradually until they will accept Salmon Oil straight. [Note: While we do not typically recommend the use of Tone, if your ferrets accept it it can be a helpful tool to introduce your ferrets to Salmon Oil in an effort to ditch the less healthy treats.]
Salmon Oil is rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids, which are great for skin and coat health, as well as heart and brain health. It can be added over food, drizzled on a plate, or given via syringe to help in giving medications. It can be mixed into Vaseline to make ferrets more willing to eat it when doing a Blockage Protocol or when in need of a laxative. It can also be used to help entice them to try new foods by drizzling it on top.
One of the most popular and convenient ways to use Salmon Oil is to give it from a dropper bottle. This allows you to give them treats daily, without giving them too much because they only get a drop or two at a time.
Recommended Dose for Salmon Oil is up to 1tsp per ferret per week (preferably spread over the course of the week). If your ferret has soft stools, you are giving too much oil and need to cut back.
When purchasing Salmon Oil, look for a reputable brand without any extra additives. Many Salmon Oils use Rosemary Extract as a preservative. Contrary to popular belief, while Rosemary OIL can cause problems, the EXTRACT does not pose a significant health concern. HOWEVER, we highly encourage you to read our article on Rosemary Extract and make that decision for yourself.
Two very popular and reputable brands of Salmon Oil (click on names for link) are:
Yummy Chummy Salmon Oil: Made with fresh, wild-caught Alaskan Salmon and processed in Anchorage Alaska. This is an extremely high quality and affordable product. Note that it does use Rosemary Extract as a preservative.
Grizzly Salmon Oil: One of the most popular brands. Grizzly does not have any additional additives and does NOT use Rosemary Extract
If you are unable to find a good source of Salmon Oil, Fish Oil is also a good, healthy treat for your ferret. Fish Oil can be made from many different varieties of fish and quality varies significantly from product to product. Be sure to read the ingredients and look for products without additional additive ingredients.
Note: Fish Oil Gelcaps for humans can be used as a Fish Oil source for ferrets, but you MUST puncture the gelcap and squeeze the oil out. NEVER give your ferret the outer gel capsule or allow them access to the capsule as this can cause a Blockage!
Whole Whisked Raw Egg
Another great treat for your ferrets. We recommend giving up to one (chicken) egg per ferret per week as part of a regular diet, or up to 2-3 eggs per week as tolerated during shedding season. A whole, raw egg is one of natures most perfectly balanced protein sources and is packed with important nutrients.
Note: When feeding raw egg, it is important to feed the WHOLE egg, or the Yolks only. Never feed Egg-Whites alone as over time this can lead to a significant biotin deficiency, causing major health problems. Yolks alone are acceptable; however, the perfect balance of the Yolks PLUS the Whites in a whole egg is what helps to make egg such a nutritious and well balanced food. To read more, see our Forum Thread about why Raw Eggs Are Safe.
For reference when determining how much of another egg to give, one whole chicken egg is roughly 3-4 Tablespoons. See this page for conversions.
– Quail eggs are rich in nutrients and a very popular treat. Their small size allows them to be used more frequently without overdoing the egg content of the diet. Given whole they are fun for ferrets to roll around and crack open.
– Duck eggs: Many ferrets have difficulties with how incredibly rich duck eggs are. Also, the large size means that the entire egg should not be fed in one sitting. If you decide to try duck eggs, we recommend starting with a very small amount of the yolk first to test how your ferret tolerates it. If they handle a small amount of yolk well, then the next meal you can whisk some yolks and whites together and try offering a slightly larger amount.
Smelt Fish or Raw Prawns
Raw Meat Slivers
Freeze Dried Meat
Dried Rabbit Ears
Raw Squid (Calamari) or Octopus Slivers
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – EVO
Other Processed Treats: N-Bones, Bandit Treats