For pets such as dogs, milk is a staple food that provides essential enzymes that aid in digestion. Milk also has powerful anti-oxidants, concentrated vitamins, and essential fatty acids that pets such as cats thrive in.
However, to some animals, milk may be toxic. Before serving your ferret milk or any other dairy product, it is best to ask whether its system can take the foods.
This brings us to the question: can ferrets drink milk and is it safe for them?
Well, ferrets will drink and will eat dairy products such as cheese, yogurt or butter, because these are tasty and are non-toxic for them. However, you should not serve milk and dairy products to your pet regularly since their system lack enzymes that process lactose in milk.
Vets recommend serving milk to your adult ferrets at most once or twice a week.
Avoid Dairy Products
Ferrets are lactose intolerant, feeding them dairy products regularly can cause bowel movement and diarrhea. Without immediate care, diarrhea can also lead to dehydration and the need to clean a messy cage regularly.
Unlike humans, ferrets lack the lactase enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk and other dairy products. Lactose-free milk is a better option, only that it is not advisable to serve it to your pet regularly since the ferret’s digestive system isn’t built for it.
Effects of Dairy Products on Ferrets
Companies use a range of processing methods to create different dairy products out of milk. Some of these products contain additives and preservatives that can affect the health of your ferret. Therefore, to keep your pet in good health condition, it is best to avoid the following dairy products:
Butter contains a lot of fats that can cause inflammation of the pancreas in ferrets. Depending on the breed, the risk of inflammation is high or lower from one ferret to another.
Ferrets do not tolerate cheese due to their delicate digestive system. Cheese is high in protein hence can upset your pet’s system.
Yogurt contains too much lactose, hence can upset the cat’s system. Also, yogurt contains a lot of added sugar, which can cause an enlarged liver, wounds not healing, and kidney infections in ferrets.
– Ice Cream
Ice cream is high in calories hence can result in overweight, especially if your pet is not physically active. The treat is also low in nutrients and high in added sugar.
Whey is one of the safest sources of proteins and vital minerals for humans. However, for ferrets, this liquid protein can cause a range of health conditions with adverse effects.
Serving whey protein to your ferret can result in increased bowel movement and diarrhea. Your pet will become fatigued, thirsty with symptoms such as cramps, headache, and nausea.
Like whey, casein also contains a range of phosphoproteins that are beneficial for both dogs and humans. However, since it also contains lactose, it is not a good option to serve to ferrets since most ferrets are lactose-intolerant.
Also, casein is a potentially dangerous carcinogen. It contains some amount of harmful hormones that can be detrimental to your pet’s health.
Can Ferret Kits Drink Milk?
Yes, ferrets kits drink and may love milk, but their system cannot digest nutrients in milk. Since their digestive system is yet to develop, coupled with a lack of lactase enzyme, a saucer of milk or pieces of cheese can potentially cause stomach upset and diarrhea in ferret kits.
If you are planning to introduce the kits to milk, first seek advice from the vet. Then, start with serving small amounts as you monitor the health of the young one. In case the small pet is not dehydrated and has no running stomach, go ahead and add some more amount of milk.
Add the milk as a supplement, especially when the kit has already eaten to its full. Do not serve the milk early in the morning when the kit is still empty in the stomach.
In case you observe signs and symptoms that signify any digestive health problem, stop serving milk immediately. Seek medical advice immediately.
Can Ferrets Drink Almond or Coconut Milk?
Adult ferrets can drink both almond and coconut milk, but in very small amounts. Coconut milk, for example, is tasty and highly nutritious.
When served to ferrets, coconut milk potentially lowers the blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It also relieves constipation and helps in reducing weight in obese ferrets.
Your pet will definitely like to savor the taste of coconut milk. The subtly sweet smell in coconut milk is also attractive to these obligate carnivores.
Same case, little bits of almond milk will make your ferret begging for more. However, ferrets do not digest almond milk since their system is not made for it.
Also, almonds contain a lot of sugar that can potentially cause insulinomas (pancreatic cancer) in ferrets.
Can Ferrets Drink Lactose-Free Milk?
Lactose-free milk is your best substitute for regular milk if your ferret throws up after taking any milk product.
Additionally, lactose-free milk is loaded with the same amount of vitamins, proteins, and minerals that regular milk comes with. Calcium in lactose-free milk helps with bone-strengthening and teeth development.
However, even with that, you should be mindful when introducing your fussy to milk. Its digestive system is built for high proteins, not dairy products. Naturally, it will not digest the milk properly and obtain all the nutrients.
Serve a small amount of lactose-free milk to minimize the risk of digestive problems. Never give your pet regular lactose-free milk, as this is potentially poisonous to ferrets.
Sugar and lactose-containing products of any kind do not mix well with fussies. Ferrets that love milk products often develop digestive problems that affect their health.
If you are planning to add some milk to your pet’s diet, consider serving a small amount—1 to 2 tbsp twice a week.
Vets also recommend goat’s milk as it is more nutritious than cow, coconut, and almond milk. Otherwise, avoid serving your pet dairy products, especially the processed ones, as they are higher in sugar contents that cause insulinomas.