How to Bathe a Ferret–Important Steps
When to Bathe Your Ferret
Before we get into how to bathe a ferret, it is important to know when to bathe a ferret.
Many ferret owners love their pets but get frustrated by their smell, which can be quite strong. Bathing ferrets can be a good way to combat odor. Ferrets should not be bathed more than once every 3 months. Bathing a ferret too often can actually make the smell worse. Bathing strips oils from a ferret’s skin and oil glands go into overdrive to replace it. This results in even more odor! Ferrets can become itchy and uncomfortable when bathed too often, as well. If your ferret is scratching frequently, you might want to cut back on how often you’re bathing her.
Ferret smells are actually more often related to a ferret’s bedding, cage, and blankets than to the ferret himself. Try washing these items before bathing your ferret to rule them out as the primary cause of odor. For more info on ferret odor, see this article about getting rid of ferret smells.
How to Bathe a Ferret–Important Steps
Before starting the bathing process, you may find it helpful to get her used to water first. If your ferret doesn’t like water, first let her play in the sink or tub without water, so she gets used to being in the place where she will be bathed. When she seems to feel comfortable in the tub or sink, turn the faucet on just a little bit and let her explore the water. Give her licks of Ferretone, or another healthy treat as you gradually get her wet. Many ferrets love to play in the water, and some even like to swim!
Have the Right Supplies and Have Everything Ready
Choosing the right supplies for bathing your ferret is extremely important. All your supplies should be ready before you bring your ferret to the tub or sink. Don’t expect your ferret to sit quietly while you go get a towel. Be sure you NEVER LEAVE YOUR FERRET IN WATER UNATTENDED! One of my ferrets used to like to play in the tube and swim around while I gave her a bath. I filled the tub full enough so it was deep enough for her to swim. But as she got older, it was as though she forgot how to swim. I would put her in the tub and she would just stand there and sink to the bottom! I had to reach in immediately and pull her out before she drowns!
How to Bathe a Ferret
To bathe a ferret, you will need:
- A sink or tub
- Warm water–about the temperature you would use to take a bath yourself. Be sure it is not too hot or too cold. Fill the tub or sink with a few inches of water. Be sure your ferret can reach the bottom of the tub or sink and be able to keep her head above the water. You don’t want to force her to have to swim if she doesn’t want too.
- Ferret Shampoo–Choose a shampoo specifically made for ferrets. Shampoos made for other animals can easily dry out a ferret’s skin and fur. Depending on your ferret’s needs, and your preferences, select a shampoo that’s right for her. Need some suggestions? See these recommended shampoos.
- Ferret Conditioner (optional)–Ferret conditioner replenishes the oils lost in bathing. Again, be sure to select a conditioner specifically made for ferrets. This conditioner smells great!
- A towel–Ferrets get cold quickly, so you may want to put the towel in the dryer before the bath so it’s warm to the touch afterward. If you want to get a fast-drying and absorbent towel to dry your ferret, these towels are a great choice.
Make sure the water temperature is okay.
A ferret’s normal body temperature is between 101 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Water that feels lukewarm to you is cold for a ferret. Fill the tub or sink with water that is warm to the touch but not boiling. Go for the water temperature you would want when taking a hot bath.
Keep your ferret comfortable.
Before lowering your ferret into the tub or sink, make sure he is comfortable and supported so she’ll be less nervous during the actual bath.
- Make sure your hands are supporting her feet or they are resting on the bottom of the sink or tub.
- Make sure the water is not too deep. Hold the ferret up above water if she seems distressed and drain some of the water until she is relaxed. Ideally, your ferret should only be submerged up to her chest.
- Your ferret’s feet may slip on the floor of a bath or sink. Consider using a rubber so she can stand steady and therefore feel safe
- Having some of your ferret’s favorite toys in the water can help her relax during the bath, as well.
Shampoo your ferret.
Be careful not to get shampoo in your ferret’s eyes. Some shampoo can really sting, and your ferret won’t forget it. Some ferrets like the taste of shampoo. If yours does, try to prevent her from licking it as too much can make her sick. After getting your ferret in the water, you can begin the process of shampooing the ferret.
- First, get your ferret thoroughly wet. You can do this by gently splashing water on her sides, running the faucet over her, or using a measuring cup to pour water over her back, head, and tail.
- Run the shampoo bottle under warm water before applying it to your ferret. Ferrets get cold easily and you want to make sure the shampoo is slightly warmer than room temperature.
- Apply a thin line of shampoo down your ferret’s back and massage the shampoo deep into the ferret’s coat. Be particularly diligent about washing her tail and tummy, as these are areas where oils build up and increase odor.
- Keep one hand on your ferret while you wash her to make her feel safe and prevent her from move around too much.
Rinse your ferret thoroughly.
If you’re bathing your ferret in standing water, drain the tub before beginning the rinsing process. Leaving shampoo in can cause your ferret’s skin to dry out.
- Refill the tub with fresh warm and rinse the shampoo out of your ferret’s coat.
- Rinse her head carefully with your hand. Do not pour water directly on her head as soap may run into her eyes.
- If possible, use a faucet during the rinsing process as this can better rinse the shampoo out of your ferret’s fur.
- If you’re choosing to condition your ferret’s coat, repeat this process with conditioner after rinsing the shampoo from her coat.
Dry your ferret with a clean, absorbent towel.
- Wrap your ferret in a towel and gently rub her fur. Expect that your ferret will not tolerate too much drying. You do not need to get her completely dry. An absorbent microfiber pet towel works faster than regular towels.
Allow your ferret to dry herself.
After a bath, your ferret will want to try to dry herself by rubbing her fur on warm, soft, and dry surfaces.
- Choose a drying space for your ferret and lay down clean towels or blankets for her to dry herself on.
- You should keep her in a confined area while drying. You don’t want her drying herself on a dirty surface and wasting the bath! I learned this the hard way. Many of my ferrets love to dig around in dirt any chance they get–especially the dirt in large potted plants. Although it may look adorable, it is frustrating to see your ferret’s face covered in dirt as she looks up from a potted plant right after a bath!
- Don’t be surprised if your ferret starts bouncing around, full of energy after a bath. Like many animals, ferrets have a natural instinct to get dry fast. Running around and burrowing under towels and blankets is an effective way to dry off.
Make sure the ferret’s cage, bedding, toys, and litter are clean. Bathing your ferret provides a good opportunity to clean her blankets, bedding, toys, and cage.
You want to make sure you clean everything BEFORE you give your ferret a bath. You don’t want your nice clean ferret stepping in a dirty litter box and cuddling up in a not too fresh bed.
Want more information on how to remove ferret odor, see this article.
Being prepared and following the Important steps on How to Bathe a Ferret, detailed here, will help you and your ferret have less stress during bath time. It may even be fun!
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