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To bathe a ferret or not to bathe a ferret; that is the dilemma. The pet community is divided over how often should you bathe a ferret. Most of this confusion is from the misinformation handed out by pseudo-professional websites and pet stores. In addition, humans are conditioned to bathe frequently to stay clean and healthy. So it makes sense that we will do the same with our pets. However, when it comes to ferrets, bathing often is not a good idea.
How often should you bathe your ferret?
You already know bathing your pet ferret is a controversial subject. If you are a person who does not like its musky scent, you may want to bathe your pet more often. Eventually, this will make things worse. The ferret’s skin contains natural oils that give off this scent. You may decide to use the best cleaning shampoo to reduce or get rid of the musky scent, but bathing temporarily strips the oils from the ferret’s skin. Once the ferret’s skin dries, it will naturally produce skin oil. The musky smell will get stronger a few days after bathing.
The musky scent is produced in the sebaceous glands, located in the ferret’s skin. It moisturizes the ferret’s skin. If you over bathe your ferret, these helpful oils are stripped away. Eventually the ferret’s skin will be itchy and dry. To correct this problem, the ferret’s skin automatically produces excess oil, resulting in a muskier smelling pet.
Excess bathing will dry out the coat and skin. Bathing once a month is sufficient for your ferret. If your pet gets into a lot of mud and dirt, then bathing it twice or thrice a month is okay too.
You might think once a month is not enough, but ferrets clean themselves every day. The licking process helps distribute the skin oils evenly. It also helps get rid of dirt and mud. This is why sticking to the once a month rule is important.
Another reason your ferret may need more baths is if the vet recommends a parasite or flea treatment. Sometimes ferrets have a condition where they produce too much oil. Conditions like blackheads on the tail can be treated with spot cleaning.
Let’s discuss some quick tips on maintaining ferret hygiene.
Preparing the right bathing conditions
Now that you know the answer to how often should you bathe a ferret, learning how to bathe it correctly is the next step.
First, use a gentle shampoo for your pet ferret. Opt for shampoos designed for ferrets. There are several reputable products in the market. If you’re not sure which one to pick, then speak to your vet. If a ferret shampoo is not available, consider shampoos made for kittens.
The second point to note is the water. Some ferrets like being in the water, while others will put up a fight. If this is your first time bathing your ferret, make it a pleasant experience. The first few bathing sessions will set the tone for future baths. If your pet is terrified of the water, take it slowly. If you panic or shout, your ferret will respond with agitation. Use your pet’s favorite treats, a pleasant tone, and gentle strokes when introducing your pet to bathing.
Where should you bathe your ferret? Use the kitchen sink or an infant bat
tub. Fill it up with sufficient water so that your ferret is submerged. The water mustn’t be too cold or hot. Place a towel in the tub so that your ferret gets traction
Now start with a good lather. Avoid putting shampoo into the ferret’s eyes or ears. In case it accidentally does get into these parts, rinse it well. Avoid leaving any shampoo traces. After it dries, it can irritate your ferret’s skin. You may have to refill the bath water a few times to ensure your pet is thoroughly rinsed.
Drying your pet ferret
To ensure there is no moisture on your ferret’s skin, use towel drying. This is enough to get out all the water and dry the skin thoroughly. Your ferret should not feel damp or chilled.
You might place clean towels in a tub and encourage your ferret to dry off by themselves. Ferrets do this by burrowing. Other ferrets are comfortable with blow dryers on low heat settings. If you plan to use a dryer, hold it a foot away from your ferret.
Once dry, do not put your pet back into its cage. Ensure it is thoroughly cleaned before doing so. Placing your ferret in a dirty cage will undo all your hard work.
Flea and parasite treatments will also determine how often should you bathe a ferret. Fleas carry harmful illnesses. If left unchecked, they can make your ferret very sick. If you suspect fleas, take your ferret to the vet. They will recommend an appropriate flea treatment. This is usually a ferret-safe flea shampoo. In addition, the vet will tell you how often you will have to shampoo your ferret.
Wondering what to use to cut your ferret’s nails? A pair of cat nail clippers works well. These nail clippers resemble small scissors that have a notch in its blade. Small-sized human nail cutters work just as well too.
While cutting the nail, cut only the sharp tip. Avoid cutting too far back. You might accidentally cut the quick. This is the portion that contains nerve endings and blood vessels. Cutting this portion may cause bleeding and discomfort. Ferrets have translucent nails. The quick is noticeable because it is pink in color. Cut enough so that you leave some nail in front of this pink portion.
In case your ferret’s nails are dark, you will have to guess according to shape. The tip will appear hollow and pointed when viewed from below. If it is still difficult, cut only a quarter of the tip.
What should you do if you nick the quick? Keep some cotton at hand. Apply gentle pressure at the bleed site. Ensure the blood is wiped away before placing your ferret back into its cage.
If cutting your ferret’s nails scares you, visit your vet or a pet groomer.
Brushing your ferret’s fur
Like dogs, ferrets benefit from daily fur brushing. It keeps their coat shiny and healthy. It also minimizes fur loss. Ferrets have a tendency to ingest their fur while licking. This creates hairballs in their stomach which eventually cause stomach issues. To prevent hairballs, give preventative care. These are gels that can be given as treats.
When it comes to brushing, most ferrets are not keen about sitting through a brushing session. You have to keep the brushing sessions short and fast. Use a brush with short and soft bristles, such those used for cats. You may also try rubber grooming brushes. These are excellent for collecting loose hair.
Cleaning the ears
Wax build up is a common occurrence in ferrets. Regular cleaning will prevent excess wax, keeping infections at bay. Ear wax is brownish red or red. The texture is sticky. With routine cleaning, you will notice changes in the texture, color, and quantity of the ear wax. If you notice a change, it can be due to ear mites or an infection. In this case, visit the vet.
How do you clean the ears? Use a mild solution recommended by the vet. A product that is safe for kittens may be used for your ferret. Place a few drops inside its ear and massage the area. Your ferret may start shaking its head. This will help dislodge the wax. It’s a messy process but necessary. You may use a cotton swab dipped in the cleanser to clean out the ear. Avoid pushing the ear bud into the ear canal. This may be challenging if your ferret is squirming.
How do you know if there are ear mites? You will notice large amounts of black or dark brown wax. The wax will smell foul. Another indication is if your ferret keeps shaking its head or scratching its ears.
As in humans, regular teeth brushing is an excellent preventative measure. Brush your pet ferret’s teeth once a week. This is not an easy step, however getting your ferret into this routine will help avoid dental issues in the future.
Use a finger brush or toothbrush used for cats. A finger brush is a rubber tube that slides over your finger. The toothbrush will have a long handle with a small head filled with soft bristles. You may use a liquid toothpaste meant for ferrets. Avoid using your toothpaste. The ingredients are toxic for a ferret. If you’re unsure about which product to use, speak to your veterinarian.
Start from the outside surfaces and gums. Always apply gentle pressure, especially to the gums. As with other grooming methods, you need to be patient. Your ferret may resist and even run away. As with all ferret care routines, take it slowly. Use rewards and verbal praise.
How often should you bathe a ferret? Stick to it once a month. Other hygiene steps should be carried out more often. A healthy ferret is a happy ferret.