One characteristic most people associate with ferrets is their rather unique olfactory presence; yep, they smell! So you might be hoping that a bath will help improve your ferret’s scent appeal, and it can, but you must do it right to avoid causing any stress or discomfort. This means getting organized before putting your ferret into the bath and using the correct products so you don’t hurt your ferret.
Let’s discuss what you’ll need and how to bathe your ferret properly, so the experience is as smooth and stress-free as possible – for both of you!
Before You Start
Preparation is always the key to success, and here is what you’ll need:
How to Bathe and Groom a Ferret: 6 Simple Steps
1. Run the Bath
You can bathe your ferret in the tub or sink, whatever you think will be easiest. Some owners prefer the sink because you don’t have to bend down as much, and the kitchen has a more suitable sink because it’s usually bigger than those in the bathroom.
Ferrets have a high body temperature, between 101–103°F, so your bath water should feel quite warm, but not hot. If your ferret isn’t fond of water, fill the bath with only a small amount. Add some of your ferret’s favorite toys and put a mat or towel in the bottom of the tub to stop their feet from slipping.
2. Put Your Ferret in the Bath
Support your ferret’s whole body when lowering them into the water. It should be shallow so the water only reaches their chest. Lift them back out and drain some of the water if it’s too deep. Your ferret might be distressed, so use a calm, soothing tone and try to distract them with toys. Use the cup to wet their fur once they’re a little calmer. It is important at this step to hold them firmly, but not too tight! If they manage to escape now, it will be even harder the next time.
3. Use Shampoo (and Conditioner)
Once your ferret is wet, use a little shampoo and run it under warm water before rubbing it into their fur to create a thick lather. Be sure not to get any in their eyes or mouth; if you use your fingertips on their head, there’s a better chance you can avoid these areas. Hold your ferret carefully while you shampoo them.
4. Rinse Carefully
Rinse your ferret using a cup or small container. Repeat number three if you’re using a conditioner. Rinse them thoroughly because leaving any shampoo or conditioner behind could dry out their skin and lead to dandruff, itchiness, and scratching.
5. It’s Time to Dry Off
Your ferret can dry themselves off, and they’ll flop around on the towels you’ve laid on the floor. You can also use the towel you warmed up before you ran the bath so they’re less aggravated. Be gentle as you dry them but expect your ferret to only put up with being dried for a short time.
If you are feeling a little creative, you can try making a little “drying sack” by sewing microfiber cloths together into a little bag. We know how much ferrets love to burrow into things, so this way they can burrow and dry at the same time.
6. Give Them Space
Your ferret will want their space after the bath, so let them go even if they’re not completely dried. If you haven’t already, we recommend turning up the heat a little, just until your ferret is drier.
Do Ferrets Need Baths Frequently?
No. Once you’ve bathed your ferret, you won’t need to bathe them again for a few months. Ferrets can be a little stinky, but baths can sometimes worsen the smell. Too many can strip your ferret of the oils their skin naturally secretes, so you shouldn’t bathe them more than once a month. The most important step in keeping your ferret smelling fresh is to clean and replace their bedding regularly, which should be done at least once a week, or more if it gets quite whiffy.
Check Your Ferret Regularly
When you handle and play with your ferret, use it as an opportunity to check their nails, ears, and the condition of their coat. A patchy coat can be a sign of skin disease. Checking your ferret will also get them comfortable with being groomed and examined, which will also help when it comes time to go to the veterinarian.
Your Ferret’s Grooming Needs
Caring for your ferret’s grooming needs requires more than just bathing them. To ensure your ferret is in tip-top condition, we’ve outlined other important aspects of their care that you must address.
Regular brushing is the best way to keep your ferret’s coat healthy. It will also minimize the hair they ingest when grooming, which is particularly important when they are shedding.
Your ferret isn’t going to make this easy because they probably won’t stay still long enough for a good brushing. But if you get into the habit of frequent, quick brushes, it will be enough.
You will need to trim your ferret’s nails around once every couple of weeks. The best way to do it is to lay them on their back in your lap, place a liquid treat on their belly, such as salmon oil, and let them lick it off as you cut their nails.
Be careful not to cut the quick, which is the red vein in the nail that will bleed and hurt your ferret if it’s cut. Your vet can show you how to cut your ferret’s nails before you do it yourself if you’re unsure.
Ferrets need their teeth cleaned every 2 weeks to prevent plaque build-up, which is particularly important for ferrets on a kibble diet. Never use human toothpaste; there aren’t any that are specifically for ferrets, but dog & cat toothpaste is safe. Use a rubber finger brush to run the toothpaste over their teeth.
Lastly, you should clean your ferret’s ears about every 2 weeks. Use a damp cotton ball with a ferret-cleaning solution your vet recommends. It is much safer to apply the solution to the cotton ball rather than directly into their ear, and likely to be much better tolerated as well.
If you notice that the wax is dark, or the ear looks inflamed, it could be a sign of infection or ear mites, in which case you will need to contact the vet.
Bathing your ferret can be a bit of a stressful experience, but if you stick to these handy steps, it can run as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Thankfully, it isn’t something you have to do too often. Our pets rely entirely on us for everything, and we must ensure we’re doing everything right. Grooming your ferret is more than just bathing them, but with the proper knowledge and routine in place, your ferret will thrive.