My son, Chet, romps with his kit, Laddie

    I have had asthma and allergies my entire life.  At some points in my life it was much more severe or mild than now.  I have always loved animals, and grew up on a farm.  I have tried everything from birds, bunny’s, mice, horses, cows, goats, to anything that moved.  Of course anything in the fish, reptile or amphibian families worked out great.  I continue to have those around.  I wanted the companionship of a fuzzie though…and something smart and social like a dog or cat.  Enter the ferret.
     People have reportedly had lower incidence of severe allergic reaction to ferrets than any other mammal I know.  Some people claim to be allergic to the famous so called hypoallergenic dogs Bichon Frises, yet not allergic to ferrets.   I say if you have allergies to dust, and/or animals to beware.  Precautions must be taken even with ferrets.
       I have personally found that one ferret does not bother me in the least.  Two or three ferrets I must take caution and do certain things.  Anything above that is a risk to me and I must engage in constant preventative measures to be able to have that many.  I currently have five and have slight difficulty now with the pollen season.  I went over my threshold for sure.  But it’s ok.
      Let me share with you my experience on how to get along with ferrets and allergies.  The following tips are for multiple ferrets … we’ll say three.  You can pump up what I say for more ferrets or decrease some of the things for less.  One key thing with these tips:  ferrets should not be considered a bunch of work but fun, so think of it as doting over them, also your family needs you healthy so it is a good idea for them to all pitch in.  The less you are around the litter pans, etc the better.  And the more engaged the family is the more fun.


-   Completely wash a large cage 1x/week or a very small cage 2x/week.  Use a damp cloth to go over the wires of the cage for dust and dander stopping to rinse out the cloth so as to not just “push it around”.  Use a bowl of warm water and a couple capfulls of beach and a cloth to wash any solid floors.  Then rinse with a cloth wet with regular water.  Let dry and air out before putting anything back in the cage including ferrets.

-   Wash all hammocks and any bedding such as blankees, towels, shirts, what have you.  Wash them in warm-hot water, with plain detergent such as cheer free, era, etc… brands that are known to be good for allergic people (this is not only good for you but the ferrets).  Use an extra rinse cycle to get rid of any extra hair, etc..  Do NOT use any fabric softners.  Keep extra sets of bedding so that you do not have to do so much laundry and so that it’s convenient.  I switch mine out about every three days.  I’m sure some people will need to only do it 2x/week, and I’m sure there are some out there that will like to do it every other day.  If you do not wash your laundry right away, keep it in a plastic garbage bag out of your bedroom , or in the enclosed washer so it is not sitting around to bother your allergies.

-   Wash any blankets around the home for the ferrets that they sleep in often in the same manner. 

-   Toys are something forgotten quite often.  Saliva, urine, and dander are what people are allergic to.  So wipe off and spot wash any toys when you can.

-   Scoop litter pans as often as you can.  Ours are scooped in the mornings, and evenings as well as 1-2 times in between .  

-   Completely change out, and wash out liter pans with a mixture of bleach and water at least once a week, I prefer much more. 

-   Which brings us to the question of liter.  Which kind?  Well I have found that the cheaper clay litters do not absorb enough, and are very, very dusty.  Many people like the recycled paper litter pellets.  I sneeze around newspapers… I do not know why (the ink?), I personally was a bit weary of those.  That litter did not seem to bother me however, but it just didn’t seem to absorb much at all.  So then I tried pine pellets.  I love those.  They have seemed to absorb the most plus do a great job masking odor.  They have a little dust on them, but not much at all.  Another option is stove wood pellets found in fireplace specialty stores.  This is truly a great option.  The cost is a fraction the cost of other litters, and they are as absorbent as the pine litter.   I know of a shelter mom that is severely allergic to those… to the point of getting rashes from touching the dust, etc.  My family is suspect that I am currently having a bit of a reaction to them and have returned to the pine pellets to see if there is any difference.  There’s lots of choices including rabbit food… but I have no idea how this would affect allergies.  Since rabbit food includes alfalfa and many things I’m allergic to I have not tried it.

-   Finally we address the ferrets.  Make sure they stay out of any dusty areas... ahhh but you should have no dusty areas in your home with allergies correct?  Hahaha!    Keep your ferrets away from dirt and such.  Bath them, but not too often or you will be doing something that is unhealthy for the ferret, and stimulating the glands to release the very things that bother you!  You will also be drying out very delicate skin and making them release further dander.  So I would recommend only bathing every few months if you can.  If you can not… Please don’t bath the ferrets more than once a month.  Make sure also that you use a gentle cleaner, a shampoo made specifically for ferrets.  I would also get a cream rinse for ferrets so you do not dry out their skin too badly. 

-   I don’t know if this helps, but I have my sons take the ferrets outside during fall and spring (shedding seasons), and brush the ferrets regularly … AWAY from me.

-   Keep your bedroom door closed at all times, and keep all fuzzies OUT of there at all times.  You spend half your life sleeping in your room… it should be a healthy haven for you.

-   Lastly don’t forget to dust and vacuum your home often.  If a friend or family member could do this instead of you that’s all the more better.  Other known precautions of any allergies should be carried out as much as possible such as cleaning air-conditioning filters and vents, dusting, keeping plants in the house to a minimum, opening window shades to let in light to inhibit mold spore growth, keeping windows shut in the spring and summer, using a plastic matress cover beneath any padding and bed sheets, usage of some air cleaners, do not smoke in the home, the list goes on and on, confer with your allergist for a host more of information.  One thing is for certain, if one of these things is out of control than that makes you all the more susceptable to allergins  you otherwise would not react to.  Think of it as a delicate line of dominoes... knock one down and... well you get the picture.

To hear the ferret, Laddie, laugh

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