We all love our ferrets. They are great little pets that are playful and social. One problem with newer ferret owners is that they might not know what ferrets can eat and what they cannot.
This article will help you understand if your ferret can eat oatmeal, so you no longer have to worry about whether or not this tasty breakfast food will make your ferret sick.
So here is the answer to your question, can ferrets eat oatmeal – No! Ferrets should never eat oatmeal.
Why Is Oatmeal Bad for your Ferret?
Well, ferrets are strict meat-eaters, which means they should only eat meat. Their whole body is designed to process meat only. Their teeth and digestive system/stomach are not intended for plant/grain consumption.
Oats (Avena sativa) is a whole-grain cereal – Therefore, precisely what your ferret should not eat!
Your ferret’s body treats oatmeal the same way it would treat any other grain. It won’t be adequately digested and could cause a blockage of the intestines. The oat that does get processed turns into glucose. Too much glucose in your ferrets’ system can lead to diabetes.
What Should I Not Feed my Ferret
That’s an easy one: Anything that is not a meat-based product should not be on your ferrets’ diet plan.
That means no fruits, no grains, and no vegetables! Yes, none of the foods we would consider healthy are recommended for ferrets.
Fruits are bad for your furry friend because of the glucose content in them. Ferrets are prone to diabetes, and quite a few develop insulinoma – a cancer of the pancreatic cells.
Most ferrets with diabetes mellitus suffer from hyperglycemia, a condition in which blood sugar is high due to improper insulin management. The risk of diabetes is significantly increased by obesity – yet another reason to look after your ferrets’ calorie intake!
Symptoms of diabetes:
“The signs and symptoms of diabetes mellitus in ferrets typically include the wasting away of muscle mass; excessive thirst (polydipsia) and need to urinate (polyuria); weight loss even with normal appetite; unusually high blood sugar levels; lethargy; and depression. As the disease progresses, many ferrets lose the ability to eat and develop problems with anorexia and even increased or enlarged liver and spleen.”
Symptoms of insulinoma:
“Clinical signs may include pawing at the mouth, “stargazing,” weakness (often seen in the hind end), weight loss, tremors, collapse, abnormal behavior, depression, lethargy, and confusion. The symptoms can progress to include seizures and hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) coma. “
As said before – The digestive tract of ferrets is not made to process plant material. This means plant material is not digested correctly. The remaining fiber could cause a blockage of the intestinal tract.
A common misconception is that vegetables are always healthy. And this may be true for us humans. However, vegetables have their downside for your ferret. True carnivores, ferrets are unable to handle diets containing more than 4% fiber.
Vegetables, fruits, and dairy products may produce diarrhea and erratic swings in blood sugar. You better feed your ferret raw meat or good commercial ferret food. A ferret-specific diet is always the best choice.
What Should I feed my ferret Instead?
Fresh raw meat or a ferret-specific commercial diet.
Here are some examples of meats:
- game birds
- chicken breast
- chicken wings
- bones (not cooked)
- organs (liver)
- whole prey (feeder mice/chicks)
Basically, if your ferret is used to eating raw meat, they will eat almost every type of meat. The trick is to offer your ferret variety! Be careful if you decide to feed your ferret bones, as these could chip and splinter in their mouths. Additionally, ferrets should always be supplied with a supply of clean freshwater to drink from.
Several brands are specialized in ferret-specific dry foods. The advantage of kibble is that it is easier to store, cheaper, and more convenient than buying fresh meat.
When choosing food for your furry friend, try to find a food that contains at least 40% animal protein and no more than 4% fiber (the best would be no fiber at all!).
Ferrets, originally from Northern Europe, are strict carnivores and need a meat-based diet. They are not able to digest cereal grains properly and could develop digestive problems. An improper diet could lead to obesity and result in diabetes mellitus or insulinoma – a cancer of the pancreas.
That’s why it is not recommended to feed ferrets with anything other than meat. Some everyday food items that are prohibited include vegetables, fruits, and grains. Oatmeal and other grains are definitely bad for your ferret.
Somehow related and good to know:
How Do I Give a Ferret an Oath Bath?
- All you need is a sock and regular instant oats. Put the oats into the sock. After running the bathwater a few times, soak and squeeze the sock.
- A shampoo is not necessary for your ferret. Using a shampoo, the skin is stripped of its natural oils, making it very sensitive.
- After the oat juice has been squeezed from the sock, use that water to gently rub the ferret.
- Leave the oat-filled sock in the water during bath time!
- Ferrets cannot tolerate frequent bathing. It is only recommended to bathe ferrets once every year or when they appear dirty.
- Each time a ferret bathes, it loses some of its natural oils. And since ferrets overproduce oils to come back to their natural state, bathing too frequently can actually lead to smelly ferrets.