Sunday, August 15, 2010
okay, a few Lovebird pictures and then A RANT >:3
Last warning: RANT BELOW
I always make it a habit to say, "whatever diet suits both you and your ferret is the best one," (as long as it, you know, isn't grossly inappropriate - dog food, vegan diet, poor quality, that kinda stuff.) But it still just amuses me whenever I see people warning potential ferrents away from BARF diets. Now, I didn't always feed raw, but I was never *alarmed* when I heard about those that did. I always realized diets that mimicked nature were always best for *any* animal. Which is why I don't even feed pelleted foods to my rabbit - just hays/grasses and veggies/fruits, and he's what ... ten, now?
Anywho, I came across a certain website the other day. And it said,
Note: Please be aware that a raw meat diet could introduce your ferret to internal parasites or disease. If you do want to feed your ferret raw meat, please check with your veterinarian for advice. It is very difficult to feed your ferret a balanced "all natural" diet. I would recommend feeding your ferret a balanced ferret food in addition to the real meat.
Also, never give your ferret small bones to chew on (especially chicken or turkey bones). These bones could splinter and get lodged in your ferret's digestive system (requiring surgery). Your ferret can eat the soft cartilage at the end of large bones or the bone marrow . Ferrets can chew on larger bones that have been softened by boiling.
Which is just all kinds of wrong, sadly, except the last about the vet - and an owner STILL has to make sure that the vet isn't biased, because a lot are. You see those bags of kibble in the office, even the Wysong? Those are the things vets may push on you, instead of listening to anything else. Even an otherwise awesome vet might not have the knowledge of "alternative diets." But, you know, if your fert has a preexisting condition, extra care has to be taken with any dietary switch.
Besides that, good quality, properly handled raw meat isn't more dangerous. In fact, it's a lot safer. Why? Because kibble is so dry that it actually sits in a ferret belly for a longer period of time than raw meat, waiting for the acids and enzymes to build up enough to break the food down. If there's bacteria in that kibble (and we know there's the odd rancid batch, or moldy or whatever), it sets the ferret up for illness. Meat and rmbs and carcasses are eaten, processed and then crapped out usually within three hours.
And the bones? Really? For size and weight, small bones like chickens and game hens are the most biologically correct. There's the same danger to choking and lodging with kibble (I actually had to take Yew in, once, because I thought he was sick. Here, kibble was scraping his throat bloody, so *waves*). You *can* give big bones for stimulation and getting at the cartilage, but smaller bones are fine, too, WITHOUT THE BOILING.
And as for the difficulty in "balancing" meals ... not really, no. True, with whole prey, as long as you vary prey sizes and sources it's complete there and then. With raw diets, as long as you realize balance will be achieved over time, you're good to go. All you need is three protein sources, organ and heart (usually chicken liver and chicken heart, but you can do what I do and go online to get fancy-schmancy).
Maybe it's me, but if you say, okay, turkey, chicken and gamehens are my 3 protein sources, it's not that hard to get your hands on/do, is it?
And how is a kibble any more balanced? Even the best has preservatives and carbs, and usually sugars and all that great stuff to get a ferret to eat it. Is that balanced? Or is it just convenient? Because sometimes I think those two get interchanged when they're really completely seperate ideas.
Last, but not least, is the mental stimulation. Like more eloquent ferrents have said before me, each raw meal is like a fert-y puzzle. The ferrets have to figure out how to eat it - which teeth to use the most, how to turn the head, if they should bite/chew/shear. Then they're confronted with all the different textures and tastes and smells. All these things give the body all the time and signals it needs to ready the digestive system to produce the right acids and enzymes to break the food down and USE it.
Kibble is not only the same texture and taste and shape all the time, but the ferrets eat it so quickly that their bodies can't even *begin* to create the necessary enzymes to digest most of it *while* they're eating. So, like I said earlier, the kibble sits in the belly until there's enough enzymes and acids to break down what it can, before the carbs are flushed out of the body. And that IS an important difference, gastrically-speaking.
Physically speaking, there's an appreciable difference between a raw/natural fed ferret's jaw and chest muscles compared to kibble fed. They develop muscles that never even get exercised with kibble, and that leads us to -
- the behavioral aspect: rmbs give ferrets a beneficial outlet for behaviors that are usually expressed in negative ways. They can handle wrestling without getting carried away, they obsess less (aimless or repetitive digging at floors, cages, biting bars, that sort of thing) because at least one instinct is being met satisfactorily. There is a difference in that - their play appears more enjoyable and less *completely* frenetic.
So, yeah. I try not to, but I CAN rant with the best of them, especially when I come across something ... so unresearched and willfully ignorant.
But I feel better, after saying my piece, so this is me. Getting off my soapbox. \o/