Ferrets can eat a wide variety of foods outside of their regular kibble, and it’s often recommended to vary their diet with treats and snacks. However, you have to be careful as to what you feed them. Can ferrets eat potatoes, or can potatoes be toxic to ferrets? Here is everything you should know about feeding potatoes to your pet ferret.
Potatoes are not safe for ferrets. They are extremely high in carbohydrates and starches, which aren’t good for the short and simple digestive system of a ferret. Ferrets are carnivores. In the wild, they only eat smaller animals for a complete diet. Therefore, you shouldn’t give them anything other than their natural diet while they live with you.
Ferrets are natural hunters and foragers. If you are careless and leave food scraps around, they are likely to follow behind and eat your leftovers. This can be very unhealthy for your pet in the long run, especially as humans’ food is rarely healthy for a pet ferret’s digestive system.
Potatoes aren’t entirely toxic to ferrets, however. They should be avoided as much as possible, but you can’t always stop your ferret from stealing food or finding scraps on the ground. If your ferret got into the potatoes and ate some, there are steps you can take.
There are many reasons why potatoes are bad for ferrets. The main reason is that they can’t digest the complex carbohydrates in potatoes. While an accidental potato will not kill your ferret, it can be dangerous for multiple reasons. Here are a few of the reasons why potatoes are bad for ferrets:
- High in carbohydrates
- No protein (which ferrets need to survive)
- Ferrets should not eat any vegetables
- Causes indigestion and pain
- Larger chunks of potato could get caught in the digestive tract
- Could cause diarrhea or constipation
- Contain sugars, which ferrets cannot digest
While potatoes are not dangerous to humans, they can be highly detrimental to the ferret’s health. In the short term, ferrets can choke, get constipated, and be sick. Long-term effects include heart disease, diabetes, and even death. This also applies to other carb-dense foods like oatmeal.
If your ferret ate potatoes without your knowledge, don’t panic. The odds are that your pet will be sick for a few days and then feel better. However, it depends on how many potatoes your ferret ate and how it was prepared.
In any case, you should probably contact your veterinarian. They know your pet and your lifestyle best and can offer the most personalized advice. Any unexpected dietary change could mean stress and illness for your pet, and it’s best to have a professional to help.
If your ferret only ate a small amount of potato, you probably don’t have to worry too much. Unless your ferret is a baby, a senior ferret, or has other health conditions, they might be a little sick for a few days before they feel alright again. However, your pet’s body will readjust soon.
A more significant amount of potato probably requires veterinary care. This is especially true if the potato was in the form of potato chips, french fries, or any other processed and fried potato. The extra fats are dangerous for a ferret’s digestive system.
In most cases, a ferret will naturally work through any amount of potato accidentally consumed. As long as it’s not a common mistake and you feed your ferret well, do your best to avoid potatoes. Put them away and close the cabinet doors when your ferret is out, so the pet doesn’t forage for food it shouldn’t have.
All types of potatoes, raw or cooked, are bad for ferrets. Meat-eating ferrets should not consume carbohydrates or sugars in potatoes. Ferrets should have a healthy diet of raw meats and bones or veterinary-approved kibbles.
When in doubt, keep your ferret away from potatoes or any vegetable.
Raw potatoes might seem like the simplest way to prepare potatoes for ferrets. However, potatoes are dangerous for pet ferrets, even in their raw form. The hard, uncooked part of the potato could get caught in a ferret’s throat or digestive tract and cause problems. Even if digested, it will give the ferret health issues later on.
Even though mashed potatoes won’t get stuck in a ferret’s throat or digestive tract like a raw potato might, they can be even more dangerous. Mashed potatoes are often made with butter, milk, or cream, which are high in fat. Ferrets cannot have large amounts of fat.
Sweet potatoes are just as dangerous to ferrets as regular potatoes. They contain higher levels of starch and sugar than regular potatoes and pose a larger risk of diabetes and obesity in ferrets. Avoid sweet potatoes just as you would avoid regular potatoes with your ferret.
French fries are even more dangerous than regular potatoes. Not only are they more attractive to ferrets, but they can also cause heart disease and diabetes easier. French fries are fried in oil and are extremely high in fat. This makes them even more dangerous to pet ferrets.
Potato chips, like french fries, are extra harmful to a ferret’s digestive system. They have all the natural dangers of potatoes and are fried or baked in oils. The extra fat is hazardous to such a small animal with a short digestive system.
You should never feed your ferret potatoes, as they can cause long-term health issues and even death. Ferrets weren’t meant to eat vegetables of any kind, and they thrive on a diet that suits their natural digestive systems. Feed them kibble or treats that are specifically formulated for ferrets, like the kind made by the brand Marshall. If your ferret ate potatoes without your knowledge, contact your veterinarian immediately.