Despite bunnies being avid groomers, an owner’s involvement in the rabbit grooming process is necessary for their hygiene improvement. Rabbit grooming entails cleaning them up, and clipping their overgrown toenails and fur. Untidy coats make your bunnies have a messy look, hide lumps, overgrown nails, or even skin-related ailments.
Rabbits having short coats, on the other hand, find it easier to keep themselves clean and typically require less assistance than their counterparts. In this article, we will talk about all there is to know when it comes to grooming your rabbit.
An ideal grooming Tool Kit
A suitable grooming kit is one that comes fully packed and is also convenient and effective for use. Below is what an ideal grooming tool kit should comprise.
- Pin brush
The pin brush removes loose hair and is normally used for cats, although it’s also suitable for rabbits. This particular brush is usually small, having straight metal pins.
- Flea comb
This particular comb is a multipurpose one. It untangles a rabbit’s coat and removes loose hair, fleas, and fecal traces on the coat.
- Wide-tooth comb
This grooming tool is ideal for matting prevention, and its use is after combing your bunny using a pin brush.
- Bristle brush
Another convenient brush for rabbit grooming is the bristle brush. This particular tool has soft nylon bristles, and they are useful for removing excessive hair and shining the coat. In other words, the bristle brush acts as a finishing touch.
- Mat rake
The mat rake’s function is to remove extremely matted rabbit hair.
- Toenail clippers
The specially designed rabbit nail clippers are another convenient tool specially designed for clipping your pet’s overgrown nails.
- Styptic powder
Its main use is to prevent blood from oozing when you accidentally cut a blood vein while clipping.
Cotton effectively applies styptic powder on a rabbit’s wound, while cotton-tipped swabs clean its eyes and ears.
Importance of Keeping a Rabbit Calm during grooming
Rabbits are naturally prey animals and will instinctively struggle to escape when lifted off their feet. However, you’ll also find that only a few percent of bunnies are naturally calm when hauled off their feet.
When grooming your bunnies, they must remain calm, especially during nail clipping, to enable the process to go smoothly. On the bright side, rabbits are intelligent animals that are easy to train. All you need to do is to build some trust with your furry pets. After repetitive handling, rabbits normally drop their guard down during grooming or when lifted.
Lifting a Rabbit the right way
When lifting your rabbit, it’s usually essential to do it gently which makes your bunny feel safe and secure. Below is how to lift your rabbit the right way.
- Have a calm demeanor while interacting with your pet rabbit. Gently pat your rabbit’s head and offer them a snack to build more trust.
- To lift the bunny, place your hand down their side and under the chest. Use your other hand to support its bum.
- While supporting your bunny’s hindquarters and chest, gently lift it upholding it lightly against you.
A Rabbits Grooming Routine
A rabbit usually needs grooming particularly on its fur, nails, and ears. It’s essential to do a health check to ensure they are ok. Lastly, it is also recommendable to ensure that your pet’s habitat is clean and mess-free after grooming. Below is a basic routine for keeping your rabbits clean.
When it comes to brushing your rabbit, place them on your lap while ensuring they are relaxed and comfortable. When brushing, we usually categorize rabbits into either short or long-haired breeds. Below is how to properly brush each breed’s fur.
Brushing short-hairy rabbits
- Use a pin brush to gently comb through your rabbit’s coat while ensuring not to comb against it. When brushing, avoid the ear, face, tail, and feet regions as they are normally quite sensitive.
- Proceed using a flea comb by working your way through the rabbits’ coats to remove any matted hair or fleas.
- Finally, finish off by gently combing using a bristle brush.
Brushing Long-Hairy Rabbits
Bunnies having long hair are usually more prone to having a tangled coat and, if left, unattended can become very difficult to comb. Daily brushes are therefore highly encouraged since this particular rabbit breed hair tangles quicker.
- Using a pin brush, begin to comb through your long-haired bunny’s coat the same way you would on a short-haired rabbit breed.
- Gently part your rabbit’s coat into various sections, then use a flea comb to brush the fur, beginning with the root region going outwards.
- Comb using a wide-tooth comb, then finish off using a bristle brush to give your pet a neat tangle-free coat.
