Importance of Maintaining Proper Ferret Hydration

One of the most important organs of your pet ferret is its skin, which is also the largest. The primary function of the skin is to protect your ferret’s organs from injury and infection, as well as maintain proper body temperature. Similar to most mammals, ferret’s skin is made up of multiple layers. The outermost layer is called epidermis, which is made of thousands of dead skin cells. The epidermis acts as the first defense against bacteria and germs. The dead cells in this layer are constantly replaced by new and healthier ones.

The epidermis of male ferrets is generally thicker compared to the females. However, this layer gradually becomes thinner as both sexes mature. Clearly, this layer is vital in maintaining proper health so extra care must always be given to prevent and minimize the risk of developing various skin conditions.

Photo: Tambako The Jaguar|Flickr

Healthy Epidermis

One of the most effective ways to keep the epidermis healthy is by making sure it is free of germs and dirt. Ferrets are very active animals, and they love to explore even the dirtiest places. As a result, their bodies are constantly exposed to different environments and places that may potentially have various forms of infections. Cleaning your pet’s body with a soft cloth damped in lukewarm water is the best way to remove these germs and dirt.

Dermis

The second layer of your pet’s skin is called dermis, which is thicker compared to the epidermis. Made of connective tissues, the dermis also contains blood vessels, hair follicles, and nerves. Sebaceous glands, which produces the oily substance called sebum, are also found in the dermis.

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When not maintained properly, ferrets have a high potential to stink due to their very active sebaceous glands. As a solution to this problem, the dermis must be cleaned regularly to minimize the accumulation of sebum.

Sweat Glands

In most mammals, the dermis also contains sweat glands, which are responsible for producing perspiration and regulating proper body temperature. Unfortunately, ferrets have no sweat glands, which is why their body temperature easily gets high. Ferrets are also known to adjust more efficiently in cold environments than hot.

When kept in hot locations, your pet must be monitored at all times to prevent unwanted conditions such as heat stroke and dehydration which can lead to death. This is the reason why ferrets need a constant supply of clean and fresh water especially during hot seasons and after tiring activities. Its cage or enclosure must have a deep and sturdy water basin which must always contain a fresh batch to drink.

Dehydration

Dehydration, or lack of water in the body, is a serious condition that must be avoided at all costs. There have been many cases of ferret deaths due to dehydration. To check if your pet is properly hydrated, you can examine its skin. Pinch and pull a small part of the skin for about 5 to 10 seconds and let go. If the skin immediately comes back to its natural place and form, your pet is properly hydrated. On the other hand, if the skin takes about 2 to 5 seconds before returning to its natural shape and form, your pet is suffering from dehydration and must be treated immediately.

Aside from giving fresh water, other alternatives are pedialtye and any liquid that contain high levels of electrolytes. If you suspect that the dehydration is severe, it is best to bring your pet to a vet for proper treatment. In this case, the vet will administer hydrating liquids directly to your pet’s system.

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Protecting the Skin

The epidermis of your pet is able to retain and hold water, thus keeping the skin soft and hydrated. If dehydration develops and the skin’s water content reaches extreme low levels, the layers will crack. Bacteria and germs can easily find their way to these cracks, which increases the risk of various types of infections.

To prevent dehydration and skin infections, provide a steady supply of water. In addition, avoid placing your pet’s cage in an area with direct sunlight. Also, avoid rooms where there is poor ventilation. Lastly, do not mix supplements to your pet’s water container, which may lessen the urge to drink.

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