Keeping your ferret clean is one of the things you must keep in mind. Have you heard people complaining about a musky smell that supposedly ferrets have? It has a lot to do with how often you clean him up. Below, I am going to give you a simple guide on how to clean a ferret’s ears.
Before I go on, I suggest that you clean your pet ferret’s ears right after you have bathed him. While at it, make sure you do not exceed one bath in a month! Yes, this can sound contradicting but the lesser you bath your ferret, the lesser you have to worry about ferret smell.
Understand that cleaning his ears is a delicate process. Below is a step by step guide on how to clean a ferret’s ears.
A helpful guide on how to clean a ferret’s ears
After a refreshing bath, rinse and pat to dry your ferret. I assume that you brought everything with you to the bathroom. These should include a clean towel, ear cleanser, and cotton swabs for cleaning the ears.
It is normal for your ferret to have waxy ears. The wax is usually of orange to yellowish color. However, should you notice a darker coat of ear wax, it could mean that your ferret has an ear infection.
If there is nothing peculiar about your ferret’s ear wax, you are set to start cleaning his ears. Follow the preceding procedure to clean your ferret’s ears:
Warm up the ear cleanser
Before you scruff your ferret for cleaning, you must warm up the ear cleanser. You cannot use the latter at room temperatures. cold cleanser might be irritating to your ferret’s ears.
Put some warm water in a bowl and dip the cleanser bottle. Wait for a minute or two for the cleanser to get to your ferret’s body temperature. You will want to make the process of cleaning his ears as cozy as possible. We warm up the cleanser to avoid that tingling feeling you would have if you had cold liquids in your ears.
Use cotton swabs
Once the cleanser gets to the right temperature, which should be about 101°F, close to your ferret’s body temperature. You can either dip a cotton swab in the cleanser before inserting it in his ears. Alternatively, you can put two drops into his ears and use a cotton swab.
Now, you must be cautious when driving the cotton swab in your ferret’s ears. You do not want to drive in too deep and hurt his eardrums. This could lead to awful infections and ear problems.
Hold him to restrain him as you drive in the cotton swabs. If you can, I suggest that you ask someone to help you hold him still. Drive in the swab at a perpendicular angle and remember to be gentle. Once you are settled, twist the swabs to remove any wax and ear debris.
You will need about five swabs for each ear. Do not stop cleaning until the last swab comes out clean.
Precautions to take when cleaning a ferret’s ears
Ears are delicate parts of your ferret’s body. Therefore, you must be very cautious when cleaning his ears, especially because you will be using a cotton swab. It can easily slip and damage his eardrums.
Below is a list of precautions you should take when cleaning a ferret’s ears.
Never use alcohol in the place of ear cleanser. Sure alcohol is a great disinfectant and cleaning agent for wounds and other external injuries. However, it will dry out your ferret’s ears and it could also irritate him. Use gentle ear cleansers for ferrets. If you cannot get one from the pet store, you can use a cleanser for kittens as a substitute.
- Do not use natural oils as cleansers either. While they may seem as gentle and better cleansers, they will only make the ear wax accumulate in his ears. Once again, only go for special ferret ear cleansers or use gentle kitten cleansers.
- Do not use cold ear cleaner. It will irritate your ferret and make it impossible for you to clean his ears. As described above, warm the cleaner to your ferret’s body temperature.
- Have someone help you to hold your ferret when cleaning him up. While scruffing him is enough, it is going to be difficult for you to clean his ears using only one hand. A friend will help you hold your ferret still for easier and safer cleaning.
- Clean your ferret’s ears after bathing him. It is is easier and besides, you only need to clean his ears once a month, just like you have to bath him. This will help clean up any water and shampoo from your ferret’s ears.
- Watch out for any symptoms of an illness. As I mentioned earlier, your ferret will rarely contract infections. This, however, does not rule out any possibilities of getting infected.
In the next section of this article, we are going to look at possible ear infections your ferret could catch. Some of these illnesses might be transmitted from a host while others will be your fault!
