I've recently had Tiberius at the vet a lot lately because of his prolapse and diarrhea. They currently believe he has a stomach virus and is on medication and is improving quite a bit. After the few times we've had choking problems and one severe blockage from Tiberius swallowing chunks of bone without chewing, my vet doesn't want him to have bone-in food anymore. Shes always been supportive of the raw diet but is concerned about his repeatedly almost dying from bone mishaps. Frankly, it's worrying me to death with as often as he's had problems and as many different things I've been trying to make it work. I'm convinced he's just not a ferret that can handle bones well.
Is there anyway to make a boneless raw diet viable? I've heard of hybrid raw/kibble diets as well, but I'm not too sure about that. I know there are important nutrients in the bone aside from calcium. Is there anyway to supplement that?
He really needs bone in his diet, it's very important. Items such as egg shell and bonemeal powder are always only temporary solutions and never meant to be used long-term.
What you may be able to do though is to switch him onto a balanced commercial diet of either commercial raw grinds or rehydrated FDR (be wary that these can cost quite a penny). When balanced, these will include appropriate levels of bone, muscle and organs. Some brands may look amazing, but be wary of their ingredients and the percentages of each of those things, ferrets ideally need 10-15% bone, 10% organs, 10% heart and 65-70% muscle in a balanced grind. Sometimes you will need to directly contact the supplier/brand to find out what their rough estimates of those percentages are. I do some commercial raw along with Frankenprey in my ferrets' diet, for the commercial bit I use something like Stella & Chewys. It's very important when doing a commercial raw, to try and stick to 95% meat-based and higher.
Something to keep in mind with doing grinds (or just commercial in general since it's all usually grinds), is that the benefit of teeth-cleaning from bones will no longer exist, so you will need to regularly brush your ferret's teeth for them. And ferrets doing a diet of grinds are more prone to overeating and getting chubby than when they have to work to really scissor off and chew pieces of food.
Maybe some of the other members will have more ideas on what could be done, while keeping his diet balanced and healthy.
I suppose you could try it, I'm not sure how well the blender will last in the long run though, generally to grind bones you'd be using a meat grinder, not a blender. I don't even want to think about trying to blend any bones in my Blendtec blender...lol.
Definitely get some sort of grinder/blender that can handle bones. Because bone is essential for them.
Ferrets: Contessa Kitties: Watson, Oskar DIP Sinnead, Vincent, Boris, Zeus and Athena, Willow, Mr. Frodo, Indie, Lucrezia, Judge, Odin, Miss Emily, Suki, Cody, Aristotle, Butterscotch, Frankenfurter. RIP Herne, Ligeia, and Mr. Stubbs
Do you mean doing a partial diet of both kibbles and raw? It's doable.. I did that at first with my ferrets before switching them onto a full raw diet. BUT to me it was a nightmare.. there's plenty of extra precautions you need to take, like taking kibble away a few hours before you offer raw, and returning it only a few hours after raw had been offered, just so you don't end up giving someone a stomach ache or at worst an overgrowth of bacteria in their gut, which can only be helped through antibiotics from the vet.
Not to mention the other things that could happen, like A) ferret on raw refuses to see kibble as food ever again (mine did this, the cat continued on kibbles for at least 2-3 months after they switched and they refused to touch his kibble even though it was exactly the mix they got before), B) ferret refuses to see raw as food anymore and will just hold out for kibble every time instead.
And then your usual issues with kibbles... A) kibble dehydrates a ferret and makes them always toe the line of being hydrated which when disease/illness strikes can be more fatal, B) kibble cannot clean teeth and instead packs on the tartar and plaque, C) even high-end kibbles can still end up leading to insulinoma over time, D) if your ferret ends up with a food sensitivity, it's much harder to figure out the culprit ingredient as kibbles use just sooooo many.
Well that's probably a bad option then. Ugh I'm just not sure what to do. Even chopping the bones into extremely small pieces he still has managed to choke or swallow whole. It's like he doesn't wanna chew.
How small are you currently doing the bones? There are some meat grinders that can do bones very, very fine.. And it sounds like Msav has had success in pulverizing animals with softer bones like game hens in their Blendtec. There are several types of animals that have soft bones like that, eg. game hens, quail, frog, mice, gerbils, hamsters, rats.. some softer rabbit bones maybe?
One thing about smashing bones is that at some stage they are too small to bother chewing, but still too big to swallow whole, and then the ferrets who try will usually choke up on those, which is why the bones should be bigger in size than that, forcing them to crunch off pieces by themselves, instead of trying to just inhale it as is.
I agree with LindaM in regards to smashing bones. Especially turkey and rabbit. They always shattered and were sharp and pointy. after seeing one of my ferrets get a bone stabbed into the roof of his mouth, I decided that smashing bones created fractures that were not consistent with ferret chewing. I give them whole or blend them smooth.
Some here have not had a problem smashing bones, I just don't feel comfortable with it.
I used a meat tenderizer mallet to smash the bones.
@ryuu2713 Also, I don't know if I missed this somewhere or not.. but what are your current bone-in sources for your ferret? There are some bones that tend to be more accepted and easy than others, ie. chicken wings vs turkey necks or pork riblets. This can happen sometimes as some bones are softer and easier and others can be very tough. As another example, my ferrets enjoy crunching up duck necks for one, but really don't like turkey necks and don't ever want to be truly bothered to eat them (which is okay for me, as they have more than enough other bone-in sources already, but it happens).
I've tried chicken wings, necks, duck wings, various turkey sections and I currently have quail but haven't given him any yet. I've tried everything from giving whole, to cutting into knuckle sided sections to smashing into small bits. He has continually choked on everything with multiple times us barely saving him from death. I'm at the point that it's getting very scary to think about trying other things because I don't want this to be the time we can't save him.