If you own a pet Ferret, or are looking to get one soon, you may be wondering how to keep them clean? What about bathing? Is this possible, is it safe and should you do it? Having wondered this question myself, I decided to spend some time researching the topic. Here is what I have been able to find.
So, can you give a Ferret a bath? It is possible to bathe your pet Ferret. However, this should be done infrequently as it can lead to dry skin and a dry coat. This can be very problematic and painful for your Ferret. As such, you should bathe a Ferret at most 1-2 each month.
You will also need to ensure you are using a safe, specially formulated shampoo for small animals and rodents that is recommended by veterinarians.
So now you know that it is in fact possible, let us take a look at some of the other considerations to ensure your Ferret remains clean without compromising their well-being.
Why Would You Want To Bathe A Ferret?
If you are a new Ferret owner, then one of the things that you will need to get used to is their unique scent. This can be easily misconstrued as a sign that they need to be washed.
The truth is, Ferrets do have a particular scent that is quite strong and takes some getting use to. Unfortunately, this is a natural odor that comes from oils that are produced naturally on their skin.
Whilst bathing may seem like an appropriate course of action to reduce or eliminate the scent, you need to be aware that actually bathing a Ferret can lead to a worsening of such smells.
These oils are natural to Ferrets, and they need them on their skin. Therefore, bathing can actually act as a stimulus to increase the production of the oils.
The result is that in a couple of days, there is more oil to begin with and an increase in the Ferret odor you so desperately want to minimize.
So while in the short term a bath may lead to a reduction in the scent, its not an appropriate nor effective solution long-term.
Should You Give A Ferret A Bath?
This leads onto the next question in which you will likely have, should you even give your Ferret a bath considering the above?
The answer to this question is yes. While Ferrets do not require regular bathing like us humans and some other animals, it is still beneficial for them and for hygienic reasons to do so every so often. A good rule of thumb often recommended by experts is every 2-3 months.
The only exception of course is if your Ferret was to land or roll in something. For example if they have something sticky on them, or they land in mud/poop from another animal, a bath would be a good course of action.
The reason in why you want to limit the amount of bathing is because too much exposure to even well-formulated shampoos can lead to a drying out and cracking of the skin and their coats.
This can of course lead to long-term health complications through infection. It can also lead to the rise in conditions like Eczema whereby the skin becomes inflamed and very itchy.
This is of course not particularly comfortable for your Ferret and may even require long-term treatment which will incur you a cost.
What Can I Wash My Ferret With?
When it is time to wash your Ferret, you are going to need to ensure that you are using a safe, specially formulated shampoo that does not include any harsh chemicals.
You’ll also want to ensure it moisturizes the skin and does not leave it dry and likely to crack.
The Ferret Shampoo by PetPost is particualrly effective and is available for a great price on Amazon. It is used by many Ferret Pet Owners with great success and is often cited by Vets as the product to buy.
What To Expect When Bathing Your Ferret
When you bathe a Ferret it is important to be aware that it does not come natural to them.
While Ferrets love to play in the water, the experience can be largely uncomfortable to them if you fail to prepare appropriately in advance.
Here are some recommendations to ensure that bathing your Ferret goes according to plan:
The water that you bathe your Ferret in is very important. You should also consider that a Ferrets body temperature is warmer than it is for us Human’s so what may feel appropriate for you may not be for your pet.
Generally, water will feel warmer to us than it will a Ferret. You therefore need to get the right balance between warm and cold.
Either extreme will not suffice. You do not want to chill or scold your Ferret so make sure that you check the temperature multiple times before you start to bathe.
Only Use Ferret-Safe Products
Whilst already mentioned, it is paramount that you never use a Shampoo or a washing product intended for humans.
This is because these products often include chemicals and other elements that Ferrets can be allergic to.
Moreover, it is known that products designed for humans have a different PH than that of products for small animals and rodents.
Wash Your Ferret With Plenty of Water
It is also imperative that when you use a specially formulated Shampoo that you completely rinse it from your Ferret. You’ll want to run the water through your Ferrets coat multiple times and manually inspect it to ensure it is all gone.
Make sure that you double check areas whereby such products can congregate and collect; like under their armpits. Failing to do so can cause dryness, itching and other skin problems.
Clean your Ferret’s Ears
You should clean your Ferrets ears regularly – every 1-2 weeks. This is because Ferrets are prone to ear mites and other critters.
To clean your Ferrets ears you will want to use a cottons swab that has been dipped into some Ferret-safe ear cleaning solution (like this one on Amazon).
You’ll then want to gently and slowly clean their ears making sure you do not go too deep yet are thorough enough.
Brush Your Ferrets Teeth
Again this is another routine that should be undertaken every 1-2 weeks to prevent the buildup of plaque, tartar and other dental cavities.
There a variety of toothbrushes that you can easily insert onto the end of your finger to make the whole process a lot quicker. I routinely purchase these toothbrushes on Amazon because they are so affordable and cost effective.
After you have bathed your Ferret you are going to need to dry them. Using a small towel is a good way to do this as Ferrets tend to dry relatively quickly due to their short coats.
You will want to ensure they are completely dry because if you leave them slightly damp this can lead to them getting very cold very quickly.
If you did want to use a Hairdryer, whilst it is not recommended, you should only use a quiet one that you can put on a low setting.
Even then you are going to want to blow-dry them from quite a distance which can be problematic.
For the most part, a Towel is much safer and easier -especially if you are doing all the bathing and drying on your own!
Important Things To Consider During Bathing
Bathing a Ferret for the first or first couple of times can prove to be quite a challenge. Here are some important things you will want to consider that will also help this to be a more successful, less challenging time for you and your Ferret alike:
- Never use a Human Shampoo or product that has not been specially formulated for Ferrets
- Stick to a regular bathing schedule and be sure to bathe them at regular intervals throughout the year.
- Brushing Teeth, Cleaning Ears and Nail Clippings should be done a lot more regularly (one per week)
- Ease your Ferret into bathing slowly. Expect your Ferret to react when using Shampoo for the first time and you will likely experience and increase in fidgeting
- Bathe your Ferret by holding them with one hand and using the shampoo on them with your other. This prevents them from being able to move around energetically and you can keep them still and composed.
- Only hold your Ferret by the nape of the neck (like you would a Cat) if you have to. to do this do not raise your Ferret off the ground. Instead you’ll want to raise them just enough for them to become submissive. This should not hurt your Ferret is you are firm but cautious.
- Ensure the water is a mildly warm temperature – not too hot nor too cold.
- If you find bathing problematic, take them to the vet who can undertake this service on your behalf.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.