Ferrets need grooming as much as any other pet. It might be exactly the same process but they still need a little bit of attention every week to remain healthy and happy. This includes brushing the coat, brushing the teeth, nail clipping, sometimes even a bath.
As long as you get your ferret used to the grooming process from a young age, it will be a pleasure to spend time with it and groom it. More than that, the grooming supplies are widely available and they’re not at all expensive.
In this article, we’ll talk about ferret grooming and how to do it properly.
Grooming Ferrets – How Much Work Is It?
Any animal you think of getting needs some type of grooming now and then and ferrets are not any different. But sadly, finding a ferret groomer is a lot harder than finding a cat or dog groomer. You might even have to go to another city to find one. This is why most ferret owners learn how to groom their pets.
Ferrets are known to sleep most of the time but when they’re awake they’re the most active creatures you’ve ever seen. This is why keeping a ferret in place long enough to groom him will be a bit of a challenge. It’s highly recommended to start grooming your ferret as soon as you get it so it can get used to the whole process.
Similar to cats, ferrets groom themselves a lot. They’re very clean pets, and some would say they’re even cleaner than cats. This is because they refuse to do their business in a dirty litter tray. But no matter how much your ferret grooms itself, it still needs a little bit of extra help to maintain a healthy and happy life.
You’ll need to find some really good treats that your ferret will love a lot and use those to bribe your super energetic fluffy friend to stay still during their grooming process. The treats might not always work so always get ready for multiple fast and short grooming processes one after the other.
Grooming your ferret comes with some extra work as well. If you place your freshly groomed ferret in the same dirty cage, everything can get ruined within an hour. This is why you’ll have to prepare a clean cage for the ferret after the grooming is done.
Ferrets and Baths – How To and How Often
As mentioned before, ferrets groom themselves a lot so baths are not a necessary. In fact, it’s only recommended to bathe your ferret once every three months or so, at most. You can also bathe them when they fall into something they really shouldn’t, and thanks to their mischievous behavior, that’s to be expected.
The reason why bathing them is a bad idea is because you won’t get rid of that musky smell with a bath, and frequent baths can cause skin irritations or other diseases. If you have a sensitive nose, you need to think things through before getting a ferret.
The musky smell comes from the oils their skin continuously produces to maintain healthy skin and coat. When you bathe a ferret, their body panics thinking it needs to produce a lot more oil to make up for the loss. This is why your ferret will actually stink worse the few days after a bath.
But as mentioned before, sometimes you don’t have another choice. So it’s important to be as gentle and friendly as possible, to talk sweetly with your ferret throughout the whole process, and even invest in some waterproof ferret-safe toys. This will make them associate the bath with playtime.
Using a bathtub will give your ferret a lot of space to roam and get used to the feeling. It’s a good idea if your ferret likes or is not necessarily bothered by water. If the ferret doesn’t like water, you might want a smaller place where you can control everything. The sink or a basin are great choices as well.
The water should always be slightly warm to the touch and never hot. A rubber mat or a towel at the bottom of the bathtub or sink will offer your ferret more security and safe footing. The first few baths will set the tone for the rest of them.
You should use a shampoo that’s made for ferrets, kittens, or tearless baby shampoo. These are the safest options for your furry friend. Softly massage its entire body with the shampoo and rinse it thoroughly a couple of times. Dried shampoo can cause irritations.
Be careful to avoid the eyes and the ears. If you do get shampoo in there you can rinse them with clean water very well. And if you notice any side effects, take your ferret to the vet as fast as possible.
How to dry a ferret after a bath
Drying a ferret is a very easy job as they love getting lots of attention and getting pampered. All you need to do is take a few clean towels and slowly and gently go over his entire body. You can also let them dry by themselves if you prepared a place with towels where they can burrow and dry on their own.
If you don’t have a specific place, you can put some towels in the empty bathtub and let your ferret dry itself there. Whatever you do, don’t place them back inside the dirty cage. Always have a clean cage and clean litter after the bath.
While drying the ferret you can also clean their muzzles. Take a small piece of towel, dip it in warm water, squeeze some of the extra water, then slowly go all over your ferret’s face with the towel. Use gentle moves and talk to them as sweetly as possible.
Some ferrets might even love blow-drying and not get spooked by the noise it makes. But if you use the blow drier, make sure it’s only set on the lowest setting and you keep it at least a foot away from the ferret. You might even opt for a combination of towel drying and blow-drying.
