Bathing your Ferret: The Definitive Guide

Bathing your ferret (or ferrets) doesn’t have to be an ordeal. No, really. Stop laughing!

We’ve all gone through at least one ferret-washing episode where the soaped-up ferret ends up clinging to the top of our heads, nails firmly embedded in our delicate scalp skin. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tips for bathing your ferret with a minimum of trauma to you and to your ferret.

Make Your Ferret Feel Safe

No matter where you prefer to bathe your ferret one thing is key: make the environment as non-threatening as you can. That means don’t fill up a sink or tub so much that your ferret can’t stand in it. Make sure the bottom surface isn’t so slippery that your ferret doesn’t feel secure. If you choose to bring your ferret in the shower with you, make sure your support his body weight. A ferret that feels safe is less likely to panic and try to escape.

Keep It Warm

A ferret’s normal body temperature is about 102° F. What feels warm to you may feel cool to him. You’d probably squirm a bit if someone put you into a cold bathtub! Although you don’t want the water to burn your ferret, making it a little warmer can help keep your ferret patient while you lather him up and rinse him off.

Choose a Ferret Shampoo

You can find ferret-specific shampoo just about anywhere. Look for a brand that says it’s tear-less (though even a no-tears formulation should be kept out of a ferret’s eyes if at all possible). Try to keep your ferret from licking the shampoo. If your ferret has fleas, choose a flea shampoo made for ferrets or one that is safe for young kittens. Never use a flea collar or flea dip on a ferret.

Rinse and Rinse

Be sure to thoroughly rinse your ferret after you shampoo him. Shampoo residue can make a ferret’s skin dry and itchy and can make her coat dry and dull.

How Often?

Ferrets don’t need frequent bathing. In fact, if you wash your ferret too often, she will end up with a stronger odor. When a ferret is bathed too often, her glands work harder to replace the natural oils in her skin and coat. Those oils are what makes your ferret have a stronger aroma. A good rule for ferret washing is no more than once or twice a month. There are other ways to reduce ferret odor — for example, wash your ferret’s blankets, beds and hammocks and clean her ears regularly.

Clean Your Ferret’s Ears

Bath time is a good time to clean your ferret’s ears. That waxy buildup in your pet’s ears can carry more odor than any other part of your ferret. In fact, often a ferret needs his ears cleaned (using a product made for ferrets and following the product’s directions) more than he needs a bath.

Clip Your Ferret’s Nails

Bath time is also a good time to trim your ferret’s nails. Of course, you’ll probably need to clip nails more frequently than you give baths, but nails are usually softer and easier to cut after a bath.

Dry Your Ferret

Several pet supply companies make chamois-type towels for drying pets. These are super-absorbent and usually quite durable. But you don’t need to invest in special drying towels for your pets. You can make a pile of clean dry towels and let your wet ferret tunnel through them. For extra comfort for your pet, you can warm the towels a little in the dryer. Make sure the room where your ferret dries off is warm and free of drafts. Keeping just-washed ferret confined to a clean area will help prevent him from picking up dust and dirt right away. One option is to fill your bathtub with clean dry towels for burrowing.

Jake Willhoite
Jake runs and has had cats and dogs his entire life. As a kid his family adopted several dogs from the local shelter which set him down the path of animal rescue.
Photo of author

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