How To Make A Ferret Lose Weight!

In this article, we will be taking a look at how to make a ferret lose weight. Weight issues are relatively common in domesticated ferrets, it is so common in fact that we recently published a post on how to get your ferret to gain weight due to seeing so many people asking about it.

The weight issues in your ferret are almost always down to the actions of the owner rather than the ferret. Ferret owners feed their pets an unsuitable food or food that they are not tracking the calories of. Over time, this results in the ferret gaining weight, becoming unhealthy, and having a shorter life expectancy.

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How To Make A Ferret Lose Weight

When wanting your pet to lose weight you have to manipulate the calculation of calories in vs calories out to your advantage. In an effort to lose weight, you want your pet to be in a slight calorie deficit.

This can be done by either increasing its activity levels and thus the number of calories your ferret burns each day or by restricting the amount of food it has each day slightly. Although recommendations change from source to source, they usually range between a reduction of 10-20 percent of the usual calories.

Usually, it is easy to restrict your ferret’s available food but increasing its activity level can be a challenge. Our post on the essential ferret starter kit lists a number of effective toys that ferrets love and will play with to increase their activity levels.

How To Make A Ferret Lose Weight!

Another common problem that we see is ferret owners feeding their pets unsuitable food types. The ideal nutrient profile for your ferret is as follows:-

  • At least 30 percent protein.
  • At least 15 percent fat.
  • No more than 5 percent fiber.

Try to keep your protein to fat ratio as 2:1 as fat contains nine calories per gram while protein contains only four. Although fats are essential for ferrets, increasing your pet ferrets fat content too much will provide an unrequited increase in calories that will result in weight gain. Our post on suitable ferret foods lists a large number of foods that you both should and shouldn’t feed your ferret.

Make A Ferret Lose Weight!

An Example Of Too Much Fat

Ferrets usually eat similar to cats, when they are full they are full and will usually stop eating or try to hide food for later rather than eat it. Owning a fat ferret or having your ferret experience sudden weight gain is usually down to the balance between protein and fats exceeding the ratio of 2:1.

These numbers are simple to make the math easier to explain, say you use the 2:1 ratio for your ferret and you offer it 100g protein and 50g fat, its calorie intake from that will be as follows:-

  • 100g protein x 4 calories per gram of protein = 400 calories.
  • 50g fat x 9 calories per gram of fat = 450 calories.
  • 400 calories from protein + 450 calories from fat = 850 calories total.

Now imagine you accidentally increase the fat in your ferret’s diet to a ratio of 1:1.

  • 100g protein x 4 calories per gram of protein = 400 calories.
  • 100g fat x 9 calories per gram of fat = 900 calories.
  • 400 calories from protein + 900 calories from fat = 1300 calories total.

As you can see, using a 1:1 ratio between protein and fat can result in your ferret getting more calories from fat in the 1:1 ratio than it did in total from the 2:1 ratio! Mistakes like this are a common cause of morbidly obese ferrets.

Although ferrets will usually stop eating once their stomach is full, their system works on the volume of food in their stomach. As a gram of protein contains 4 calories and a gram of fat contains 9 they can think they have had their fill but actually be gaining weight due to the additional calories in their stomach from fat.

Choosing The Correct Ferret Food For Weightloss

Although some ferret owners will choose to feed their pets food designed for either kittens or adult cats we recommend that you choose marshals ferret food. It has been specifically designed to fill the nutritional needs of your pet ferret whereas most kitten or cat foods fall short. That said, when trying to get your ferret to lose weight, any of the dry food options are better than raw foods or table scraps in our opinion.

This is due to the dry food products clearly stating exactly how many calories their food contains allowing you to track your ferret’s calorie intake more accurately. Additionally, it is usually cheaper and will keep much longer than raw meat foods.

The average ferret will usually require between five and seven percent of its body weight in food each day. When trying to get your ferret to lose weight, try to only feed it five percent of its body weight. Observe how your ferret reacts to this and test and adjust accordingly. It can take up to a month for you to see visual signs of weight gain in your ferret. Tracking its progress with a tape measure is also inefficient as the width of your ferret’s stomach will increase due to food and water volume throughout the day. If you want to be as accurate as possible at tracking your ferret’s weight loss, we recommend a set of pet scales.

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Are Ferrets Supposed To Be Fat

Ferrets are not supposed to be fat, in the wild, they are swift, nimble hunters and being overweight severely impedes their ability to do this. They commonly enter rabbit holes hunting and a fat ferret may not be able to explore the warren fully in search of food.

Ferrets will experience flight weight gain for winter as well as change their coats but this is normal and would not make the ferret look overweight. Pregnant and nursing ferrets may also gain a little weight to help them through raising their kits but again, they should not appear fat. If in doubt, seek advice from your local veterinarian.


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Victoria Catterson – Ferret –

Jessi Swick – IMG_8409 –

Ryan Carr – Ferret –