Q - What types of cleaning supplies are harmful to my ferrets?
A - There is no way I can stress the importance of this enough. If you want to know more about how the cleaning products you use may be killing (yes, really) your ferrets, you could start at www.drrapp.com Dr. Doris Rapp is a pediatric allergist who is devoting her retirement (ha!) to educating people about what we are doing to our children.
Everything she says about children goes at least double for the ferrets.
Be especially conscious of floor and carpet cleaning products. Your ferret is down there inhaling those chemicals. Remember, if you can smell it, you are inhaling it. Thankfully, it is easy to find natural cleaning products these days. Sun and Earth, Seventh Generation, and similar products are made from natural ingredients and will not harm you or your fuzzies.
Chemicals cause cancers. Many tumors are actually formed around toxins (see Dr. Rapp's books, Your Toxic World and Is This Your Child's World?) Plastics and related chemicals are responsible for hormonal changes (hmmmm.... adrenal disease?) in children (early puberty in girls, low sperm count and deformed penises in boys).
Don't be attracted by perfumes, either. Bird people don't burn scented candles or use air sprays at all. They also don't use non-stick cookware. If it's bad for the canaries, can it be good for the people in the coal mine?
Laundry products are very important. In your case, your skin is your largest organ and it absorbs everything you put on it. Ferrets groom themselves and bury their faces in their bedding. Dr. Rapp says Tide and Downey are incredibly toxic, causing more allergic reactions than all the other products. All fabric softeners are a bad idea. They coat fabric with chemicals that rub off on you and your fuzzies. If you want to add a nice smell to the laundry, put a little vanilla extract in a little water and soak a clean rag or cloth in it. Throw that in the dryer with the clothes.
Don't blow this off by saying, "Everything is bad for me. There's nothing I can do." Try this: "Many, many things are bad for me. At least there are some easy and important things I can do." You have the power to make a few good decisions that will mean a lot to you, your family, and your ferrets. - Judith White, FML
Q - What's the best way to keep my house smelling clean, without harming my ferret(s)?
A - At this point in time, the best way to be sure that an air purifier is safe and effective is to use a help filter air cleaner, and if it has a charcoal filter that you can clean or change that will reduce odors. Other ways to reduce odors: change litter pots daily. Clean bedding weekly (It is safest to avoid fabric softener and to stick to detergents without perfumes or dyes.) Do not bathe your ferret too often; when the skin becomes too irritated the skin oils which carry the scent increase. Some food ingredients which can be good for a ferret's health such as fish oil, or egg yolk can add scent but they are healthy so it is better to not purposely avoid them due to odor alone, though there are alternatives since flax oil can provide omega 3 fatty acids, and there are many other protein sources. Using a high quality food reduces the amount of food the ferret needs to eat to be satisfied, and therefore reduces the amount of waste produced. A good food is worth every penny.
Two ways of freshening the air have repeatedly been discussed in several ferret sites during the past in relation to injury suffered by ferrets: some of the perfumed air fresheners, and appliances that generate high levels of ozone, such as some ionic air "cleaners" and ozone generators. High levels of ozone damage a ferret's respiratory tract, but giving up breathing isn't exactly an option for them or for us. While we all want enough ozone high above us in the ozone layer, having it in the air we daily breathe is anything but a good idea.
Freddie Ann Hoffman M.D., a pediatrician and ferret advocate, has an article on the risks of ozone. - Sukie (not a vetrinarian, FHL)
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