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How to Bathe and Groom a Ferret

Nicole Cosgrove

July 2, 2021

Ferrets are popular pets that can be fun to keep in your home. However, they tend to have a musky odor, and some owners may want to give them the occasional bath. If you would like to bathe your pet but aren’t sure how to do so safely, keep reading while we go over a step-by-step guide to getting your pet clean and keeping it that way. We’ll also discuss how often you should bathe your ferret and when is the best time.divider-multiprint

Do Ferrets Stink?

Ferrets are a lot like cats in the sense that they spend much of their day grooming themselves, so they usually don’t develop a strong odor. However, they tend to have a musky smell that is completely natural and part of living with a ferret. A buildup of urine in their habitat will increase the odor, as can some illnesses. If you have a ferret that smells worse than it should, we recommend taking it to the vet to have it looked over.

How Often Should I Bathe My Ferret?

It would be best if you only bathed your ferret occasionally. Most experts recommend doing so no more than once per month. Ideally, no more than 3–4 times a year. Frequent bathing can break down the oils in your pet’s skin, causing it to be itchy and flakey. We recommend only bathing them if they get into something that you need to wash off or if they came into contact with fleas and needed a flea bath.  A bath can also be a great way to cool your pet down on a hot summer day.divider-ferret

Bathing Your Ferret

1. Get Your Supplies Together

ferret-cage-pixabay
Credit: kemll, Pixabay

Shampoo or Oatmeal

There are several brands of shampoo that you can use that are safe to use on ferrets. These brands shouldn’t dry out the skin and will leave the fur soft with a pleasant scent. Several kinds will also remove fleas without irritating the eyes or skin. Some brands even have moisturizers that can protect the skin.

If you don’t wasn’t to use shampoo, you can create a homemade shampoo by using oatmeal soaked in water. Wrap the oats in a towel and let them sit until they become soft.

What You'll Need
  • Shampoo or soaked oatmeal
  • Towels
  • Toys
  • Treats
  • Cup for rinsing

2. Run The Water

ferret-on hand-pixabay
Credit: amayaeguizabal, Pixabay

Once you have your supplies together, it’s time to get the bath water ready. You can use a tub or sink, whichever is easier for you. We like to use the kitchen sink because we can stand and it’s larger than the bathroom sink. Ferrets have a high body temperature of 101–103 degrees Fahrenheit, so you will want very warm water, so they don’t grow cold. Fill the tub only a few inches until you see if your ferret likes being in the water.


3. Put Your Pet In The Water

ferret-blanket-pixabay
Credit: christels, Pixabay

Slowly place your ferret into the water. Some ferrets will get in and swim around, while others will fight against you and try to get out. Talking in a soothing tone can help calm an excited ferret, and you can use the rinse cup to get them wet.


4. Shampoo

ferret-yawn-pixabay
Credit: christels, Pixabay

Once the body is wet, you can use a small amount of shampoo and rub it into the fur to create a thick lather. Make sure you don’t get any into your pet’s eyes and don’t forget the tail or belly. If you’re using oatmeal, it may be a bit harder to tell what areas you’ve covered, but the process is basically the same. Let the water get murky with the oatmeal and rub it into the fur to get it clean.


5. Rinse

ferret-sleepy-pixabay
Credit: christels, Pixabay

Once you cover the body with shampoo or oatmeal, it’s time to rinse it off. You can use the rinse cup, your hand, or a washcloth to rinse away the lather. Ensure you rinse it well because any remaining foam might dry out the skin, leading to scratching and dandruff, but don’t put any water on the head.


6. Dry Your Ferret

ferret bed-pixabay
Credit: GuilleNeT, Pixabay

Ferrets like to dry themselves and can be quite entertaining when they do. Make sure you put plenty of towels on the ground because they will flop around as they dry themselves off. You can try to get some of the water off with a towel as you remove them from the water, but they usually are in a hurry to do it independently, so you will need to put it down pretty quickly.


7. All Finished

ferret-chill-pixabay
Credit: christels, Pixabay

Once your ferret finishes frantically rolling around on the floor, it’s probably as dry as it’s going to get. You have completed your task, but we recommend turning up the heat a few degrees until your pet feels dry. This will prevent your ferret from getting cold. Once dry, your ferret should seem happy with its clean, soft fur, and you shouldn’t need to do it again for several months.divider-ferret

Summary

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide and learned some new things about your pet.  We recommend only bathing your pet when necessary, and we usually do it once a summer on a hot day, so it gets them clean and cools them down Other occasions are reserved for quarterly baths or if our little guy gets into something that requires an immediate bath. If we have helped you in this article, please share these seven steps to bathe and groom a ferret on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured image credit: Sir_Tommy, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.