There are animals that take care of their coats on their own and others. There are animals that love water and those that don’t. What camp is the ferret in? Should we wash it? Can this be done without danger for the animal?
The ferret smells strong
Ferrets have a fairly strong body odor. This is a fact to be prepared for when you want to welcome a ferret into your home. It is due to two distinct mechanisms.
The first is related to his sebaceous glands whose role is to protect the skin of the animal from external aggressions. These glands are located under the epidermis of the ferret and have the role of making a hydrolipidic film.
The second is related to his anal glands. They are used to confirm the identity of the ferret during the breeding season, especially in the male. Ferrets also use the scent they produce to mark their territory. Therefore, for a long time, the removal of the anal glands was a frequent remedy for the strong smell of ferrets. This operation was carried out at the same time as the sterilization.
Following the ratification of the European Convention for the protection of animals by France in 1996 and by decree published in 2004, “surgical interventions intended to modify the appearance of a pet or for other non-curative purposes must be prohibited ”. There is therefore no longer any question of touching the ferret’s anal glands, unless it is to treat a disease related to them. Note, however, that sterilization is still possible and it has been proven that this operation decreases the activity of these sebaceous glands.
Does the ferret need to be washed?
The ferret is a mustelid that does not exist in the wild. An exclusively domestic animal, it is logical to think that a ferret needs an intervention from its owner to stay clean. But what about in reality? Well the ferret is like the cat : he knows how to clean himself and normally does not need outside intervention.
If you wash it to reduce its natural body odor, be aware that this will be counterproductive and you will get the opposite effect as the sebaceous glands will start to work to keep the skin balanced. The washing will have the effect of eliminating the protective film and therefore initiating the repair process. In addition, if you use a shampoo that is not suitable, the ferret will not be able to bear not to smell its usual smell. He can then try to roll in his excrement to get rid of the smell of the shampoo and find his smell, that is to say his identity.
On the other hand, the ferret can get dirty: urine, feces or mud can get stuck on its coat. A small shower will then be welcome instead of waiting for it to clean itself. This will prevent it from getting everywhere and will limit infections or skin problems.
He will also appreciate a bath in case of hot weather.
Coat care above all
The maintenance of your ferret in general, and its coat in particular, involves regular cleaning of its cage. It is advisable to perform a thorough cleaning once a week, cleaning the litter up to two or three times a day.
The ferret can be brushed every day: this removes dead hair. This is all the more important during the moulting period, preventing the animal from dispersing hair everywhere, but also from swallowing its own hair or those of its companions. This moult, which takes place twice a year, in spring and autumn, lasts between 2 and 4 weeks. It is normal for the animal’s skin to be bare then.
How to wash your ferret?
The ferret cannot stand the shampoos we use. They may irritate his skin and therefore cause itching. It is essential to use a shampoo designed for ferret skin. If he has caught fleas, get one that will treat that problem. Special conditioners also exist that will help replenish the skin’s protective sebum.
During the entire wash, stay vigilant because a scratch or a bite can quickly occur in case of stress of the animal.
The biggest risk when washing your ferret is that it catches cold. Before bathing, it is necessary to heat the space used if the air is too cold (aim for 24 ° C).
Clear the space all around the tub except for the shampoo and the towel that will be used to dry it.
Put a little lukewarm water in the bottom of the tub and a toy or two that your pet likes and can withstand water. Bath time should be a time of Game. This is the best way for everything to turn out for the best.
Take your pet and place it in the tub. Keep a hand on his stomach during the entire bath if possible: it will reassure him.
Wet it little by little. Your ferret should never be submerged higher than the torso. Protect the ears and eyes which are particularly fragile.
Pour some shampoo into one hand and start washing. If you don’t like contact with your wet pet, you can also use a washcloth.
Rinsing must be done carefully so that no trace of shampoo remains on his hair or skin. The clarity of the rinse water is a good indicator.
Then dry your animal as carefully as the rest and wrap it in a towel. You can use a hair dryer as long as the temperature is not too high and your ferret is not frightened by noise and hiss. The minimum setting will suffice. The ferret can be autonomous for this stage. By spreading the towel on the floor, he will roll on it until the condition of his hair suits him.
Once dry, brush it with a special ferret comb.
A moment of euphoria can follow the bath. Do not let it run outside as it will try to roll over to get dirty.
At no time should you rush things because it must remain a pleasant moment, as much for you as for your animal, especially the first time.