Can Ferrets Eat Dog Food? (What You Need to Know)

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Ferrets are becoming more popular as house pets, and finding food for these exotic creatures seems to be challenging for some owners, depending also on your location. In fact, ferret food isn’t always available like a dog or cat food.

So, you might be wondering, can ferrets eat dog food?

That’s what we’re going to discuss in this article!

Ready? Let’s dive in!

Can a ferret eat dog food?

No, it is not advised to feed a ferret dog food. Ferrets are obligate carnivores and require a diet high in meat, protein, and fat.

Dog food lacks the necessary protein and fat content for ferrets and contains vegetable protein and fiber that ferrets cannot digest, potentially leading to health issues12

It is recommended to feed ferrets high-quality commercial ferret food or a diet consisting of meat protein, such as cooked eggs, bits of chicken, turkey, lamb, raw beef or lamb, and raw meaty bones

Why is dog food bad for ferrets?

The biggest reason why dog food is bad for ferrets is that it does not contain the proper nutrients that they need. Dogs are omnivores which means they can eat both meat and plants based food. Ferrets, on the other hand, are obligate carnivores which means that they can only digest meat.

Why is taurine important in ferrets?

Taurine is an important amino acid for ferrets (and cats) that can’t be produced by their bodies. It’s found in animal tissues and helps with nerve function, vision, and heart health.

Most dog foods do not contain taurine simply because they can make their own. While on the other hand, ferrets can not make their own taurine, so it is something they need to get from their diet.

Keep in mind that if a ferret eats dog food, in the long term could develop a taurine deficiency.

A taurine deficiency can cause a whole host of health problems in ferrets, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Blindness
  • Reproductive failure
  • Growth problems

So as you can see, it’s important that ferrets get enough taurine in their diet, and dog food can not provide that.

Pro tip: Another nutrient that ferrets need is vitamin B12. This vitamin helps with cell production and metabolism and can be found in animal meat.

Plant-based food

Dog food is higher in grains and carbohydrates than a ferret’s diet.

While these ingredients are fine for dogs, they can be harmful to ferrets. The nutrients in dog food are not easily absorbed by ferrets and can cause health problems.

Some of the health problems that can be caused by feeding dog food to ferrets include:

  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Fur problems
  • Malnutrition

So, can ferrets eat dog food at all?

Technically, yes. If your ferret manages to get a hold of some dog food, it probably won’t kill them. However, we do not recommend feeding them dog food as their primary source of nutrition.

So as you can see, there are a few reasons why feeding your ferret dog food is not a good idea. If you’re looking for food that will meet all of their nutritional needs, we recommend checking out the list of best ferret foods.

Ferret digestive tract system

The cecum is a part of the digestive system that helps with the breaking down and absorption of nutrients in plant-based food.

Since ferrets don’t have a cecum, they can’t digest plant-based food as well as dogs can. This is why it’s important to make sure that their diet consists mostly of

Their digestive system is shorter than other animals, meaning that they lack the ability to properly break down plant-based food.

While your pet ferret may be able to sample a wide variety of foods, there are some things that you should avoid feeding them. You can find some of the food that is best to avoid below.

  • Grapes
  • Dairy product
  • Chocolate
  • Dog food
  • Onion
  • Fruits

The problem with feeding your ferret dog food is that it likely doesn’t contain all of the nutrients that your ferret needs to stay healthy.

Additionally, the size and shape of a ferret’s digestive tract can make it difficult for them to digest some of the ingredients in dog food.

Feeding ferrets raw meat

There are a few benefits to feeding ferrets raw meat as part of their diet. First, it can help improve the health of their skin and coat. Second, it can provide them with more energy and vitality.

Additionally, it’s important to introduce new foods slowly and in small amounts at first to avoid upsetting your ferret’s stomach. Start with just a few bites of raw meat per day, and then increase the amount gradually over time.

What can I feed my ferret if I run out of food?

If you run out of ferret food and can’t make it to the store right away, there are a few things you can give them as a temporary measure. Small amounts of:

  • Canned tuna
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Turkey necks

Can ferret eat dog treats?

As a whole, is better to stay away from letting your ferret eat dog treats. For example, some dog treats contain chocolate or raisins, which can be toxic to ferrets. So if you’re unsure, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and avoid giving your ferret any dog treats.

What about mice? interested in knowing more about your ferret’s food diet? check out this article where I explain in detail if your ferret can eat a mice and if it should be part of their natural diet

How do I know if my ferret has eaten dog food?

The best way to know if your ferret has eaten dog food is to monitor its eating habits. If you notice that they are no longer eating as much as they normally do, or if their stools are loose, it’s possible that they have eaten something that doesn’t fit their diet. In this case, it’s best to take them to the vet.

Another way to tell if your ferret has eaten dog food is by their behavior. If they seem lethargic or uninterested in playing, it’s possible that they aren’t feeling well. Again, it’s best to take them to the vet for a check-up.

What happens if your ferret eats dog food?

If your ferret eats dog food on a regular basis, it could develop liver disease, malnutrition, or gastrointestinal issues. If you think your ferret has eaten dog food, it’s important to take them to the vet right away.

Can ferrets eat cat food?

The answer is yes. Ferrets can eat cat food. However, it is important to note that not all cat food is suitable for your ferret’s diet. Some cat food may be too high in fat or protein, for a ferret’s delicate digestive system. It’s always best to consult with your vet before feeding your ferret any cat food.

When it comes to can ferrets eat dog food, the answer is no. Dog food does not contain all of the nutrients that a ferret needs to stay healthy. Additionally, the size and shape of a ferret’s digestive tract can make it


If you’re in the US, there are a few websites that will ship food right to your door. And if you’re ever in doubt about what your ferret should be eating, just ask your veterinarian; they’ll have plenty of advice and suggestions for you. Ferrets may be small, but their diet is anything but simple!

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