As with all pets, regular dental care is vital to your ferret's continued good health. The uncontrolled build up of plaque and tartar can lead to gum, tooth and jawbone disease in your pet. If allowed to go untreated, mouth infections will eventually cause your ferret to suffer a systemic physical breakdown due to the spread of dangerous bacteria and toxins.

It is important to brush your ferret's teeth regularly. Feed her dry food to help keep her teeth clean and take her to the veterinarian for an annual cleaning. Also, if you notice any sudden discoloration in the teeth or redness along the gum line, have your vet check her immediately.

Typical Problems

In ferrets, plaque and tartar are most noticeable as dark patches on the cheek teeth, and can be spotted by gently lifting your ferret's upper lip.

However, it's the unseen tartar under the gum line that causes most damage by loosening the delicate membranes that hold the teeth in their sockets. Infections develop around the receding gums and teeth, causing periodontal disease.

If untreated, a much more serious gum disease called pyorrhea may follow. This infection manifests itself as inflammation and bleeding of gums.

Preventative Measures

To minimize the risk of gum disease:

  • Clean your ferret's teeth twice a week, and after giving her sticky or sugary treats.
  • Do NOT use human toothpaste. It is too foamy and will upset your pet's stomach. A simple salt water solution or baking soda work just fine. Or you can get ferret enzymatic toothpaste from the vet.
  • Use either a soft children's toothbrush or a small cat or kitten toothbrush. If your ferret won't allow you to introduce a toothbrush into her mouth, try a small piece of gauze cloth.
  • Hold your ferret by the scruff of the neck. This will cause her to yawn, thus allowing you to clean her teeth more easily.

Annual Checkup and Cleaning

No matter how well and how often you brush your ferret's teeth, some tartar build up will occur - often below the gum line where it is difficult to notice. That's why it is important to bring your ferret to the vet for an annual cleaning under anesthesia. Your vet will also check for cracked or broken teeth and signs of gum abscess.

While ferret tooth scalars are available from pet supply outlets, it is advisable that you don't attempt to scale her teeth at home unless you've been properly trained on how to use the scalar. It is easy to cut your ferret's gums and cause a lot of damage. Also, only your vet can get at the tartar under the gum line.