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Water requirement of the Ferret

Naughty Ferret

We spend a lot of time researching what the best diet is for their ferret and compare different kinds of foods. The debate upon feeding techniques and go to their vets for consultation. Nevertheless, most people are not aware of the fact that clean water is actually the most important part of a ferret’s diet.

How much should a ferret drink

No specific amount of water can be made a general rule that applies to all ferrets. Most ferrets drink water up to 20 times a day. It all truly depends on each ferret. You need to make sure that your ferret always has access to clean water.

The need for water

As well as food, your ferret will also need water. This is why you need to ensure that freshwater is always available for them when they feel thirsty.

A lack of water will cause the cell repair to slow down and the immune system to become weakened. A ferret that is not drinking enough water is going to be more likely to get sick, and the same applies to people. Topping up their water should be done more often if you’re feeding them dry food.

Ferret Bathing

Prime water to your Ferret

This may seem like an absurd concept, but yes not all types of water are the same. There is distilled water, bottled water, tap water, and filtered water. You need to have a good understanding of the difference between all these types of water in order to provide your ferret with the optimum supply of water.

The water that is drawn from household faucets is known as tap water and contains many additives like chlorine and fluoride etc. These can affect animals or humans that have weak immune systems.

The distillation process is used to create distilled water. The distillation process helps to remove all the impurities, nutrients, and minerals like magnesium from the water. This kind of water should be avoided as it has the wrong pH, ionization, oxidation, and polarization potentials.

Distilled water fails to provide the body with the necessary nutrients it requires. Distilled water has been linked to certain mineral deficiencies as well as hair loss.

Distilled water is only beneficial when it comes to the production of medicines and compounds. Bottled water can be tap water and have additives. You can read the label to know what is in it.

For ferrets, the safest kind of water is bottled water or filtered water. This kind of water does not have additives such as fluoride but is rich in minerals. So filtered water or bottled spring water is the best drinking option when it comes to ferrets.

Cool or cold water

It is easy for a ferret to become overheated. If you see them becoming suddenly lethargic, it could be because of heat stress. If he is panting, falls limp when you pick him up or is salivating it is a dangerous condition. You need to cool the little guy down as soon as possible.

Not only should you wipe them down with a cool refreshing cloth, but you should also give them some cool water to drink as soon as they are able. Try to avoid giving them water that is too cold though, it can be too much of a shock to their system.

Can I offer dairy products

It may seem simple enough to offer your ferret milk to drink. After all, it was mother’s milk that he drank after he was born. However, you need to exercise great care when giving dairy products. While ferrets really love milk and other dairy products, it is not the best dietary choice for them.

Ferrets are lactose intolerant and it could make them sick if they consume too much of it. Never rely solely on milk as their primary source of hydration as it could create a major imbalance in their diet.

You can give them some heavy cream but keep it in very small doses. This can be a great way to help your ferret to fill out and put on a few extra pounds if they are underweight. Some ferret owners give them the extra fatty milk only occasionally as a treat rather than as a normal part of their meal.

Is tap water safe to my ferret

Tap water (water from a public supply) is not safe for ferrets to drink as it often contains chemicals and heavy metals. These can cause health problems and negatively affect the health and happiness of your ferret.

Chlorine in tap water

Chlorine is added to public water systems for disinfection purposes. While chlorine levels in tap water are often too low to cause significant health issues, chlorine can irritate your ferret’s eyes and make their skin very itchy! It’s always best to give your ferret water that has been carbon filtered.

Carbon filters are the only way to get rid of chlorine found in tap water. If you use carbon-filtered water, you won’t have to worry when your ferret is drinking, playing, splashing, or even blowing bubbles in the water. Exposure to high levels of chlorine (> 4 mg/L) can be a health concern for your ferret.

Dehydration in Ferrets

A lack of water can cause dehydration in ferrets. Symptoms include:

  • Dry gums
  • Excessive squinting
  • Dull eyes
  • Exhaustion
  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation

Dehydration can also result from diarrhea and vomiting. Chlorine in their drinking water can cause digestive issues and dehydration in ferrets.

Caring a dehydrated ferret

The first step to taking care of a dehydrated ferret is to take them to the vet. They will receive a proper diagnosis and be treated with medication. Next, ensure that your ferret is taking water and replenishing lost electrolytes. You can do this by adding a small amount of Pedialyte with water – 1-part Pedialyte to 1 part water.

Ideally use unflavored Pedialyte if you can. You can also add 1-part Gatorade with 3 parts water. Add the mix to the water dish or bottle. If your ferret doesn’t want to take the mixture, use a syringe and manually administer the electrolyte drink.

Fill a small syringe with the mixture, hold your ferret with one hand, and press the mix into the ferret’s mouth.  Be careful not to force the water into the lungs. Instead, press a small amount of the mixture on the side of the mouth, allowing the ferret to swallow comfortably at their own pace. 

Cleaning the water bowl

The fact that you need to clean the water bowls and water bottles is understood. As a ferret owner, you need to clean your ferret’s water bottle or water dish every day. Bacteria can grow in a dirty water dish or water bottle and can contaminate the water within. Drinking that bacteria-infested water will definitely make your ferret sick.

Wash the water bottle or water dish every day using soap and warm water. Every morning fill the clean bowl or the bottle with water. Remove any ring or buildup formed along the dish or bottle using vinegar or baking soda.

Water bottles are a little harder to clean. You need to use a long narrow brush like the ones that are used to clean baby bottles that easily fits through the neck of the bottle in order to help clean the inside of the bottle. If the bottle is not cleaned for a few days, you might witness the growth of algae in the bottle.

There are many wide neck bottles available in the market nowadays that are very easy to clean. Never use bleach in order to clean your bottles as residue from the bleach contaminates the water and messes up the ferret’s digestive system.

This can cause your ferret to get extremely sick and may even result in death. Bleach will burn the stomach lining, intestinal tissue, mouth, and esophagus of your ferret.

Giardia

Ferrets can develop giardiasis easily if they come into contact with the Giardia protozoa. These protozoa grow where feces contaminate the drinking water.

Some symptoms of this infection include loss of appetite, foul smell, greasy stools, pale and soft stools, and weightlessness.  Take your ferret to the vet as soon as you think there is something wrong. The proper diagnosis can save your ferret’s life.