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Ferret Gains Weight

Is a ferret’s weight gain from overeating or something else?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, DABVP
Posted: March 1, 2009, 5 a.m. EST

Q: I have three ferrets that live in the same cage. Skitch, the oldest, has put on a significant amount of weight. While the other ferrets play, Skitch sleeps. When watching him try to play, he seems to stumble, as if his body weight pulls him down. I don't know what to do about this. I feed them all in their cage, but apparently Skitch eats a lot more than the others. What do I do about this? Should I feed them separately? I don't always feed them right after their bowls are empty, but I don't want the other ferrets to suffer and not get any food. I would really appreciate any feedback you have.

A: Ferrets, unlike cats and dogs, rarely eat too much and become obese. They are usually very active, which burns up calories, and they don’t seem to have the same “drive” as dogs and cats to ingest more calories than their body needs. So it is unusual when we hear about a ferret such as Skitch.

You may be correct that Skitch seems to hog the food, and he has become so overweight that he cannot move around as a normal ferret would. If this is really true, you may need to separate the ferrets when food is available. But this is an unlikely scenario.

I am concerned about your characterization of Skitch as sleeping a lot and stumbling. To be sure that there are no medical issues causing the sleeping and stumbling, have Skitch examined by your veterinarian. He or she may look for evidence of an insulinoma, other metabolic disease or even heart disease. All of these conditions could slow down your ferret and cause him to increase his weight. Sometimes, the fluid build up associated with heart disease can masquerade as weight gain. In some unfortunate instances, even cancer can look like weight gain.

The best that you can do for Skitch is to get your ferret to his veterinarian, make sure he has a clean bill of health, and then get him on a diet and encourage him to exercise by having fun play times with him.

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Reader Comments
My ferret started to lose weight and was looking like his days may be near to an end. He is six years old. I managed to get him to increase his weight simply doing the following easy steps:

- Each morning take a 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of Uncle Jims Duk Soup. Add a very little boiling water and mix into paste. Add yolk (yellow part only) of one egg (free range organic). Mix together thoroughly and give to ferret in a small bowl.

- Two or three times a day take a 1/4 of a teaspoon of Duk Soup, mix into paste as above. Add two or three tablespoons of double cream (MUST Be lactose FREE, as Ferrets are lactose intolerant and Lactose will make them ill). Place into microwave for 4 or 5 seconds so that the cream/Soup is warm (NOT Hot). Feed to Ferret.

The above takes a couple of minutes a day to arrange.

My Ferret went from weighing 2.2 Lbs to 3 Lbs in about 4 weeks. I have now eased of the above feeding regime, providing the egg/cream every other day. I weigh him weekly and monitor his weight.

Ensure Ferret has plenty of fresh water and a good quality dried Ferret food. I also feed him daily FerretVite vitamins.
Scott, London
Posted: 1/19/2014 10:32:47 AM
We too have a ferret female who has gained alot of weight. She is active and is up and around running in the house. She just loves to eat. Whenever we eat something she looks straight up at us as if she is begging. There is no mistake on how she gained her weight. Her face is always in the food bowl.
Mellissa, las vegas, NV
Posted: 11/28/2009 7:09:48 PM
i have the same problem but he does'nt sleep as much as the other ones but he will not stop eating so i'm gonna try seperating the both of them and try the diet and is esting three times a day good for the ferrets
dean, baltimore, MD
Posted: 11/13/2009 9:41:52 AM
My house hold had 5 ferrets: Smokey, Monty, Bear, Feesto, and Sunday. Smokey was close to both sunday ans feesto who have recenly passed. After this Smokey had a HUGE weight gain and it was verry qick as well. Now he is so big he can barely walk on our tile floor! Both of our other fuzziez are fine.
Abberz, St.pete, FL
Posted: 5/10/2009 9:41:35 AM
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