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How to Groom a Ferret

Although ferrets are creatures with a small surface area, their little bodies still require routine basic grooming and maintenance. Even though ferrets groom themselves, it is not enough to keep them looking and feeling their best. There are 4 basic steps to grooming, depending on the needs of your ferret:

  1. Brushing teeth: Your ferret's teeth should be brushed regularly. Take his diet into consideration - if he eats softer foods as opposed to crunchy kibble, he will need to have his teeth brushed more frequently (once a week) than a ferret that eats a dry-food diet (every other week). For the first few tries, tooth-brushing will probably be traumatic to your ferret. With patience, however, he will adjust. Using a pet toothbrush and toothpaste, slowly brush the teeth, starting from the back molars and working up to the front canines and incisors. Pay careful attention to those molars, it is where the majority of tartar and plaque buildup because a ferret's tongue can't efficiently clean off those teeth. Even with regular brushing, most ferrets will need a professional cleaning performed by a vet every 1 to 3 years or so.

  2. Cleaning Ears: Cleaning your ferret's ears weekly will help to prevent infection, ear mites and unpleasant odor. Using a commercial ear cleaning solution (recommended by your vet), squirt a few drops of the warmed drops into your ferret's ears and gently massage the ear to work the cleaner inside. This will loosen any accumulated wax, which you will remove with a dampened q-tip. Continue changing the q-tips until the ear is clean (FYI - a ferret's ear canal is L shaped, so it is nearly impossible to injure the ear drum as long as you clean gently). If your ferret's ear wax is dark-colored or black, call your vet - this could be a sign of ear mites, which can cause deafness if left untreated.

  3. Clipping nails: A ferret's nails should be clipped twice a month in order to avoid dangerous snagging that may actually rip off the nail. First, gather the supplies: cat or ferret nail clipper, styptic powder (in case you cut too close), and a treat, like Ferretone, to convince your ferret to cooperate. Place the ferret on his back in your lap, put some Ferretone on his belly, and clip while he is licking the treat off his stomach. Clip the nail so it will be parallel to the floor while he is standing or walking, and be careful not to cut into the quick, the pink vein running through the nail. If you do, put a little styptic powder on the nail to stop the bleeding.

  4. Bathing: Over-bathing is harmful to a ferret -it causes dry skin, making him itchy and uncomfortable, and will actually result in odor due to over-productive oil glands. When bathing, use shampoo designed for ferrets, it is pH balanced for their skin. Fill the tub or sink with warm water - ferrets have a body temperature of 102 degrees, so what is lukewarm to us is chilly to a ferret. When your ferret stands up, his head should be above water.   Shampoo your ferret and rinse thoroughly, any soap left in the coat will dry out the skin. Dry your ferret until he is damp, then lay him on a bunched- up towel, where he will finish drying himself by vigorously tossing and rolling about.

With these tips, your ferret will be the best-groomed and happiest ferret he can be!

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