Brushing Ferret Coats
Your ferret’s coat also needs a little bit of help to remain healthy and in good condition. This is why brushing is a must, especially when it’s the shedding season. Your ferret will start grooming itself more and more which can cause hairballs. Brushing can prevent that.
But even with regular brushing hairballs can happen. Giving them a hairball preventative can ensure they won’t have to deal with that. The preventative comes in form of a malt-flavored gel in a tube. Ferrets see this as a treat and will very rarely refuse it.
The brushing process will give a little bit of work as your ferret might just not have the patience for it. It’s recommended to move as fast as possible and brush its coat in short intervals. Give it a few brakes throughout the entire brushing process so you wouldn’t have to deal with an impatient ferret the entire time.
You can find brushes that are specifically made for brushing ferrets. But you can also use those that are designed for cats or kittens. It’s important to use a soft, short-bristles brush that can get as much of the loose hair off the coat as possible.
It’s always best to start “fake-brushing” your ferret from an early age. This will help it get used to the whole brushing process and stop being so annoyed by it. You can also try some high-quality treats while grooming. Give it a small treat it loves after every minute it stays still for brushing.
Nail Trimming For Ferrets
Trimming a ferret’s nails is one of the easiest jobs. But it’s also the one thing many owners avoid doing at all times because doing it wrong can seriously hurt the pet. All you need is to start slowly and be very careful about how you handle the ferret and how you cut the nail.
It’s recommended to start trimming your ferret’s nails often so both you and the ferret can get used to it. This can be done by only cutting a very small piece of the nail each time. After a few tries, you will notice how easy it is to cut the nails and that it’s actually harder to keep the ferret in place for that long.
There are nail clippers meant for cats which do an excellent job for ferrets as well. They look like small scissors with a little notch in the blade. Nail clippers designed for humans are not the best because they might pinch the nail before cutting it. This might make your pet uncomfortable.
When cutting your ferret’s nails it’s extremely important to cut only the sharp tip of the nail and not the quick. It’s best to keep a bit of distance from the quick as well as cutting too close to it can also cause pain. If you don’t trust yourself with it, then a vet or a cat or dog groomer can do it for you.
The quick is the part of the nail that contains the nerve endings and the blood vessels. It’s pink while the rest of the nail is white or translucent. And since most ferrets have clear nails, safe nail clipping is pretty easy.
However, it’s not impossible to do if your pet has dark nails. All you have to do is pay close attention to the shape of the nail as the tip is usually very narrow and looks hollow when viewed from the bottom. The safest thing to do is clip 1/4 inch of the nail tip once a month.
If you have an accident and the nail starts bleeding very slightly, you can apply pressure to the tip of the nail. But when it comes to serious bleeding, use a powder that is capable of stopping the bleeding. Apply it to the nail after wiping out the blood.
You can use Kwik-Stop powder, commercial styptic powder products, and if you need a substitute you can use cornstarch or flour. Another option is pressing the nail into a bar of soap of beeswax.
Cleaning a Ferret’s Ears
Ferrets are known to have some pretty waxy ears and keeping them clean is a must. This will prevent ear mites (which are very common), infections, etc. Their ear wax should be a light brown or reddish in color. If it has another color it can be a sign of ear problems.
Cleaning their ears is very easy but it needs to be done in a bathroom. Use a mild ear-cleaning solution from the pet store or vet. If it’s safe for kittens, it’s safe for ferrets. Put a few drops in each ear and massage it for a while. After that, your ferret will naturally shake its head and dislodge the wax.
The downside of this method is that it can be very messy and if you’re not in a bathroom you’ll have a hard time cleaning the wax off the walls. But it’s the safest way. And the external part of the ear can be wiped with a cotton-tipped swab that’s been dipped in the ear cleaner.
Be careful and don’t push the wax down the ear canal. If you notice some problems you should get your ferret to the vet. This includes stinky ears, dark brown or black wax, or if your ferret is shaking, scratching, or tilting its head.
Ferrets can develop various teeth problems if they’re neglected. This is why teeth brushing is something you’ll have to do each time the grooming day comes, typically, once a week. You should also prepare for the hardest part of the grooming process.
A toothbrush designed for cats will be good for ferrets as well. Never use human toothpaste for this. Instead, use the favorite liquid/gel vitamin supplement of the ferrets’. Then you can start wiping their teeth with the cat toothbrush.
Focus on the outside surfaces of the teeth along with the gums the first few times, especially on the gum line. Naturally, your ferret will hate it at first, but with time, it will start seeing it as part of its grooming routine. Patience is always the key to ferret grooming.