Ferret bathing – How To and How Often

Ferrets and bathing don’t mix up too well, especially if your pet hates water. In general, ferrets love water but this doesn’t mean that they should spend a lot of time bathing. This is also why you should be careful with bathing and you should only do it when you absolutely have to. Otherwise, a simple bath that looks enjoyable to you can cause a lot more harm than good.

In this article, we’ll talk about ferrets and whether bathing them is a good idea or not.

Ferret Bathing, How Often Should You Do It?

Dark-eyed White Ferrets
Source: riana’s Animations

Bathing your ferret is not very difficult, especially if it likes water and you did a great job introducing it to baths. But if your pet is terrified of water, it’s best to find other alternatives of cleaning it as there’s no need to put it through so much stress. Generally, a ferret should only be bathed if it got into something that cannot be cleaned any other way. And since they are very curious and mischievous creatures, this can happen from time to time.

Try to ferret-proof your home so you won’t have to deal with a messy ferret every other day. You should never bathe your ferret more than once a month. Its body needs time to replace all the necessary oils you just washed as your pet can get sick without them. And if the smell is the only reason you want to bathe your ferret, one bath every three months is already more than enough.

If you are good at keeping the pet’s smell under control by using other methods, then bathing the ferret isn’t even necessary at all. The only reason you could place the ferret in the bathtub is for playtime. But this should also only happen very rarely and you should never add anything to the water. Your ferret will drink from the water if it feels thirsty.

Is it okay to bathe a ferret?

Bathing a ferret means stripping it of all its natural oils that give them that musky smell so many owners complain about. However, these oils are very important for your pet and you cannot just wash them off and replace them with some better-smelling oils you find in a store. Their oils contain everything they need to maintain healthy skin and beautiful fur.

If you have an extra smelly ferret, it means its body keeps producing more oils than usual and you need to figure out why. If it’s a normal thing, then all you can do is bathe your ferret once a month and keep it under control the rest of the time. However, their bodies can start producing more and more oils after a bath. And too many baths can actually worsen the smell. This is why the ferret smells worse the first few days after a bath.

You should also take the time and learn how to introduce your ferret to baths properly so it won’t get aggressive and stressed while washing them. If bathing your pet is a nightmare for both you and it, you might want to talk to your exotic vet about what other options you have.

How to Give Your Ferret a Bath

The temperature of the water is very important. Check it with your elbow, the same way you’d check a baby’s bath. Ferrets have a higher body temperature and if the water is too hot they will start to panic and try to get out. They handle cooler environments much better. But the water shouldn’t be cold either. If you can barely notice that it’s warm, then that’s enough.

Then you need to introduce your cute little ball of fur to the bath. If you have multiple ferrets, bathe them one at a time unless they are well-adjusted to baths and can be washed together. They’ll love playing together in the water. Add a few waterproof toys and start playing with your pet. It’s important to give it a few minutes of playtime before starting to wash it so it can get used to the water.

Next, you have to get the shampoo ready. You can use ferret shampoo, baby shampoo, or you can buy a bottle of oatmeal bath which is oatmeal-infused water. Keep the water and shampoo away from the ferret’s face and ears and start rubbing its entire body very softly. If it has stubborn patches, get a toothbrush to wash them properly. A toothbrush is also great for their head, ears, and face.

Another way to wash their face is to wet the corner of a soft towel (without adding shampoo), and softly wiping your pet’s face. This works with pretty much any pet and is the most recommended method so they won’t panic.

The last step is drying the ferret and you can easily do it with a towel. You can play with your pet in your arms while you’re drying it, or you can place a few clean towels somewhere and let the ferret burrow itself in there and dry itself out.

Do ferrets like warm baths?

A ferret’s body temperature ranges between 100 and 104F degrees. For context, the normal body temperature of a human is between 97F and 99F degrees. Ferrets cannot handle hot weather too well and you need to be very careful about warm baths.

Unless your vet recommends it because your pet is sick, you should avoid giving your ferret a warm bath. These creatures come from the Northern Hemisphere and their bodies are made to withstand cold temperatures, not hot weather.

Why do ferrets go crazy after a bath?

After a bath, ferrets tend to go on a running spree around the house. No one really knows for sure why they do that, but the most realistic theory is that they simply don’t like being wet. And if you notice your ferret’s behavior after a bath, you will quickly agree as well. They do a dance around the room and they start to try and dry themselves on the carpet, couch, and anything they can find.

This is perfectly normal and it never lasts for too long. It’s just another quirky thing you need to get used to when it comes to owning a ferret.

Can I use baby wipes on my ferret?

If your ferret’s smell is getting out of control and it’s too soon for a bath, you can use some baby wipes to get rid of some of the smell. Sometimes their bodies start producing way too much oil and the fur gets very oily and stinky. Use a baby wipe to gently wipe some of that oil and the problem will be solved.

But make sure the baby wipes are 100% safe and that they don’t contain alcohol, weird fragrances, or anything that might irritate the ferret’s skin. It’s best to find another way to deal with the smell if you cannot find safe baby wipes around you.

One good alternative is to add half a bag of oatmeal flakes to water and wait for about 30 minutes. Then you need to rinse the water and place a soft towel in it. Squeeze the towel very well and use it to wipe some of the oils off the ferret. Oatmeal is great for sensitive skin and it won’t cause any irritations.

What soap is safe for ferrets?

Soaps are a very bad idea for ferrets, no matter how good they are for you. Even if they are marketed towards sensitive skin, you should still keep them away from ferrets. Their skin is a lot more sensitive than ours and even sleeping in your shirt can cause irritation for them because of the laundry detergent. This means you need to be very careful about what you’re washing your pet with.

The only type of soap that might be good for ferrets is baby soap. It’s made to be as bland as possible and they shouldn’t contain any chemicals at all.

What can I wash my ferret with?

You have three different choices when it comes to washing your ferret. The first one is using a dedicated shampoo that is specifically designed for ferrets. This can be found in any exotic pet store and in many online shops. Ferret shampoo is 100% safe and the best option for ferrets but it can also be a bit pricey, which matters a lot when you have a whole business of ferrets at home.

Another option is baby shampoo. This is the most affordable option as baby shampoo is made for the most sensitive skin and has absolutely no chemicals. There’s nothing in a baby shampoo that can cause irritation. Use it like any regular shampoo and rinse well after that.

If you have a bit of money, you can invest in a bottle of Oatmeal Bath, which is oatmeal-infused water with some extra added things that are made to help calm your ferret’s skin. It’s 100% ferret-safe and it’s easy to use. You might have some problems finding it in a local exotic pet shop.

Does bathing help with a ferret’s smell?

Domesticated ferrets are descended from the European Polecat, which is well known for its ability to produce a very foul-smelling oil that it uses to mark its territory. This is why most ferrets come de-scented. This includes removing two of the glands that release this terrible smell. However, they also release this smell through their skin and this is something you will need to get used to.

A bath can help keep the smell under control only if your ferret’s body overproduces the oils and any other method fails. But even so, the first few days after a bath, your pet will smell even worse as the body tries to replace the oils as quickly as possible.

This is why bathing your ferret should only be used as a last resort and keeping their cage very clean does a better job at keeping the smell under control.