Bathing and grooming your ferret is part of your pet’s care. This activity can also be very fun for you and your furball but it is essential to know when, where, how, with what ….
I tried to put all necessary information about bath time and other elements of ferrets care: ear cleaning, nail trimming, flea treatments, brushing teeth …
I hope you will find this post useful and that will answer you to some questions you might have about your pet personal hygiene.
The most important thing about bath time is frequency. You must not bath your ferret too often.
Ferrets are known as stinky animals. Ok, their odor is not so strong and repulsive, it is rather mild and musky, but still this smell bothers some people. If you talk to some experienced ferret landlord he/she might tell you that they got used to it but you maybe think that will never happen to you.
Some people will try to eliminate or at least reduce the odor by bathing the ferret. This happened to be accurate but only partly.
If you respect certain schedules and bath your ferret couple of times per year, you will be on the right track but if you think that you will reduce the odor by bathing your pet every week, you cannot be further from your goal.
Frequent bathing will only bring you headache as your ferret will stink even more and it can also experience some skin problem ( dry and itchy skin ) .
This is because with bathing you are removing precious oils from ferret’s fur/skin so oil glands receive information to work overtime and produce extra oil ! Extra oil will result in extra smell so you will get totally opposite outcomes. Ferrets skin is very sensitive and easily dries out so you have to be very careful. Vet will tell you that you should bath your ferret once a month or just a couple of times per year.
After you learn how often you should bath your fur friend , next step is to learn about bath supplies .
What do you need for bathing?
- Shampoo – the ideal option is to get shampoo specially made for ferrets. If you use some other product risk to provoke discomfort and end up with ferret with dry and itchy skin. If you cannot find ferrets shampoo ( although several brands are available ) you can use kitten shampoo or as last resort – tearless shampoo for babies. I believe you will find ferrets shampoo and if your ferret is restless and especially in the water, you might consider buying the tearless shampoo, to avoid eye irritation. In case your ferret has fleas then you should consult your vet to advise you about some flea treatment shampoo.
- Conditioner – this is not a must but if you like you can use this product as well. Same as for shampoo it is essential that it is made for ferrets only. It compensates lost oils,I think it is good for your ferret skin/ fur
- Towel – after bathing your ferret, you should use the towel to dry it as ferrets get cold very quickly. If you want you can warm the towel to be even more comfortable for your pet.
The next step is to prepare the water. Ferrets body temperature is higher than humans ( between 101 – 103F ) so do not make the water as for yourself. The water you consider pleasantly warm, your pet will find cold. My friend’s who is experienced ferret landlord advice is to make the water warm enough as for your hot bath. Of course it should be hot but not boiling.
Do not put too much water, especially if your ferret is not so familiar with water. Prepare some toys to make bath time even more interesting, optionally you can bring some small food treats. No matter where you are bathing your pet, bathtub, some plastic tub, or sink it would be good to have rubber matt to avoid your ferret to slip which can cause discomfort and some minor injuries.
Always support your ferret when putting it in the water, especially if the water is still unknown terrain for your furball. Do not force it to go in, be patient.
After your ferret is in the bathtub it is time to get it wet. You can use your hands, a cup, a cloth to get it wet or you can gently splash the water over your pet avoiding the head. Do not pour water directly on its head.
The next step is the shampooing process. If you want to make this experience even more comfortable for your pet, warm up the shampoo. As shampoo temperature is the same as room temperature and that can be very cold for wet ferret. Take a small amount of shampoo and put it on the ferrets back. Start applying it by massage and make sure you wash well the tail and the belly, as these parts are the source of the smell.
Be careful and try to avoid shampoo gets into ferrets eyes and mouth. It is advisable to keep the ferret with one hand while washing it so it cannot move too much.
After you are finished for the washing part, start rinsing your pet thoroughly. If you leave shampoo on the ferret’s fur /skin too long, the skin can dry out quickly so you should rinse your pet right after washing it. If you prefer to use a conditioner, the process is the same as with shampoo.
At the end use a warm towel to dry it, again because ferrets can get cold easily. Ferrets usually do not have time to wait for you to dry every hair they have but try to remove as much water as possible with that first towel. After that you will probably be chasing your pet to make sure it is not to wet.
In the end, let it go, just before that prepare clean and warm towels where he can roll and rub and finish the drying process by himself. Never use a hairdryer as noise can frighten your ferret and direct heat can be an unpleasant experience.
Make sure the cage is clean, as well as the bedding, same as the litter bowl. I am sure you are cleaning these items more often than your ferret ( as it should be ) but when you bath your ferret once a month or even less often, you should make certain that things that ferret uses the most are clean. Moreover, because these things can also be a source of the ferrets bad smell.
Regular brushing is great for your ferret’s fur. Ferrets usually do not have time to let you brush them for long so you should do quick brushing more often. Brushing is great for hairballs prevention and makes your pet’s fur looks great. You can use a soft brush for kittens.
You should clean your pet’s ears at least once in every two weeks. Ferrets normally have wax in their ears and normal color goes from light brown to reddish. Wax color change can indicate some ear infection or the presence of ear mites.
For ear cleaning use some ear cleaning solution. You can ask your vet for advice, it can be a solution either for dogs, cats, or small animals. The best would be the one made for kittens. Start the cleaning by putting a few drops in each ear, then massage it and let the ferret shake the head if it wants to.
A cotton swab can be used but only for the outer area of the ear, never try to use it for the inner part.
Important note !
If you notice that your ferret is scratching its ears, or earwax has a bad smell, and it is dark brown or black colored contact your vet, as your ferret might be suffering from an ear infection or ear mites..
You should be trimming your ferret’s nails at least once a week or even more often if they grow fast. You can use nail clippers for cats or even some small human clippers.
Ferrets nails parts important for this story are – the quick and tip of the nail. You should cut off the tip of the nail avoiding to cut into the quick ( the part of the nail where nerve endings are, as well as blood vessels ). Most of the ferrets have light nails so the quick is visible(pink part )so you can cut the nail just in front of the pink part.
The problem is if your ferret has dark nails then you have to rely on your guessing where the quick starts. I found that would be the safest if you clip 1/4inches of ferrets nail tip.
As accidence can happen you should always keep close some styptic powder to stop the bleeding. Put a pinch of powder on the cut spot and press it. If you do not have this kind of powder you can use a bar of soap of a beeswax to press the nail into.
I found a really good advice on how to trim the nails without any problem. Place the ferret in your lap, it should lay down on its back. Put it some liquid treat on its belly and while it is licking its delicacy, you will have enough time to clip the nails. Your pet will be busy with its treatment and you can do your job without obstructions. You can also distract your pet with its favorite toy.
Cleaning teeth is a part of ferrets care that should not be neglected. This activity might not be easy but it is very useful for your ferret.
You should clean your pet’s teeth at least once a week or even more often especially if your ferret in on kibble diet. Always use toothpaste made for ferrets and never, ever used the one made for humans.
As a toothbrush you can use the one made for cats or simply take the small piece of gauze and wrap it around your finger ( similar as for babies and their first teeth ). Teeth cleaning must be gentle and always look after the gum line in order not to hurt it.
Regular cleaning teeth will reduce the amount of plaque .
All these grooming activities can be messy, difficult and time-consuming but I am sure you love your pet and you wish only the best for it.
Many of these sessions can become interesting or even adventurous filled with laughter. You actually can have a great time bathing and grooming your pet.
Here is a great video how ferrets enjoy a bath