When shopping for a ferret from a pet store or breeder, you will likely see the phrase "descented" used to advertise pets for sale. This description sounds like the ferret won't smell at all, but that's misleading and untrue. Discover the truth behind ferret scent gland removal surgery before deciding to pick a descented animal or take your pet into the vet for the procedure.
1. Descenting Reduces Overall Smell
Perhaps the biggest misunderstanding about descenting is the assumption that it completely removes all of the ferret's distinctive odor. However, the vet performing the surgery only cuts out the anal glands that release a puff of concentrated smell. These anal glands only express when the animal is scared or in pain, just like dogs, cats, and other carnivores raised as pets. A descented ferret still has a distinctive musky odor.
2. No Other Procedures Help with Smell
If you're not a big fan of that musky smell, pick a ferret that is spayed or neutered already or visit your vet for the surgery. Sterilization helps the ferret live a longer and healthier life, as well as reducing the general odor the pet leaves behind on bedding and toys. This is especially noticeable for male ferrets, but it's also important for females because their health is at risk when they go into heat without being bred. While descenting is optional, spaying and neutering are practically mandatory surgeries for ferrets being kept as pets instead of used for breeding.
3. There are No Risks
Getting the anal scent glands removed by a vet experienced in performing surgery on small animals is relatively safe. There are a few risks to the surgery and its recovery, including:
- Bad reactions to the anesthesia
- Infections during healing and months after if bits of gland tissue are accidentally left behind
- Prolapse problems leading to incontinence
4. Descenting is Never Necessary
While there are plenty of reasons to avoid descenting surgery, it is recommended in some cases. It's best to take your ferret to a trustworthy vet and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision either way. Descenting can help ferrets that develop naturally leaky anal glands, release scent blasts multiple times a day, or experience chronic compaction and infection problems in the glands.
Focus on surgeries and care tactics proven to manage ferret odor instead of assuming descenting surgery is all you need. A proper diet and daily litter box changes make ferrets a less smelly pet than most dogs and many other small animals.
To learn more, contact a veterinary clinic like My Rancho Bernardo Pet Hospital.