Those new to ownership will often wonder how many times they should wash their ferret. You’ve no doubt heard how too frequently washing them could get rid of their natural protective oils in the skin, so what are the best guidelines for how often you should be bathing your new pet?
How often should I bathe my ferret? You should bathe and wash your ferret no more than once every two to three months, unless they are very dirty and need immediate cleaning. Ferrets lick and clean themselves so do not need regular washing by their owners.
Whilst we all know how much ferrets will smell, you really should not be bathing them once a week, or even once a month. Bathing your ferret too frequently will dry out its skin and strip away the natural oils that keep it healthy.
Before you start planning on when to next wash your ferret though, please do read my full guidance below. It includes tips on how to wash a ferret, and what special shampoo to use which won’t harm them.
How many times should I wash my ferret?
As I previously explained, as a rule of thumb you can wash your ferret perhaps 6 times a year, or once every couple of months. Longer haired ferrets might need more regularly washing and help, as the more hair a ferret has, the dirtier it gets.
When should you wash a ferret?
Whilst those guidelines are intended to be very generic, you should pay attention to how your ferret smells and appears, particularly if they are not washing themselves as well as they could be – this can be the case with elderly ferrets who lose some mobility.
Ferrets do not produce body odor as humans do, but have a natural musky smell. If you don’t take your ferret out of his cage regularly, he might start to stink out the house, which indicates it is time for a good bath.
If not though, you might only have to bathe your ferret once or twice a year.
How to clean a ferret
Now you have some idea on how many times you should bathe a ferret, here’s how you wash your new pet – plus which shampoo is best for ferrets.
1. Brush your ferret first
Start cleaning your ferret by giving it a quick brush beforehand. Many people get their pet ferret used to being brushed beforehand, so they are less likely to struggle during bathing sessions.
A damp or dry towel or bristle brush might be helpful.
2. Make sure you have a safe and clean bathing environment
Clean and wash your ferret outside unless you have a bathtub with a good seal around the drain. Ensure there is nothing in the tub that your pet can get to and cause harm.
3. Put a towel at the bottom of the tub or bowl
Place a thick towel or washcloth in the bottom of the basin or large bowel. The towel will stop your ferret from slipping or getting hurt during the bathing.
Your ferret will then be safe and can start enjoying the sensation of the water on its skin.
4. Get the water to the correct temperature
Turn on the hot water and fill up the basin or bowl about halfway. Do not use boiling water as it can easily scald your ferret. The water should be more than warm, but not hot. Test the temperature on your inner forearm before placing your pet in the water.
If you cannot tolerate it, then your ferret won’t like it much either.
5. Use specially medicated ferret shampoo
When you bathe your ferret, consider using a specialist cleaning product such as this ferret shampoo on Amazon. Marshalls ferret shampoo is silky and moisturizing formula, especially designed to be safe for ferrets.
Alternatively, you can use a very, very mild soap, shampoo, and conditioner if you prefer!
However, I would always err on the side of caution and purchase something specifically designed for animals without any alcohol or fragrance. Normal shampoos can dry the skin and coat of your ferret.
6. Clean and bathe the ferret with shampoo
Rub the shampoo into its fur until it lathers up nicely. It may take a few minutes, depending on how dirty the pet is.
Rinse thoroughly until all traces of shampoo are complete. You can also use a washcloth or sponge to make sure you get all the soap out.
7. Rinse thoroughly and dry
Rinse your ferret’s face with cold water to close the tear ducts on the lids, which are prone to infection if left open for too long after bathing. Alternatively, you can gently dab at the eyes using a soft damp towel.
You can then pat dry with a towel or hairdryer, depending on how much time you have. You may also want to use a blow drier instead of towels if your pet seems to get chilly after a bath.
Some ferrets will fear hair dryers, so take it slowly and be prepared to hand dry if the ferret become nervous.
Some people may prefer using a hairdryer on their pets while others may not. It is good to use the method that best suits you. On the flip side, if your ferret enjoys the hair drier blowing, he may have more fun outside his cage during bath time because he will associate it with pleasure!
