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"The Thinking Person's Pet Food"™ – Since 1979

Ferrets

Question:
Hello,

I was wondering about the Rabbit, Duck and Venison Au Jus'. I have asked a local place if they carried the FERRET Au Jus' and was told they only had canine and feline ones. I was also telling another ferret person in Canada about the rabbit Au Jus as she is getting rabbits from her grocery store for $20 each and grinding them herself and she says it's kinda hard for her to do this as she's a vegetarian, so I suggested your ferret Rabbit Au Jus and she told me she gives your products to her cat and dog, but can't get the ferret one either - so I went to your site and noticed all the Au Jus labels only say canine/feline diet on them and I started to think, if it's 100% rabbit, what could be the difference if the label says canine/feline or ferret? 100% rabbit is 100% rabbit, right? I am wondering if maybe you add 'ferret' to the label you may get more biz from the ferret community as people don't always think like I do. If it doesn't SAY ferret, they don't think its good for their pet.

Am I right in believing that all the Rabbit, Duck, Turkey, Venison labels all say only canine/feline on the label and there is no specific Au Jus for ferrets?

If what I am thinking is true, I will post it on the FML which is read by a large portion of the ferret community. I will also pick some up form my local supplier as well as I'm not really into buying feeder rabbits and grinding them up. I had pet rabbits as a child and find this will be difficult - even though I know it is what my ferrets need as a good food source.

I would also like to know if the canned Rabbit, Venison, Turkey and Duck are cooked or is this raw food?

Also, have you thought about adding canned mice and or rats as these are more along the lines of what ferrets eat. Just a thought!

Answer:
The canned Au Jus diets do state canine/feline on the label, but any diet that is suited for a carnivore (cat or dog) is also good for a ferret (also a carnivore). The Au Jus canned diets are all meat and can be fed to any carnivore with benefit. We actually recommend feeding ferrets the Au Jus canned diets as part of a varied and rotated diet. We also have Ferret Archetypal 1 and 2 if you were not aware, which are specifically labeled for ferrets. You can also feed ferrets the Dream Treats, as they are all meat.

Wysong Diets are designed to mimic the animal's natural feeding patterns so really you could feed any Wysong canine and/or feline food to a ferret as part of a varied diet (please note we do not recommend feeding any single diet exclusively). As with all Wysong-designed programs, our goal is to feed companion animals what they are genetically adapted to. In the wild, cats, dogs and ferrets have a fundamentally similar carnivorous (meat-based) diet. For instance, in the wild a wolf, lynx and ferret hunt for essentially the same type of prey animals.

All of our canned diets, including the Au Jus canned varieties are heat processed. Canning by definition involves heat (steam under pressure, to be exact), and is required by FDA to prevent pathogens. It is not possible to create a raw canned food (http://www.wysong.net/pet-health-and-nutrition/cold-processed-canned-pet-food.php). Because canned foods must be heated (retorted), supplements of heat sensitive ingredients are recommended (AddLife™, Call of the Wild™, Wild Things™, EFA™, Pet Inoculant™).

As for your other question, there are two answers why rodents are not used in pet foods. One is that most people would object to rodents as a food ingredient. Two, there is not a source available in the quantity needed for commercial production.

Answer:
Thank you for your letter. We are on the same page but differ on some details.

Question:
Thanks for answering my question about the Au Jus (although I have noticed some are NOT 100% meat in which I will have no need for them).

Answer:
They are all 100% meat. It's just that regulators will not permit calling organs "meat."

Question:
As to Dr. Wysong's view on the Optimal Health Program, I'm sure he has not done his homework on the special needs of the ferret diet.

Answer:
After half a century of research and 14 books he has done quite a bit of homework.

Question:
Ferrets are OBLIGATE carnivores definition:

Obligate carnivores: An obligate or true carnivore is an animal that subsists on a diet consisting only of meat. Hypercarnivores present specialized dentition for a meat-only diet. They may consume other products presented to them, especially animal products like cheese and bone marrow or sweet sugary substances like honey and syrup, but, as these items are not essential, they do not consume these on a regular basis. True carnivores lack the physiology required for the efficient digestion of vegetable matter, and, in fact, some carnivorous mammals eat vegetation specifically as an emetic (such as when dogs or cats eat grass to induce vomiting).

Answer:
That is mostly true, but please keep in mind that we are dealing with words here, not necessarily a complete definition of reality.

The comments that follow take the following reality into consideration: The only truly natural food and life for a ferret is what they would experience in the wild. Anything less than that is a compromise. At Wysong we seek to compromise the least. Any processed food is a compromise, just like keeping ferrets inside on carpet is. To make up for this compromise in nutrition, specific features have been built into the foods as explained below.

Question:
ALSO, please inform Dr. Wysong that NO WHERE in the wild would a black-footed ferret or a Polecat (the ferret's closest relative in the wild) would they ever eat (Organic or otherwise): Milk calcium (they get this from BONES, not milk as been proven that only humans consume milk or milk products beyond the child years),

Answer:
All carnivores occasionally eat milk as part of mammary glands they consume in prey. To balance our diets properly with a spectrum of nutrients we use a variety of natural sources, including bone and milk calcium. Also, milk calcium is not "milk."

