Grooming is essential for keeping your rabbit healthy, clean, and free of parasites. It can also be a great way to bond. But your rabbit’s grooming is more than just an occasional brush-out. We’ll show which tools you need, and all the best techniques for grooming your rabbits from ears to cotton tail.
Rabbits, like cats, keep themselves clean, but they also require regular grooming to stay happy and healthy. Rabbit grooming isn’t difficult, and you don’t have to go to a special rabbit groomer. But it does take time, and it does require the right tools. Your rabbit grooming routine should include a head-to-toe check, taking special care to remove loose hair and matted fur.
Grooming is an excellent way to bond with your rabbits, and if you do it right, your rabbits may even look forward to it.
The main point of grooming is removing excess fur. Doing this can:
- Keep your rabbit from developing hairballs
- Help to prevent fleas and other parasites
- Keep your rabbit cool in the summer
- Help your rabbit to stay clean
Grooming also gives you the chance to give your rabbits a regular all-over check for other problems. We’ll talk about this in a bit.
How Often Should You Groom Your Rabbits?
Rabbits need grooming at least once a week. Long-haired bunny rabbits and those that can’t groom themselves should have a daily check. Healthy short-haired rabbits can get by with a weekly grooming. Rabbits shed their coats every three months, so make sure they also get a good brush-out at shedding time.
Rabbit Grooming Tools
Good grooming starts with quality tools. Here’s what you need for your bunny salon.
Spreading a towel on your lap can keep you clean and free of fur. If your rabbits hate having their nails done, gently wrapping them in a towel can make the process easier.
Use a damp washcloth to spot clean your rabbits’ fur as needed. This is especially important if any of your rabbits has a difficult time cleaning itself.
Cotton Balls and Swabs
Cotton balls come in handy for cleaning rabbits’ ears, as well as for spot-cleaning. Swabs are an essential tool for cleaning rabbits’ rear scent glands.
There are two kinds of brushes you might use to groom your rabbits. A soft bristle brush has widely-spaced flexible bristles. You can use it to gently tease tangles from fur. A shedding brush (also called a pin brush or a slicker) has closely-spaced metal bristles. Use this one to remove excess fur from rabbits.
The Furminator is a de-shedding tool similar to a brush. It comes in two varieties: one for long-haired pets, and one for short-haired pets. Both allow you to remove excess fur from the undercoat without damaging the top coat. Stroke your rabbit with the Furminator as you would with a brush.
A fine-toothed comb can help you to check for fleas beneath the fur, as well as to find mats and tangles. Make sure to be careful of your rabbit’s skin, however.
Small Animal Nail Clippers
Keeping rabbits’ nails trimmed can keep them walking comfortably. Also, if your hutch has a wire floor, it can help keep your rabbit’s nails from catching on the wire.
You may be tempted to use human toenail clippers on your bunny’s nails. However, a set of blunt-ended clippers specially made for small animals is safer and can give you a more precise cut.
No matter how careful you are clipping your bunny’s nails, you may cut too close to the quick. When this happens, the nail will bleed. A pet-safe styptic powder can stop the bleeding fast.
Giving Your Rabbit a Brush-Out
Brush your rabbit once a week. If your bunny has long hair, you may need to brush that hair more often. You might also need to brush their hair more often during shedding season. Also, removing excess fur in the summer months can help to keep your bunny cool.
How to Brush Your Rabbit
First, stroke your rabbit with your fingers to remove tangles and find mats. Next, cut out any mats. Then use your slicker brush or Furminator to remove excess fur, making sure to be gentle with your rabbit’s skin. Top it off with the soft bristle brush. Always brush in the direction that your rabbit’s fur grows.
A few words of caution:
- Never tug or pull at mats. Use a pair of blunt-ended scissors to cut the hair out instead.
- Be very gentle with your slicker brush, as it can hurt or even tear delicate rabbit skin.
Here’s how to brush a short-haired rabbit.
The process for brushing a long-haired rabbit is a bit different.
How to Trim Your Rabbit’s Nails
I’ve never had a bunny that has enjoyed a nail trim. But if you’re careful and gentle, your rabbit might come to accept that nail trim with good grace.
First, sit your bunny on your lap. If your rabbit hates having its nails done as much as mine do, you might want to wrap them loosely in a towel before you start.
Now, look for the quick. If your rabbit has light-colored skin and nails, this is easy. The part of the nail above the quick is darker than the part below it. For darker-colored nails, it may be more difficult to tell.
Now, snip off the end of your rabbit’s nail. Make sure to stay well clear of the quick.
Here’s how it’s done.
Your Rabbit’s Weekly M.O.T.
Grooming time gives you an opportunity to inspect your bunny from head to toe to make sure everything is in working order. Here’s what your weekly Rabbit M.O.T. should cover.
Your rabbit has two sets of scent glands. One set is under the chin, on either side of the face. The other is on its bottom, on either side of the genitals. For the most part, your rabbit can look after these parts themselves. However, occasionally, the glands on the bottom may become impacted. In this case, you should clean them.
Check your bunny’s bottom when you do your weekly grooming. If the scent glands are plugged, here’s how to clean them:
First, check your bunny’s nails and trim them if needed.
Next, look for excess or matted hair between the toes and on the soles of your bunny’s feet. Trim this as well, if necessary.
Finally, examine your bunny’s feet for cuts, sores or other damage.
Bunnies have ear wax, just like we do. And just like with us, it might need to be cleaned out once in a while. This is easy if you have a rabbit-safe ear cleaning solution (your vet can help you with this) and some cotton balls. Also take this opportunity to check for ear mites.
The condition of your rabbit’s eyes can be an indicator of general health. So when you’re doing your weekly rabbit grooming, check for anything out of the ordinary, including:
- Dirt or buildup
Use a cotton ball to gently remove discharge. If it continues, contact your vet.
Using your fine-toothed comb, gently comb back your rabbit’s fur and have a look at the skin. Keep an eye out for:
- Signs of flystrike
Flystrike is most common in rabbits that have a difficult time cleaning themselves due to age, infirmity, or obesity. It can become very serious within a matter of hours, so if you see flies, eggs, or maggots on your rabbit’s skin or in its fur, take them to the vet immediately.
If you find evidence of other parasites, your vet can prescribe a rabbit-safe treatment. Do not use treatments meant for cats or dogs.
Check to see that your rabbit’s bottom is clean. Look for and deal with:
- Hair mats
- Plugged scent glands
Rabbits and Water
Never try to bathe your rabbit. It’s very stressful for them, and they may also injure themselves trying to get away.
It’s not difficult to groom your bunny, but you need to understand the process, and you need the right tools. If you do it right, you and your rabbit may end up enjoying your weekly visits to the bunny salon.
How do you groom your rabbit? Did we miss anything out? Let us know in the comments!