Ear infections in ferrets
Earlier in this article, I indicated that the color of ear wax should range from orange to yellowish color. Should you notice any change in color, probably dark brown or blackish coat of the ear wax, you should visit your local vet.
There is a possibility that your ferret has ear mites or a bacterial/yeast infection. You will need the vet to examine, diagnose and treat your ferret in this case. Do not clean your ferret’s ears at all before your vet looks at him.
Let us look at the symptoms, diagnoses as well as treatment for the two illnesses that could lead to abnormal ear wax production.
Ear Mites in ferrets
Ear mites are not very common in ferrets, especially if you do not own another pet. It might happen when you clean your ferret’s ears more often than needed. It is why I insist that you refrain from bathing and cleaning his ears too much.
When you clean his ears too much, you are ridding him of his natural oils, needed for the safety of your ferret’s ears. As a result, your ferret’s oil glands will overproduce the natural oils to accumulate in his ears. This leads to ear mites, which in return will cause an infection.
Ear mites become parasites inside your ferret’s body. They will eat ear wax debris as well as other secretions as they increase in number. As a result, this can become painful and irritating to your ferrets.
Symptoms of ear mites
Other than the blacking ear debris and wax, there are other symptoms of ear mites to look out for. These might include the following:
- Smelly ear wax
- Brown crusting around the ear area
- Yellowish discharge from your ferret’s ears
- Loss of hair in the head and neck area
Unfortunately, if you have a dog or a cat, they might also be in danger of ear mites. Perhaps your ferret contracted ear mites from your other pets as well.
The good news is that you can treat ear mites. Take him to the vet for an examination. Your vet might use a swab to scoop some of the smelly ear wax. They will then examine it under the microscope for confirmation.
You can use topical products to treat ear mites. Also, treatment must be repeated every other week for some time to clear up the parasites. This is because these treatments will not kill the mite eggs.
It means that even after getting rid of the adult mites, they might continue to multiply since the eggs will hatch. Repeating treatment should kill all mites as they hatch.
If you have more than one pet, you must dispense treatment to them as well. This will prevent the mites from spreading from one pet to another.
Otitis Externa (Ear infection)
An ear infection is a more serious problem that could be causing unbearable pain for your ferret. It is characterized by inflammation of your ferret’s inner parts of the ears.
Some of the symptoms of this illness include painful ears, smelly discharge from a ferret’s ears and head shaking. Sometimes your ferret will walk with his head tilted towards one side of the ear.
It could also be as a result of untreated ear mites that may tear up membranes in the ear. Also, too much cleaning might end up causing an ear infection.
As with ear mites, you must take your ferret to the vet for a check-up for diagnoses. After a microscopic exam, your vet should also be able to recommend treatment for your fuzzy buddy.
Understand that it might take longer for an ear infection to clear up than ear mites. But with the right kind of treatment, it should clear up in a few weeks.
Learning how to clean a ferret’s ears is a must for all ferret owners. However, if you are not sure how to go about it, ask your vet or local pet store. They should be able to guide you through this process.
You should be careful not to tear any inner ear membranes as this could lead to an infection. Should you notice anything abnormal in your ferret’s ears, do not hesitate to rush to your vet.
Ferret ear wax should not have a bad odor. If it does, your ferret might catch an infection. Be gentle with the cotton swabs when cleaning your pet ferret’s ears.
As I have previously mentioned, you should not clean your ferret’s ears more than once in a month. I cannot emphasize enough on using a gentle ear cleanser, specifically made for ferrets or kittens.
Do not forget to wipe the outer parts of your ferret’s ears as well as the folds. Have someone help you hold your ferret for easier and safe cleaning.
Cleaning your ferret’s cage and beddings should be a priority. In fact, you should do it more often than you bath him. It will help prevent the spread of illnesses or parasites.
In general, you will not experience medical issues with your ferret if you keep his cage and living environment conducive. If you are unable to clean his ear ask someone who does and keep your ferret happy.