Intelligent, sociable, and playful, ferrets make wonderful pets. Unfortunately, even with their scent glands removed, ferrets typically still emit a musky odor. You’ve probably thought about reducing the odor by bathing your pet, but what type of shampoo should you use?
Generally, you want to avoid washing your ferret with shampoo meant for humans. Human shampoo is usually too harsh for ferrets, with a pH balance poorly suited for their body chemistry. It’ll strip away necessary oils and can even irritate skin.
Yes, you can wash your ferret with any tearless shampoos, such as baby shampoo. It’s the one type of human shampoo you can safely use on ferrets.
Aside from a tearless formula, make sure the shampoo also has no added scents. Choose the mildest formula possible.
Yes, when giving your ferret a bath, you should use a small amount of shampoo. There are three general types of shampoo you can safely use on a ferret:
- Ferret shampoo
- Kitten shampoo
- Tearless shampoo for people
You only want to bathe a ferret with shampoo occasionally. At most, you should give them one bath a month. Any more and you risk drying out their skin.
Only bathe your ferret when absolutely necessary, such as if they’re visibly dirty or excessively itchy. It’s perfectly normal to not need to bathe your ferret every month. Many ferrets only need one or two baths a year.
Use lukewarm, room temperature water. Place a bit on the underside of your wrist. If it burns your skin, it’s too hot for bathing your ferret.
Ferrets have a higher body temperature than humans, so they feel comfortable in cooler water temperatures than we do.
Don’t use too much water. Your ferret should always be able to stand comfortably in the water. A bathtub is usually the best option, but a large sink or plastic tub can also work well. Just make sure the bathroom or other area is “ferret proof” in case your pet manages to get out of the tub.
Can I Use Dove Shampoo on My Ferret?
No. Although Dove shampoo is gentle on human skin, it affects ferrets differently. The strong smell of Dove can irritate your ferret’s senses. Plus, the shampoo can irritate your dog’s eyes and skin.
Along these same lines, you might have heard about bathing your ferret with Dawn dishwashing soap. Dawn is a well-known remedy for removing fleas and ticks from dogs.
If your ferret has fleas, you can bathe them with Dawn and warm water. However, you don’t want to do this frequently. If a Dawn bath doesn’t remove the fleas, consult with your vet about other treatment options.
You have three options: Ferret shampoo, kitten shampoo, and human shampoo with a tear-free formula.
Don’t use a shampoo made for adult cats or dogs. It’s too harsh. You’ll wind up with the same issues as when using non-tearless human shampoos, such as itchiness and irritation.
The best shampoo to use is the type specifically made for ferrets. If that’s not available, two other great options include shampoo for kittens, tearless baby shampoo, or some types of dish soap.
The shampoo you use should be gentle with no harsh scents. Not only can strong smells irritate your ferret, but shampoos with lots of scent additives can be toxic to ferrets if ingested. Also, dog shampoo is way to harsh for ferrets.
If your ferret has a strong, musky scent, you have options to reduce the smell without giving your ferret a bath.
First, focus on their diet. They should have ferret kibble with a high protein and fat content, without corn or fish. Avoid giving your ferret cat food or anything else not specifically designed for ferrets. A healthy diet helps reduce odor from feces.
Also, you’ll want to keep the ferret’s cage clean. Train your ferret to use a litter box and clean it daily. You’ll also want to keep their bedding clean. Avoid wood chip bedding, which can create respiratory problems, in favor of old T-shirts and similar fabrics.
Generally, you don’t want to use human shampoo on ferrets. It’s too harsh for them, and has an improper pH level, resulting in itchiness and skin irritation. Instead, use a shampoo made for ferrets or kittens, or use baby shampoo with a “no tears” formula.