Ensure they are dry before putting them back in their cage. A completely dry fur lowers the chances of bacteria multiplying on your pet’s coat.
10. Brush your ferret
After bathing and drying your ferret, comb to take out any clumps that may still be present. You can also use a flea comb (view on Amazon) to get rid of tangles and start off grooming your ferret regularly if you want them to look their best about every week or so.
11. Treat and make a fuss of the ferret
Make sure to treat your pet with something special after bathing to avoid the “Oh no! I’m wet, you should give me treats!” confusion.
Treats or grooming is a great way to encourage your ferret to enjoy bath time and other grooming sessions.
Finally, wash the towels and other items thoroughly after use, as ferrets can carry a lot of bacteria on their fur.
I hope this method of how to wash a ferret works for you!
Ferret bathing tips
Now you know how often to bathe a ferret and how to clean a ferret, here’s some more tips I found on social media.
- Please pay attention to your ferret’s movements and breathing while you bathe them. If they appear to be groggy or breathing is labored, it may signify that the water is too hot. Ferrets are known to drown in as little as an inch of water if not closely monitored.
- Never hold your ferret by the scruff of their neck. Doing this will put a lot of strain on their neck muscles and cause severe injury or permanent damage.
- If you wish to bathe your ferret outside the shower, tub, or basin, make sure that they are completely safe in case of a fall.
- Make sure that the water temperature is not too hot or too cold. You can test this by putting your hand into the basin or tub before placing your pet in there. If it feels hot to you but not scalding, then it should be fine for your ferret.
- Be careful to avoid getting shampoo or water in their ears. It is reported that bacterial infection in the ears is caused by water or shampoo entry in the openings. The infection can be very uncomfortable and painful to your pet if not treated early enough. Ferrets have sensitive eyes – do not get any soap in there either!
- Mild soap or shampoo is best for a ferret’s delicate skin. Avoid perfumed shampoos as they may irritate the ferret’s sensitive eyes and nose.
- If you opt to dry your pet off with a towel, it is advisable to make sure it has never been used by anyone before. A clean and unused towel will be more comfortable for your ferret and can be washed easily after use.
- Do not buy a towel that is too small to wrap around your pet. A small towel does not completely dry off the ferret, and it may cause harm to your pet in the case of an accident. Make sure to keep the tail out of the way when drying it; you do not want to pull the tail off accidentally.
- If your pet doesn’t seem to like bathing, it is good to find out the reason. If the cause is water around the eyes after a bath, put a little extra effort into making sure you get all the soap out of their fur after they are dried off.
- If it seems they dislike bathing in general, there may be something that they don’t like about their cage or environment. Try to change things up and make bathing time as enjoyable as it can be.
Why do ferrets go crazy after a bath?
After you have bathed your ferret once, you will quickly see the manic behavior they often exhibit after a wash. Don’t be surprised if your ferret appears to go crazy after bathing, it’s very normal.
But why do ferrets go crazy after a bath?
Great question, and the honest answer is nobody really knows! What I can compare it to is my dog. When I bathe my dog, he will shake himself off like mad and get the “zoomies”. I imagine it could be an instinctive thing where he things he’s shaking water off.
Handy Hint: Here’s a guide you can follow to help get rid of any nasty and lingering ferret odors in your home.
How often should I clean my ferret’s cage?
You should clean a ferret’s cage constantly. For example, every day you should epty and wash any litter trays, clean up any poops, and taken any food that’s not been eaten out of the cage.
Handy Hint: Here’s how often ferrets should be pooping and peeing each day, so you know to monitor for any problems.
The ferret’s drinking water should also be replaced.
Then once a week you should be cleaning the water bottles and food trays, and completely disinfecting the cage and tray it sits on. That includes the bars and any toys also in the cage.
Ferrets are naturally clean animals so there’s no need to bathe a ferret once a week, or even once a month. In fact, unless your ferret needs to be washed, you might avoid it altogether.
You might also like…
- How much it costs to keep ferrets
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- The wide range of noises and sounds ferrets make
Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/ferret-animal-pet-2640634/