Monday, August 9, 2010

What to Feed a Fox: Why Meat Is Important

A recurring debate in the pet community is whether or not to feed fresh meat. There are some who avoid feeding meat in any recognizable form to their fox. A common fear is that tasting meat or blood will somehow make the fox go "mean" or wild, and that they will never again be a suitable pet.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!

I personally find the whole "once they get the taste of blood" concept to be fairly ridiculous, and for the life of me can't figure out why so many otherwise intelligent people parrot it. Yes, seeing a live mouse will turn on the predatory instinct--but once the mouse is pounced and eaten, the instinct goes back off. Seeing a mouse won't put a fox into "kill" mode for the rest of it's life--that's just ludicrous.

You can feed fresh meat, without your animal suddenly becoming a wild, unpredictable predator. Otherwise the instant your domestic cat happened to get lucky and catch a bird, it would suddenly become a feral animal that's unsuitable to be a pet.

Furthermore, meat contains many vital nutrients that are needed for a healthy, happy fox. One amino acid of particular importance to foxes is taurine, which is found exclusively in meat. Dog kibble alone generally does not contain sufficient amounts of taurine to meet a fox's needs. Meat is easier for a fox to digest than dry, grain-based kibble is, and it contains a much healthier ratio of fats. (To keep from going rancid on store shelves, dry kibble has to have a very low fat and oil content).

Of course, foxes are omnivores, and require more than just meat to survive, but the cornerstone of good fox nutrition is feeding good, high-quality meat. If you have your pet fox on a purely kibble diet, I encourage you to introduce at least a little meat to the mix. It's the first step to a healthier, happier fox.

14 comments:

  1. I think I know where the origin of this myth might come from. I have read that in order to make really good attack dogs, raw meat is essential for a dogs diet. A dog given kibble instead of raw meat won't be as good as an attack dog. Now if that means that raw meat will turn any animal into a vicious killer, I honestly don't know, but I seriously doubt it.

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  2. I completely agree with you on the raw feeding. :) I myself own a wolfdog and while I don't feed him raw (he's on a grain free, high quality kibble instead), I definitely know the importance of feeding a balanced diet. :)

    The only thing that made me raise my eyebrows a little is the fact that you say to mix raw and kibble - this can in fact be very dangerous to your pet because of the rate at which the animal digests each food. In some cases, it has been known to cause bloat and sometimes death.

    If you have been mixing raw and kibble or know someone that does, I would advise you to discontinue doing so.

    Just looking out for you and your little furry friend! :) Great blog by the way! Very informative.

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  3. Thank you for your concern; however, keep in mind that foxes are not the same as pet dogs. A fox that is only on a kibble diet meant for dogs will run into a taurine deficiency eventually, as dog food does not contain sufficient levels of that amino acid to meet a fox's needs.

    While mixing raw and kibble CAN cause serious issues for dogs (or wolves, which are technically the same species as dogs), foxes are scavengers by nature and do seem to handle mixtures better.

    I have not heard of a single case of bloat due to food mixing occurring in pet foxes (most people I know with pet foxes feed a mixture of raw and kibble, in fact), but I will leave your warning up. :)

    If you're a reader who would rather be safe than sorry when feeding your fox, and you don't want to mix, you need to feed an entirely raw diet, NOT an entirely kibble diet.

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  4. I suppose it could be different in foxes, but it is the same in cats and dogs, that much I do know. :)

    I do agree though - no kibble is better than no meat by a long shot!

    I have a question for you - do foxes and dogs get along? (Presuming that the dog is alright with the fox, of course!)

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  5. The best answer is it depends on the dog, and it depends on the fox.

    Gizmo gets along quite well with friendly dogs. One of his best friends in the neighborhood is a little cairn terrier named Kibby.

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  6. I will set the caveat that a 100% raw diet (unless you are pruchasing a pre-mix) is difficult to properly balance - mainly because if you don't have access to a butcher who can give you some of the "extras", the cuts of meat you find at the store are missing a few things... such a stomach contents (I know, major ew to us, but if you're a fox/cat/dog chomping down whole mice and rabbits and such, you're going to eat the guts too - we don't always think of this).

    I have to wonder, if you're mixing with kibble, if perhaps cat food would in fact be better, since it seems the fox's dietary requirements may be closer to feline. Or maybe even ferret food... I have a couple of decent holistic pet stores in the area that carry the raw diets as well as the high-quality kibbles, so I may just go that route for mixing.

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  7. I feed my little fox raw meat, a few vegetables, fruit and dry dog food with an occasional wet dog food. She would love to have wet cat food but I was cautioned not to feed her cat food:)

    Roxy spends much of her time grubbing and digging in her enclosure so I am sure she is getting a few worms and bugs in her diet as well.

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  8. Yeah I feed my fox a Grain free high protein kibble and some raw meat and veggies too. But He also has this habit of peeing and soiling in his food and water bowls and then continues to eat/drink it. Of course when I see him do this I immidately dump it out and clean it and replace his food or water. Buts its very occasional is this normal? And the even better question is it okay to let him do this so often and it be alright ?

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    1. Yes, soiling their food and water is normal. Most foxes do it to "mark" it as belonging to them. However, when you see that this has happened, you do need to clean it up immediately so they don't get sick.

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    2. Thanks i'll be sure to watch for him doing it. Also He seems to like pear's. Is it okay to feed him them? I haven't read anywere that say's there harmfull to him . Do you happen to know ?

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    3. Pears are fine for a treat. :) Just make sure he doesn't eat too many or they can cause an upset tummy.

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  9. If planning to use one of the raw prepared diets for pets, would it be better to use raw for cats, since cat food always has added taurine? I've been told that one of the main differences between the raw diets for cats and dogs is the taurine. And can I assume that canned food is preferable to kibble if a raw diet is not used? Thank you.

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    1. If you're going to use one of the raw prepared diets, use one of the ones for foxes. There's two of them listed right here on this blog under the "Pet Fox Care" section...

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  10. Thank you so much for the tips I've planning on getting a pet fox for a while I just didn't know what to feed it

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