The musky odor of the ferret is well-known to any pet lover that has ever owned one of these mischievous beasts. Belonging to the same family as weasels, otters, and minks (oh my!), the strong odor that the ferret omits serve a purpose to the mammals in this family. Secretions from the ferret’s anal glands let others know their reproductive status, territory range, provide social clues, and function as a form of communication. That’s all well and good for the ferrets, right?
But how do you control their strong odor in your home? Here are a few ideas and tips on how to keep the smell under control.
The 5 Tips to Get Rid of Ferret Smell
1. Bath and Groom Your Ferret
One easy way to keep the strong odor of your ferret to a minimum is to give your ferret one bath a month. Avoid using human shampoo and conditioner because they may have a toxic effect on your pet. Instead, choose a shampoo that is formulated for use on ferrets. Fill the bathtub with water just a tad warmer than lukewarm and use the special shampoo to clean your pet.
Cleaning your ferret’s ears will also help keep their scent low. Dip a clean Q-tip into an ear cleaning solution formulated for pets. Hold your pet firmly and slowly swirl the swab around to clean the outer ear. You can slowly enter the ear canal, but don’t go too deep. A good rule of thumb is that you should always be able to see part of the end of the Q-tip. Repeat with the other ear.
2. Clean the Litter Box
It’s important to litter box train your ferret as it will make cleaning up after their bathroom breaks much easier. If your ferret isn’t trained, put a litter box in the corner they use most often for a bathroom and put a few pieces of feces in there to get them to use the box. Your ferret may still occasionally have an accident, but most ferrets don’t have a problem using the litter box.
It will be important to clean the litter box daily to cut down on scent and to encourage your ferret to continue using it. Using a pellet paper or granule litter will make it easy to use a scoop to remove droppings daily. Always add fresh litter as the box empties, and if the box starts to smell, make sure to give it a good cleaning and then add fresh litter.
3. Clean the Bedding and Cage
If your ferret has bedding, such as a hammock or sleep sack, washing it once a week in unscented laundry detergent will help cut down on any odors that have accumulated on the fabric. Do not use any scented cleaning products as some ferrets may be allergic.
Once a month, remove all the toys, hammocks, and litter box from the cage. Throw away anything that is deeply soiled or damaged to help avoid illness or injury. Using soap and water, scrub the cage and let it air dry. A coated wire cage is best for a ferret as wooden cages will absorb the pet odors, and you won’t be able to get rid of the smell.
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4. Neuter or Spay Your Ferret
Unneutered ferrets produce a stronger scent because of certain hormones they produce when they reach reproductive age. Neutering or spaying your ferret will stop the overabundance of those hormones, and the odor should lessen.
Anal glands can also be removed to reduce the overall scent of your ferret. Many pet stores in the U.S. already sell ferrets with their anal glands removed. Your ferret will still have a musky scent because it’s an animal with natural skin oils, but the scent is greatly reduced if the anal glands are removed. If your ferret came from a private breeder, speak with your vet about whether this is an option for your pet.
5. Feed Your Ferret a High-Protein Diet
Changing your ferret’s diet may also help reduce the strong odor coming from the anal glands of your pet. Ferret’s need a high-protein diet because of their high metabolic rate, and there is the potential bonus that it may help your ferret to have less odorous feces. Purchase a quality ferret food that lists lean meat, such as chicken meal, as the first ingredient. Wysong Epigen 90 Digestive Support Dry Ferret Food is a food with high protein content, as well as just the right amount of fiber and fat for a healthy diet. Avoid feeding your ferret fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and sugar to help them maintain a healthy diet.
You may not be able to eliminate your ferret’s musky odor entirely, but it can be managed by giving your pet baths, grooming their ears, and feeding them a quality, high-protein diet.
Training your pet to use a proper litter box that can be cleaned daily will also cut down on lingering odors. Washing the litterbox and any sleep materials each week will help eliminate any lingering odors saturating the fabric from skin secretions. Purchasing a wire cage for your ferret will hold less scent than wooden alternatives, and deep cleaning it once a month will help keep the musky odor low.
If your ferret’s anal glands haven’t been removed, you can consult a vet about removal as a last resort. Your ferret will always have a scent, but by taking the steps outlined above, you can manage the odor so you and your pet can enjoy each other.
Featured Image Credit: Stephanie’screativeImages, Shutterstock