You should check your ferret's paws regularly and clean away any dirt and other foreign objects with a moistened cloth.
Clip your ferret's nails every two to three weeks to avoid potential paw problems, damage to floors and furniture, scratches when you handle him, and the danger of a nail being caught and torn off.
Note: Do NOT declaw your pet under any circumstances. Unlike a cat, your ferret's nails are not retractable and he needs them for basic tasks such as walking and grasping and climbing.
Nail Trimming Rules and Tools
Approaches to Clipping
- Before cutting your ferret's nails, look carefully to locate the "quick", which is the pink line inside the nail. The quick is a blood vessel that will bleed and cause pain if it is nicked. Ordinarily, you want to trim the nail a little bit longer than the quick.
- Any small animal nail clipper will be fine for your ferret. The best have replaceable blades so as not to crush the nail. Make sure the blade is sharp and replace it if it's not. If the cutter is sharp, the nails won't be pulled or cracked.
- Use an emery board or nail file after you've trimmed the nail to help prevent splitting and to keep the nail from catching on cloth surfaces and carpeting.
Your ferret won't normally stand still to have his nails clipped. He will squirm and twist and generally make it very difficult for you; however, over time, he may accept and enjoy getting his nail trimmed - if only for the extra attention he's getting from you. There are a couple of different approaches to clipping your ferret's nails. You should experiment to discover which one's best for you.
How to Cut Your Ferret's Nails
- Get a helper: Have your assistant hold the ferret by the scruff of the neck. It may be helpful if your helper has a treat or has a few drops of a vitamin supplement on their finger as this may keep your ferret occupied long enough to trim his nails. Sometimes the treat is not necessary but always reward them with one when you are done.
- Bribe your ferret: Use a vitamin supplement that he loves. Hold the ferret on your lap, lay him on his back and put a few drops of the vitamin supplement on his stomach and show him where it is. Start clipping while he is busy licking.
If you have never trimmed your ferret's nails before, it is recommended to have a veterinarian or someone who is experienced in working with and grooming ferrets show you how to do it correctly the first time. It's important to know how to cut nails correctly as it will help you avoid hurting your ferret and, therefore, make the experience much more positive for both of you.
Catching a Nail
- Clip carefully, cut parallel to where the floor will be when your ferret stands, to prevent the tip from breaking off at a later time.
- If the nail is long, don't try to clip it all at once. Nip away at it gradually.
- Smooth any rough edges with an emery board, nail file or rasp.
- If you're having trouble seeing the quick, stop at the point where the nail curves downward towards the floor.
- Occasionally, you may accidentally cut the quick. Your ferret will scream, you might jump and the toe will bleed. Keep a styptic pencil handy to clot the blood quickly. Or use clotting powder on a moist cotton swab. If you don't have either, hold a piece of tissue paper or paper towel over the nail and keep the foot elevated until the bleeding stops. If the nail continues to bleed longer than a few minutes, it's a good idea to consult with your veterinarian.
If your ferret does snag his nail against something:
- Hold him by the scruff of the neck so that he doesn't try to bite you while angry and upset.
- Free the nail and check out the damage.
- If the nail has been torn out beyond the quick or completely ripped out of the nail bed, stop the bleeding and take him to your veterinarian immediately.
- If the nail is broken but hasn't been ripped out, stop the bleeding, clip and file any shredded pieces and clean with hydrogen peroxide. If the area continues to bleed, seek veterinary attention.