Ferrets should not eat blueberries. As healthy and as appetizing blueberries may look, no, they are not suitable for ferrets. Ferrets are obligate carnivores; therefore their diets are exclusively meat-based and anything other than meat—say for example fruits that contain sugar, complex carbohydrates—they have trouble digesting; worse, it can even cause major intestinal problems.
Can Ferrets Eat Blueberries?
Blueberries are not safe for ferrets—even in small amounts. Ferrets do not have the digestive system to process such a complex carbohydrate. Anatomically, they do not have a cecum. This structure in their intestines functions as a gland and produces bacteria/microorganisms that enable them to digest complex carbohydrates that are commonly found in fruits. Therefore biologically, they aren’t made for such a treat.
When a ferret has a high carbohydrate diet (derived mostly from fruits), this increases the amount of glucose in their blood; eventually increasing their risk of developing insulinoma—a type of cancer that’s rare and can be found in the pancreas. Also, when they’re fed with vegetables, their bodies can’t digest such foodstuffs. Vegetable protein is entirely different from meat protein, therefore; high consumption of vegetables can predispose ferrets to diseases such as kidney stones, gastroenteritis, sterility, and skin ulcerations. In general, fruits and vegetables are huge contraindications in their diets.
Further Reading: “Can Ferrets Eat Cheese?“
Can I Give Blueberries As A Treat To My Ferret?
Blueberries are irresistible to look at and they do taste sweet, but looks can be deceiving. This fruit may seem like the best treat to give to your furry friend—it is small, it looks healthy—but it’s best to steer clear from it. It contains complex carbohydrates that your ferret’s system cannot process and digest.
Your furry pal may be able to tolerate blueberries in small amounts, but it will have a compounding effect in the long run. It will end up undigested, subsequently blocking your ferret’s intestines—predisposing your pet to diarrhea, chronic intestinal blockage, and eventually cancer.
What Fruits Can Ferrets Eat?
Since it is a known fact that ferrets cannot digest anything other than meat protein, it is advisable to give fruits in controlled amounts. An acceptable amount of fruit to give to your furry friend is about half a teaspoon. One consideration in choosing which fruit to give them is if it’s highly acidic or not. Acidic fruits can upset their stomach and can cause ulcers in the long run.
It is best to feed your ferret no fruit at all, but if you are planning to give them fruits as a treat, here is a list of fairly safe fruits to give them:
Ferrets can only digest meat-based proteins but they have natural preferences and have a liking toward some fruits. You should peel fruits that have skins as the skin contains complex foodstuffs to digest.
It is also essential to remember that when feeding ferrets fruit, cut them up into small and thin pieces. This will allow easy passage into their intestines. Ferrets have very thin and fragile intestinal linings, so it is best to avoid big and thick pieces as these can get stuck in the passageway, causing intestinal blockage, constipation, and diarrhea.
Remember that feeding your ferret calculated amounts of treats is not only less expensive, it can also save your ferrets from certain toxins and harmful effects that may be caused by unwarranted treats. Their diets should contain 32% to 36% meat-based protein, 18% fat and only 3% of carbohydrates and fiber. Therefore, their nutrition will greatly depend on the amount of animal protein that you feed them. Avoid overwhelming your ferret with treats as their intestines are fairly small and selective; feed them at timed intervals and do not feed them just as you please. Practice feeding them only as needed.
Further Reading: “Can Ferrets Eat Bones?“
What Fruits Ferrets Should Not Eat?
Fruits shouldn’t be part of a ferret’s main diet. Fruits that ferrets should not eat are the following:
- Kiwi fruit
- Dried plums
Fruits contain high amounts of sugar that are not only detrimental to a ferret’s digestive system, but also to their teeth. So in order to meet their daily dietary needs and keep them in their best possible shape, do not feed them anything that is not meat. Anything other than meat is of little to no nutritional value to a ferret. Only feed them what is essential to their survival.
As ferrets are obligate carnivores, they should only consume meat-based protein. And because their intestines are fragile and thin, they should consume wet or moist food like meat. As much as possible, avoid feeding them dry food such as raisins and dates. It may be tricky as ferrets have exclusive nutritional needs; the important thing to do and practice is by feeding them with food that is not only beneficial to their diets but also safe for their digestive system. With that, you do not only ensure your ferret’s safety, you also satisfy their diets.
Further Reading: “Can Ferrets Eat Peanut Butter?“
Overall, blueberries can be tantalizing for ferrets but they have little to no nutritional value to their diets. When feeding your pet, it is important to choose the type of food that best fulfills their dietary needs. As much as possible, stick to meat-based food; as hard as it is to resist feeding them with colorful and sweet fruits, what we may see as beneficial to them may not always be the right thing. Always equip yourself with the right knowledge when it comes to the food that you can and cannot give to your ferret.
Other times, it may be hard to resist your furry pal’s cuteness and demands, but always remember that their health is your utmost priority. Satisfying their needs, especially dietary needs, is way above the pedestal when compared to giving in to their cravings and preferences. Prioritize essentials rather than whims, you’d thank yourself later.