How Bad Do Ferrets Smell?


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If you are wondering how bad do ferrets smell, let us start from the beginning. All ferrets have a smell of their own similar to other pets. While some people are fond of their musky odor, there are a few people who do not like the smell or not. The third category of people falls in between these two sections. If you have a pet ferret, this guide will come in handy for you. It is imperative to note that un-neutered male ferrets typically emit a strong odor. Younger ones also have a sharp and peculiar smell that may go away when they grow up a bit.

Thus, it is right that ferrets can smell. However, whether they will stink or not depends on a host of factors. It also includes how sensitive an individual’s olfactory glands are. However, even the most ardent ferret lover is aware that everyone will not like his pet ferret’s smell. Do not worry as there are ways of controlling the same.

A majority of ferret owners get used to their pet ferrets’ musky smell after some time. Most of the time, though, the ferret smell comes when their cage is not clean. It specifically happens since a ferret’s digestive tract is very small. It means they pee and poop quite frequently. There is a couple of things that can be done to reduce the odor of your ferret. You should make sure that their bedding is cleaned more frequently and bathing them less regularly.

Before we cover how to deal with the smell, let us now see how that distinctive smell occurs in the first place.

Oily skin

At the outset, it has to be understood that ferrets are smelly pets by default. That is because they have plenty of oil glands on their skin. However, the oily skin generates a particular scent, which may not be the same in all ferrets. You can compare a ferret’s smell with a dog’s smell. Surprisingly, there are a few people who even like this smell.

Anal glands

The anal glands of your ferret can also cause a pungent smell. Do not forget that a ferret is considered to be a skunk’s distant relative. As such, it uses the anal scent glands in a defensive manner. It is possible that your vet may decide to remove the anal sacs of the ferret. It is a fairly simple surgical procedure. However, while this de-scenting procedure does not remove the entire smell, it reduces the smell considerably.

Musky smell

Your ferret exudes the musky scent, which emits from its skin. In case you have ever observed that the fur of your ferret appears greasy, it simply means that the sebaceous glands are hyperactive. Also, there is a link between sex and skin glands. As such, you will find ferrets that are mating exude more smell.

In case someone in your family or you cannot tolerate the odor of the ferret, it is better to rethink whether you really want a ferret as your pet or not. Alternatively, you can restrict your pet ferret to one specific area or room of your home. After all, your pet should be kept out of its age for several hours in a day so that it can exercise properly.

How bad do ferrets smell when suffering from an ailment?

Here are some of the major reasons why your pet ferret can specifically smell bad. Check them out below:

1. Adrenal disease

It is a common health-related issue faced by all ferrets. The disease can lead to unrestrained growth of their adrenal glands. The disease can even cause tumors on your ferret’s adrenal glands. Its body will generate too many hormones leading to a foul smell. The proportion of bad smell will depend on what type of hormone was produced excessively.

2. Mating season

Whenever the mating season for your ferrets arrives, an unneutered male ferret can secret more oil in the skin. As a result, the smell will be greater than usual. After the mating season ends, male ferrets will have normal skin. The odor will also be milder than before. Such a bad smell can be prevented by neutering the male ferret. It is a recommended act when ferrets are not meant to be bred.

3. Infections

Your ferret may suffer from bacterial or yeast infections. If your ferret is suffering from such an infection, it will usually have itchy ears. Additionally, its skin will be smelly and irritated. These infections can be treated by visiting your vet and administering the right treatment to them. As soon as its infection is treated, the bad smell will disappear.

Some other diseases are also there, which exude a foul smell. Do you observe that your pet ferret is emitting a foul smell, which is not because of the litter box or the cage? It means you need to consult a vet as soon as possible.

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How to deal with the smell?

Here are some of the steps a ferret owner can consider following to keep the smell at bay:

1. Make sure that their ears remain clean

The ears of a ferret can get excessively waxy, leading to a musky and strong smell. You can use an ear cleaner meant for your pets to clean their ears. A moistened Q-tip should be used on the ear’s outer part. Make sure that the Q-tip is not pushed inside the ear canal as there is a risk of damaging its eardrum when you do so. The ears of your ferret should be cleaned on a weekly basis to get the best results.

2. Bathing

If your ferret smells really bad, a bath may help. At the same time, it is imperative to remember that we do not bathe it too frequently. Every time you give a bath to your ferret, the oils from its skins will get removed. It will produce more results leading to your ferret smelling even more than before. It is recommended that you give a bath to your ferret just once a month. You may even reduce it to once in a quarter unless its fur is dirty.

Avoid using a shampoo, which is meant for human beings while bathing it. Use only special shampoos available in the market for ferrets. When you do not get such a shampoo easily, you may also opt for a shampoo meant for kittens.

3. The ferret cage should be cleaned regularly

On the majority of occasions, the odor you observe is not caused by a ferret. Rather it comes from the toys, bedding, or cage, which can absorb the odor. If your ferret comes in touch with any object placed inside the cage or the cage, the oil may get transferred to these objects. A smell is produced because of that, and they have to be cleaned at regular intervals.

Ideally, you should clean your ferret’s cage once every week. Additionally, the litter box has to be cleaned regularly so that smells are reduced. The litter box will be used by a ferret multiple times every day. The smells can be pretty intolerable based on what their diet is. The accessories of the cage such as toys, hammocks, and beds should be washed frequently.

4. Proper diet

Your ferret is carnivorous, which also means they should consume meet the way they are meant to do so. If you provide a high-quality diet to them along with meat, its body will absorb the nutrients, and they will poop less. Also, the poop will smell less. However, if you feed kibble to your ferret, which has less nutrition value, their poop will be smellier. When you opt for kibble, make sure to use one with good quality and meat. There should be no vegetables or fruits in it.

5. Bedding material

You should purchase a bedding material, which can absorb scent. However, stay away from dangerous materials such as cedar chips. There are people who use clothes as a bedding material on the floor of the cage. It can be a good option when you wash the cloth bedding regularly.

6. Neutering and spaying

In case your ferret has not been neutered or spayed, get it rectified at the earliest. Neutering can reduce aggressive behavior apart from improving smell. When a female ferret is not spayed, it can be in heat for an indefinite period.

A ferret is considered to be a clean pet. As such, it does not require too much grooming. For instance, you do not have to give it a bath more than once every month. Actually, over-grooming may have repercussions and make the smell even worse. A ferret typically likes to pee and poo in corners. Hence, it is a good idea to place the litter box, preferably in a corner. Alternatively, keep something to clean on one side of the cage. Clean it frequently as your ferret will come back every few hours.

Now that you have got an idea of how bad do ferrets smell, you are also familiar with how to deal with the smell. Simply follow the tips listed above and see and feel the difference.

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