can ferrets eat cheese

Can Ferrets Eat Cheese?

Written by: Akeem Eletu
Last updated on:

Experts have opined that ferrets, being carnivores, need to feed primarily on a diet that is mainly meat or meat-based. The protein content of a ferret’s diet should be 30-40%, over 20% of fat, while the carbohydrates and fiber should be kept much lower if present in the diet at all.

For some reason, many pet owners would like to know if it’s okay to offer cheese to their ferrets.

This enlightening piece answers the question, “Can ferrets eat cheese?”. It also discusses other important questions about offering ferrets cheese.

Can Ferrets Eat Cheese?

No is the answer. Under no condition should you feed your ferret cheese. Ferrets eat cheese, but cheeses can cause them harm because they cannot digest it.

The American Ferret Association warned against offering cheese to ferrets because it can cause them intestinal pain, and the worst case may even result in cancer.

Although ferrets will eat cheese because it is tasty, it is better not to offer them cheese because their digestive systems lack enzymes that process lactose in cheese.

Is Cheese Okay for Ferrets?

Cheese is not okay for ferrets because ferrets aren’t just obligate carnivores but also lactose intolerant. A ferret’s digestive system does not have the required enzyme for the lactose content of cheese.

Feeding your ferret cheese can induce cause diarrhea and vomiting. Diarrhea and vomiting, like humans and other animals, can also lead to dehydration in your ferret. Dehydration in ferrets can, in turn, lead to other health challenges such as heart or kidney failure.

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Health Benefits of Cheese to Ferrets

Cheese has a commendable health benefit for humans and some animals, but it is not the case for ferrets.

There is no significant health benefit that cheese can offer ferrets. This is because ferrets are lactose intolerant, and the enzymes required to digest lactose are not present in their digestive system.

Are There Risks Involved in Offering Cheese to Ferrets?

In a word, yes! Cheese poses several threats to ferrets. Their digestive system is not efficient in digesting the lactose content of cheese.

Ferrets are highly prone to diarrhea and vomiting if they consume cheese; this can cause dehydration and lead to more health challenges.

Due to their thick fur and sweat glands, ferrets find it especially difficult to cool in hot temperatures. On a hot day for a ferret already experiencing dehydration from eating cheese, the ferrets could be in a precarious condition.

Compared to other animals, ferrets have a short gastrointestinal system, and eating cheese can also cause ferrets to experience an intestinal blockage, leading to discomfort and pain. You do not want to willfully put your ferrets in that precarious situation.

There are foods considered toxic for ferrets, and cheese often makes it up to the list.

How Often Should Ferrets Eat Cheese?

Cheese is not a good option of diet to consider offering your ferrets. Do not give them any, even in small quantities, to be safe.

Non-seasoned meat, whether raw or cooked, is the best diet option for your ferret because of its nutritional value for ferrets’ healthy living.

Due to the great taste of cheese, ferrets will happily munch on it if offered, but it is not a recommended diet supplement.

Can Baby Ferrets Eat Cheese?

Cheese is also bad for baby ferrets because, like adult ferrets, they are also lactose intolerant. The enzyme needed to digest lactose is just not present in their digestive system, and eating cheese can cause them to suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, or even seizures.

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Do Ferrets Like Cheese?

Ferrets do like cheese and would happily munch on it. The problem with ferrets eating cheese is not whether or not they like it because they do.

Ferrets are lactose intolerant. Their digestive systems just cannot handle the lactose content of cheeses, and it is better to keep them off it, regardless of their appetite for it.

What is the Best Way to Offer Cheese to Ferrets?

A good starting point with feeding ferrets with anything is to keep in mind that you need to feed your ferrets with nutritional foods. With cheese in question, there is no ‘best’ way to serve it to ferrets. 

Ferrets are curious animals who will like to get into anything they can, whether or not it’s good for them. Since these little creatures are carnivorous, their bodies are made to deal better with meat or meat-based meals.

Although there is a list of good alternatives to complement their diet, cheese is not one of those good alternatives and should, ideally, not be given to ferrets.

There is a highly controversial notion that a very insignificant amount of cheese won’t harm ferrets. Still, it is up to you to protect your ferrets against consuming what is potentially more harmful than beneficial to them.

Can you Serve Other Dairy Products to Ferrets?

No, you should not. A safe way to prevent your ferrets from battling unnecessary indigestion issues and clogging of intestines is to avoid over-laboring their digestive systems.

Dairy products are not advisable for ferrets because of their high content of complex carbohydrates.

Dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, milk, and others work like poison for ferrets. It is better to avoid giving them cheeses as they can cause ferrets to suffer from intestinal distress and even cancer.

Final Thoughts

Ferrets are picky eaters but tend to jump on foods like cheese because of their curiosity.

With the goal of safety and health, it is best to stick to diets high in protein and meat. Such a diet plan is key to ensuring your ferrets’ good health and proper development.

As much as you want to give them treats, avoid giving in to those cute eyes so as not to slip them some cheeses. The digestive systems of ferrets cannot handle it well. You will also have to deal with your pet’s stinking feces.

Aside from that, you may have to visit the veterinary doctor and nurse a very sick animal because of a bad decision as a pet owner.

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