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A good way to check daily on the health and well being of your ferret is during playtime.
Eyes should be bright and clear. Ears should be clean and free from wax. You can wipe the ears clean gently with baby wipes but never poke cotton buds into the ears as this can cause internal damage. Ear mites appear as a black tarry wax in the ears. Your ferret’s fur should be clean and free from fleas and ticks. Teeth should be healthy, unbroken, free from tartar and plaque.
Don’t use flea/tick treatment intended for Cats and Dogs that can be brought off the shelf as these can cause skin irritation, blistering or worse. Please see our page of advice on what flea treatments can be used.
Not essential for ferrets, infact unless your ferret has rolled in something unpleasant or is getting on in years there is no need to give them a bath at all! Bathing can actually strip essential oils from their fur, and as the body tries to replace these your ferret can smell worse than before it had a bath. If you do have to bath your ferret then use shampoo that is pet friendly, ideally produced for ferrets, and use warm rather than hot water and shallow depth. If preparing for a show, bathe a good few days in advance so that the natural condition of the fur can return.
Regularly check your ferrets gums and teeth. Gentle scruffing will often provoke a good yawn that will let you see how things are looking. Ferrets on dry foods and cooked, minced, soft meat diets and fed commercial treats have a tendency to develop plaque and tartar. The teeth turn yellow with interspersed brown-black spots. Gums can get infected if the tartar builds up and either lead to gums receding, the infected tooth breaking or falling out, or result in gingivitus and/or blood poisoning if things are allowed to go for too long without treatment. Bad breath can also be indicative of teeth problems.
If you are concerned about the condition of your ferrets teeth speak to your vets. It is far better, and cheaper, to seek treatment early than allow teeth condition to get so bad they have to be removed. NOTE - including raw bones such as those in chicken wings in their daily diet can help prevent tartar from building up on your ferrets teeth.
Cleaning teeth. If you want to make ultra sure you can even clean their teeth with a pet or baby tooth brush and pet toothpaste (Bephar do a liver flavoured one that you can get in most pet stores though most dog/cat toothpastes are fine to use - DONT USE HUMAN TOOTHPASTE). If they dont like toothpaste just use the toothbrush and water, as that will at least remove some of the buildup. The toothpaste offers extra enzymes that will help prevent plaque buildup.
This video from Ferret World on YouTube provides more tips and advice on how to clean your ferrets teeth with a tooth brush.
If your ferrets suffer from plaque and tartar then you can add Pro Den Plaque Off to their food, a natural sea weed supplement that can help soften plaque.
Dont forget to run your hands gently down their bodies to feel out any lumps or bumps which could be cysts or tumours. If you find anything that you are unsure of you should consult your vet immediately.
Need to be trimmed about once or twice a month, if you are unsure of how to do this then your vet or an experienced ferret owner will be able to show you.
A small drop of oil (Ferretone or Furotone works really well) applied to the belly will often make claw cutting easy work, but take care not to cut the claws too short as your ferret has nerves and a blood supply running through part of the claw. If you are considering showing your ferret make sure their claws are clipped 3-4 days before the show so they lose the newly cut sharpness, judges dont appreciate being scratched by newly cut claws. Small animal scissor nail trimmers work very well for trimming ferret claws.
Below is a great illustration from Ferretnews.com showing how important it is not to cut the quick.
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