Ferret Bathing and Grooming

Your ferret has personal hygiene needs similar to a human child. Bathing, ear cleaning, nail clipping, coat and skin care, dental care and parasite control are all part of the package for proper care of your pet ferret.

Things to attend to daily:

– Dry grooming. Your ferret should be brushed and powdered every day. Use a gentle hand and brush him thoroughly with a cat brush. This will keep him smelling fresh and clean.

Things to attend to weekly:

– Wet grooming. Schedule a bath for your ferret once a week. Some ferrets will make this an easy task. Others will make this chore a bit more challenging. If your ferret likes being in water you can wet him in the sink or even in the shower. Using a ferret shampoo (or one for kittens in a pinch) put a dab on your wet ferret’s upper back. Using your fingers, lather him up toward his ears and down toward his tail. Be careful to avoid getting shampoo in either his ears or eyes as this might be painful. Rinse him thoroughly and dry him off with a soft towel. If your ferret is skittish about getting wet go to plan B. Using a double sink fill both sides with warm water. Holding your ferret securely dip him in the first sink to wet his coat. Shampoo him as above. Dip him in the second sink to rinse him off, gently rinsing out the shampoo with your fingers.

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– Teeth care. Your ferret’s teeth will naturally accumulate tartar from the food he eats. Depending upon his diet, this can be more or less of a problem. A dry food diet tends to help control tartar naturally. The best strategy is to have your ferret’s teeth cleaned any time he goes to the veterinarian. Starting from that point, every week make it a point to check his teeth and scrape them with your fingernail.

Things to do every other week or once a month (as necessary):

– Ear cleaning. Clearing your ferret’s ears of earwax is important for his health and comfort. It also gives you the chance to check for ear mites. This is a two man (or woman) operation. Have your helper pick up your ferret by the scruff while gently cradling his body with their other hand. Using an ear solution designed for cats or kittens, dip the cotton swab in the liquid and clean the ear starting from the outside making sure not to push any foreign matter further into the ear. Another swab can be used dry to absorb any excess fluid left by the cleaning. Repeat the process on the other ear with fresh swabs.

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– Parasites. Use the opportunity of the ear cleaning to check your ferret for parasites other than the ear mite. Look carefully for signs of fleas and ticks. If needed, apply veterinarian approved remedies for such parasites.

– Nail trimming. The need for nail trimming will vary from ferret to ferret. If the nail grows too long you stand the risk of it being snagged on things like carpeting and tearing off. Always make sure there is plenty of light. You must be able to see where the vein is in the nail. Cutting too close will cause bleeding and pain. You can use regular nail clippers or buy special ones. Cut the nail at least an eighth of an inch below the vein. Having a friend hold your ferret while you cut his nails is a good plan of action.

As you can see, caring for your ferret’s bathing and other hygiene needs is quite a job. Your willingness to do these chores is an expression of your love for your furry friend.


by Dr. Arthur Young

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