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Rabbit Grooming Needs

These rabbit grooming tips will help you keep your pet looking and feeling good.

Caroline Charland
Posted: February 4, 2015, 3:45 p.m. EST

rabbit in litter box
© Gina Cioli/I-5 Studio
Rabbits who are healthy and kept in a clean environment usually keep themselves clean and don't need a bath.

Q: I have a female Lionhead rabbit who is about a year and a half old. My question is about bathing. I have read that you should not give your rabbit a bath for risk of their anxiety and the fact they can groom themselves. However, I have also read that you can. I have never bathed my rabbit before, but I kind of wanted to just to ensure her cleanliness. I do not plan on it becoming a regular thing, it's just been a long time that I've had her and a bath could be beneficial.

A: You are correct — rabbits are very clean animals and do not need to be bathed. Bathing a rabbit can stress the rabbit and even put him or her into shock. If a rabbit becomes dirty it usually means that the rabbit has a health problem or is being kept in an area that is not cleaned often enough. 

Rabbits need a large area to live in. A 4-foot by 4-foot space is the smallest we suggest at the Bunny Bunch, the rabbit rescue I founded. In that area should be a big litter box with rabbit-safe litter piled with hay. Spayed or neutered rabbits will use the litter box, which makes it easy for their caregiver to keep clean. Keeping the litter box clean is important to keep the rabbit using it. Generally the litter box should be cleaned every other day, and fresh hay should be piled on top twice a day.

Although rabbits do not need a bath, rabbits should be brushed at least three times a week, and every day when they are shedding. Because rabbits groom themselves they ingest the loose hair, which can slow down in their gastrointestinal tract. By brushing the loose hair off, you help prevent that from happening. Unlimited hay is very important as the high-fiber diet helps everything move through the GI tract.

A rabbit’s nails need to be trimmed, too. Generally, this is needed about every four weeks. Plus their scent glands should be cleaned at the same time. [If you do not know how to clean scent glands or do not wish to, take your rabbit to the veterinarian, a rabbit rescue that regularly does this or to a professional groomer skilled in grooming rabbits. — Eds.]

If you rabbit has long hair you may need to brush your rabbit daily to prevent knots. If knots do occur they should be cut out as they can cause sores by rubbing the skin. Be very careful not to cut the skin. If you are not sure how to groom your rabbit, most rabbit rescues will show you how. At the Bunny Bunch we offer free nail trims and scent glad cleaning at both out adoption centers. We also offer a full grooming service.

Often rabbits come in to the Bunny Bunch rescue with a dirty bottom. This is often from being fed a bad diet that causes the poop to get soft and wet and it then gets stuck to the fur around the bottom. In this case we cut off any dirty fur and do a bottom bath. We then blow dry the area (blow dryer on low) to make sure the rabbit is dry. 

Sometimes older rabbits cannot reach down to each their cecotropes and you may find them stuck to their bottom, or on the floor. Cecotropes are a small, moist cluster of poops that a rabbits eats, normally as soon as they are produced. Many people don't even know about this. It’s all part of a rabbit keeping his GI tract healthy. Older rabbits might need more help with grooming.

Like this article? Please share it, and check out:
Rabbit Grooming Tips
Rabbit Gets Stinky And Pellets Stick To Rump
12 Common Rabbit Behaviors That May Puzzle You 
See more rabbit behavior Q&As
See rabbit health Q&As
See author bio for Caroline Charland

Posted: February 4, 2015, 3:45 p.m. EST

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