Question:
bean sprouts, millet sprouts, quinoa sprouts, blueberries, apples, plums, barley grass, wheat grass, kelp, seaweed artichoke - or a NUMBER of the other PLANT based items you put in the Archetypal diets!!

Answer:
They are in these diets at about the same level that ferrets would consume such items in the digesta of their prey.

Question:
FERRETS DO NOT HAVE A CECUM which is the beginning of the large intestine that breaks down plant matter. Exclusive carnivores have a reduced cecum (cats and dogs).

Answer:
Plant nutrients are not only digested in the cecum.

Question:
Since the ferret DOES NOT have a cecum they CANNOT digest ANY plant matter fed to them so the use of blueberries, apples and other forms of plant matter fed to them for dietary purposes is of no use to them at all.

Answer:
We disagree for the above reasons.

Question:
Food also passes thru a ferret's digestive system in about 4 hours. Hardly enough time for them to extract plant based items. Ferrets love fruit and vegetables - but their systems don't! A banana in comes out a banana. Their diet must be high in ANIMAL protein, high in fat and LOW in fiber!

Answer:
The minor plant material in our foods is not walled off by indigestible fiber and some can be absorbed directly through the stomach and intestines. Some also exerts nutraceutical effects and enhances probiotic activity.

Question:
I will purchase your rabbit Au Jus and have contacted a local distributor for some, but I will NOT feed my ferrets a diet w/plant to plant parts in it - especially at $15 for a 7.5 oz bag. I may as well just flush it down the toilet for all the good it would provide.

Answer:
Our Archetype TNT processed foods are 99+% meat, organ and bone elements and are in a shelf-stable raw form. I think your ferrets health would have a different opinion of the benefits of these foods.

Here are some ferret results and owner opinions: http://www.wysong.net/Letters/best_ferret_foods.shtml.

Question:
I rotate their diet with OTHER FORMS of meat - such as mice, rats, sometimes beef, chicken and sometimes frozen chicks as this is what they would eat if they were in the wild.

Answer:
We definitely agree with the diet rotation. Are these foods processed so that all the corn, soy, etc. is removed from their entrails before you feed them? See the problem created by the "absolutely no vegetable matter" argument?

Question:
Hopefully I have shed some light on the true makeup and dietary needs of the ferret. Here are some very informative pages on feeding ferrets a 'natural (meaning ONLY what they would eat in the wild)' diet: http://www.exotichobbyist.com/NaturalFerret.html, http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=479&S=5, and http://www.craftycreatures.com/forferretsonly/ferret_school/ferretschool_nutritionrawtruth.html (a MUST read!).

Answer:
Thank you. Here are some links to our books and information. (http://www.wysong.net/page/WOTTPWS/CTGY/EDUAIDS) Here is a link to some of the tens of thousands of results animals have experienced over the past 30 years through multiple generations of carnivores following the Wysong Optimal Health Program (http://www.wysong.net/testimonials.shtml).

Question:
I hope you will now understand the special needs of the ferret and the ferret diet since all these commercial food is nothing more than ferret fast food which is shortening our ferrets life span as well as causing them to become ill with insulinomas and adrenal disease to name a few that are very rare in European ferrets who are basically fed raw and NATURAL (non-plant) foods.

Answer:
Wysong does not belong in that class. In fact, we were the first company to alert the public to the need to match creatures to their archetypal design--to the degree it is possible while keeping animals as pets.

I hope this information and the links will help your understanding of the most healthful way to care for pet ferrets.

Question:
After I wrote to you, I discussed this with some ferret experts (vets and researchers) from the FML (Ferret Mailing List) and they pointed out that some plant matter is needed to bind the dry food or else it would just be dust and that the amounts of the plant items are so small that it would mimic what a ferret would get in their prey's digest.

Answer:
This is true for extruded food but not for our raw TNT products, like Archetype. Any vegetable components there are for their specific health benefits.
They are all 100% meat. It's just that regulators will not permit calling organs "meat."

Question:
I am wondering why your rabbit au jus says 100% meat, but the turkey, chicken and other au jus' only say 95% meat on the cans.

Answer:
Because regulators have not forced a change on that yet.

Question:
And my ferrets get no corn or wheat

Answer:
The point is that is what is fed to the rodents you are feeding and thus your ferrets consume it when they consume them.

Question:
that I know of as for right now they are getting human grade chicken and turkey meat and eggs and what organs I am able to purchase at my local grocery store which is only hearts, liver and gizzards (and bones), but I am also feeding them frozen whole mice as well. Right now, the chicken, turkey and eggs are cooked but I add SOME raw in as I am still concerting then form an all kibble diet. I have just started adding your rabbit au jus the last 2 days and they are LOVING it. They wouldn't come NEAR raw a few months ago and a month before that they wouldn't eat meat either so we are still in the adjustment period.

Thank you for all the info as I am still new to the 'natural' diet. I have had ferrets for over 18 yrs and only fed them kibble. Not much was known back then and I had no knowledge of any of the raw diets although I had tried to offer them raw as well as cooked beef, turkey, chicken and eggs with no success. The FML gave me hints on how to convert them slowly which has worked well. The only thing I don't like about kibble is that it causes tarter and if I can convert them to all raw then I won't need to worry at all about their teeth from what I've been told by others.

Answer:
Sounds like you are on track. Best of health to you and yours.