Date: July 7th, 2010
Even though ferrets can groom themselves, they still require routine cleaning and maintenance in order to look and feel their best. I will outline four basic steps to grooming your ferret that all pet owners should follow:
- Brushing Teeth – Ferrets need their teeth cleaned anywhere from once a week to once every other week depending on your pet’s diet. Ferrets that eat softer foods should have their teeth brushed more frequently (once a week) versus ferrets that eat a dry food diet (once every two weeks). The first time you brush your ferret’s teeth may be difficult, but with time and patience your pet should become used to the routine. Using a pet toothbrush and toothpaste, brush slowly and gently, beginning at the molars and working up to the front canines and incisors. Pay special attention to the molars, as this area is most prone to tarter and plaque buildup. Even with regular cleaning at home, most ferrets will require a professional cleaning performed by a veterinarian once every one to two years.
- Cleaning Ears – Clean your ferret’s ears weekly to prevent infection, ear mites, and unpleasant odor. Squirt a few drops of ear cleaning solution into your ferret’s ears and massage the ear to work the cleaner inside. This should loosen any accumulated wax, which you can then remove with a cotton swab. Continue cleaning with cotton swabs until the ear is clean. As long as you clean gently, you should not injure your pet; ferret’s ear canals are shaped like an “L,” so it is difficult to injure the eardrum. Lastly, watch out for black or dark-colored earwax, as this can be an indication of ear mites. Contact your local veterinarian if these symptoms are observed.
- Clipping Nails – Your pet’s nails should be clipped twice a month. This decreases the chance of the nails snagging on surfaces and potentially ripping off. The supplies that you will need include: cat or ferret nail clippers, styptic powder (in case you clip too close), and a treat. Roll your ferret over onto their back and hold them on your lap. Place a treat on their belly and while they are occupied clip the nails, being careful to avoid the quick (the pink vein running through the nail). If you accidentally clip the quick, the styptic powder will help to stop any bleeding.
- Bathing – How often you bathe your ferret is up to you, but I recommended that you do not bathe your ferret more than once a month. Over-bathing your ferret is harmful, as it causes the skin to dry out and leaves your pet itchy and uncomfortable. Bathing too frequently will also cause problems; the oil glands become over productive, resulting in an unpleasant odor. When you do decide to give your ferret a bath, use shampoo specifically formulated for ferrets because the pH-balanced shampoo is created just for their skin. Also, because a ferret’s normal body temperature is between 101o and 103o, it’s important that the water is warm. Anything that feels lukewarm or cooler will be too cold for your ferret. Do not overfill your sink or tub. When your ferret stands up their head should be above the water level. Be sure to rinse thoroughly after shampooing, as any left over suds will irritate your ferret’s skin. Dry your pet with a towel as much as possible, then place him on the bunched-up towel so that he can finish drying himself, or try a drying sack made just for your pet.
If you have any questions regarding your pet ferret, send me an email at AskMax@CountryMax.com, or visit your local CountryMax store.
Additional Resources: http://www.ferret.com/ferret-articles/how-to-groom-a-ferret/7/, http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?aid=1854