It’s worth saying that when brushing your rabbit’s coat, avoid pulling its fur. Pet bunnies, in general, usually have sensitive skin that can easily get injured. In case your fur is too matted to be untangled using a brush, always seek help from a qualified vet.
2. Clipping a rabbit’s Toenails
Rabbit grooming also entails taking care of its toenails. Overgrown toenails can interfere with a rabbit’s walking by getting trapped on items or accidentally scratching their owners.
Clip after a period of about seven to eight weeks. Clipping a rabbit’s toenails usually needs two sets of hands as the rabbits usually tend to struggle a lot. Alternatively, you can also take your bunnies to the vet to have them clipped. Overgrown nails usually protrude past a bunny’s foot fur. Below is the proper procedure on how to clip your bunny’s toenails.
Clipping the front leg’s nails
- Let your clipping assistant sit down and then place the rabbit on their lap, then gently hold it. Ensure that your bunny’s back is against your assistant’s stomach.
- In case your rabbit is struggling to sit, gently wrap it using a towel and then wait for it to calm down.
- Hold the front legs of your bunny and begin with its dewclaw. Carefully trim the nail tips using guillotine clippers. Position the clip on the nail side to get a better grip while being careful not to cut any blood veins (known as the quick)
- Avoid cutting the nails closer to the quick as it can lead to accidentally cutting it when your bunny flinches hence causing it to bleed. In case this happens, don’t panic; apply styptic powder to the injury to stop the bleeding.
- Repeat the process with the remaining front leg toes taking breaks when your bunny becomes restless.
Clipping the Hind leg nails
- A rabbit’s hind nails are usually thicker and also more fragile.
- Before clipping, ensure that you gently hold your bunny with its head stuck at the back under your arm.
- Place your pet in a comfortable position to prevent it from struggling or trying to escape during clipping.
- Proceed by gently pulling the hind legs at the back or sideways, whichever position your bunny is most comfortable with, then again gently clip its overgrown nails.
Rabbits naturally hate being exposed to water, and in most cases, you might find them struggling to slip from your grasp. Cleaning your bunnies involves brushing their coats to remove any dirt. However, there are instances when your bunny will need a bath.
It is recommendable to wash your rabbits when they have soiled themselves or reek of urine. Below is how to properly bathe your pet rabbit.
- Half Fill two basins, each with lukewarm water.
- Insert the soiled body part and not the whole rabbit into one of the water basins.
- Loosen up the matted region using a brush or washcloth.
- Apply a small amount of shampoo to the soiled area. Preferably, use cat shampoo.
- After applying the shampoo to the affected region, dip the rabbit in the second basin to rinse off your rabbit.
- Finally, dry your bunny using a towel and place it in a warm place. It’s worth mentioning that rabbits easily get hypothermia compared to humans, and therefore essential to ensure that your pet thoroughly dries.
4. Ear cleaning
A rabbit’s ears need occasional checking at least once per week by cleaning any buildup such as wax or dirt debris. Cleaning a rabbit’s ear entails using a cotton ball to remove any buildup.
Also, while cleaning your rabbit’s ear, avoid pushing the cotton-tipped swab down the rabbit’s canal as it can lead to injuries in the long run. Lastly, when your bunnies ear has a crusty discharge, smells bad, or looks red after cleaning, immediately book a vet appointment. The probable cause might be ear mites that cause a disease known as ear canker.
5. Health Check
When grooming your bunny, it’s always fundamental to be on the lookout for abnormalities such as lumps, sores, ticks, or fleas. In case any of the issues mentioned above are present, ensure that you visit your local vet. Below is how to check the overall health of your bunnies.
- Check on your rabbits’ eyes to make sure that there is no discharge or swelling.
- Examine its ears to ensure that it has no parasites and is also infection-free.
- Next is to examine its teeth and make sure they’re not long enough to affect their eating.
- Check whether their jawlines have any bumps, and in case your bunny’s jaw isn’t symmetrical, don’t hesitate to visit your vet.
- Examine your bunny’s feet to see whether they have footsore, also known as pododermatitis. The main cause of footsore is as a result of excessive weight or a wire mesh caging floor. If not properly treated, it can often lead to sores that become infected and eventually become inflamed.
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