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Can Ferrets Eat Peanut Butter? What You Need to Know!
Ferrets are a ton of fun to have around, and one of the best things about them is being able to share your food with them. However, there are a few foods that you should keep to yourself, and peanut butter is one of them.
However, the answer to whether ferrets can eat peanut butter isn’t quite as simple as that. To learn more about why you shouldn’t share your spread with them, including what exactly makes it so harmful, read on.
Is Peanut Butter Safe for Ferrets?
Ferrets are “obligate carnivores,” meaning they should eat meat pretty much exclusively. So, unless you’re buying truly unusual peanut butter, that jar of Skippy is probably off-limits.
You might think that peanut butter should be fine because it’s high in protein, but ferrets can’t process the nutrients found in plants, which can cause diarrhea, intestinal blockages, and even cancer.
Most peanut butter that you find in stores is also packed with sugar and salt, neither of which are good for your ferret. Sugar can cause obesity, hypoglycemia, and tooth decay, whereas salt can cause a lethal sodium overdose. Even if you buy the sugar-free organic stuff, though, you’re better off not sharing it.
However, that’s not to say that a little bit of peanut butter will kill your ferret. In fact, it may be okay to give your little buddy a tiny amount under certain conditions (like to mask the taste of a nasty medication). However, these instances are extremely rare, and even then, you’re better off finding a different solution.
My Ferret Already Ate Peanut Butter. What Should I Do?
If you’ve been feeding your ferret peanut butter without incident, you should stop immediately rather than tempt fate. Some of the issues that could occur may manifest over time rather than right away, so don’t make the situation worse.
If your ferret has only had a tiny amount, you should probably be fine. Just monitor them to make sure they’re not acting strangely.
If they’ve eaten quite a bit or you’re noticing signs of distress, you should take them to the vet right away. Bring the peanut butter with you so the doctor can read the ingredients label to determine if there are any questionable ingredients beyond sugar and salt.
What Should I Feed My Ferret Instead?
Your ferret needs a diet that’s high in protein, with a good amount of healthy fat thrown in as well. All of this needs to be derived from meat sources.
Most commercially-sold ferret food has everything that the animals need to grow up healthy. Most cat food is suitable for ferrets as well, as cats are also obligate carnivores.
Human-grade meat is also suitable, so long as it isn’t raw. You can cook eggs, chicken, turkey, and just about anything else and feed it to your ferret. Just lay off the salt and other seasonings.
Be aware, though, that in the wild, ferrets eat more than just lean meat. They also consume bones, organ meat, and every other part of any animal they kill. There are important vitamins and minerals in these foods, so it’s essential that your ferret gets them as well. You may want to buy bone-in meat from a butcher and grind it up, and then feed your ferret the resulting ground meat.
Make sure that the food doesn’t contain small bones that the ferret can crush, though. These can fracture when bitten, causing splinters that could hurt your pet.
Should You Feed Your Ferret Live Food?
Given how important it is to give your ferret high-quality meat, you may be tempted to feed your pet live food, such as mice.
This is fine as far as the ferret is concerned, so long as the prey animal isn’t able to harm your pet. In fact, your ferret may relish the chance to hunt down their supper for a change.
That doesn’t mean you should do it, however. It’s not very humane, and some prey animals carry diseases, parasites, or other undesirable traits. You’re much better off feeding your ferret dry food or stuff you cooked yourself.
What’s the Verdict? Can Ferrets Eat Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter isn’t toxic to ferrets, but it’s still not something they should eat. It’s filled with carbs they can’t digest, as well as sugar and salt, both of which are extremely bad for ferrets.
If you want to give your little buddy a treat, keep the peanut butter for yourself and grab a morsel of meat rather than a jar of Jif for your ferret. They’ll enjoy it more, and you won’t have a sick pet on your hands.
Worried about running out of food for your ferret? Find out what else you can feed him:
- Can Ferrets Eat Tuna? Is It Safe For Ferrets To Eat?
- Can Ferrets Eat Cat Food? Is It Safe For Ferrets To Eat?
- Can Ferrets Eat Bananas? Are They Safe To Eat?
Featured Image Credit: NIAID, Flickr
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.