You may know well already that rabbits are not crazy at all about getting wet. While you may enjoy to the extreme a nice foot bath, just being brought close to a bathtub can make a bunny incredibly stressed. However, there may be situations when a little bit of grooming is recommended.
How to take care of a bunny and its general cleanliness is the topic of this article. You will learn here about the reason why rabbits don’t like water, and what happens if you try to bathe a bunny forcefully. Also, you will see what methods are recommended, and what you can do to keep your rabbit both happy and clean.
Can rabbits die if they take a bath?
Let’s start by cleaning the air a little in regards to this particular controversy. Bunnies dislike water and being forced into taking a bath, but there is no evidence that they could die because of that. The argument offered by the supporters of this particular myth is that bunnies could become so stressed that their hearts could give up.
Bunnies get scared quickly, but that’s not enough to cause them to have a heart attack in the bathtub. However, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore all the warnings and try to force a rabbit to get a bath. While trying to escape, your pet might bend its spine so severely that it could break, and member fractures are not out of the question.
Also, if you fail to dry your pet rabbit well enough after a bath, you might risk making it ill with respiratory infections, pneumonia, and other related diseases. Therefore, bathing and grooming a rabbit must be approached with particular care.
You don’t need to bathe your rabbit regularly
We will talk a little bit later about how to wash a rabbit properly. For now, we will focus on something that all bunny owners should know: your pet doesn’t need to take baths regularly. It’s not a dog, and it doesn’t get as dirty as other pets.
Rabbits groom themselves all the time, pretty much as cats do. They also consider grooming a social activity, so, if you have more than one rabbit, you will quickly notice that they groom each other daily.
That means that rabbits are clean creatures and you don’t need to subject them to the ordeal of going through a bath. As shown earlier, forcing a bunny into a bathtub for a cleanup can result in many health issues for your pet, and that’s the last thing you want.
Tools needed for grooming a rabbit
Your bunny, however, may appreciate a little bit of grooming. Since they are clean animals and they like grooming, whether they do it to themselves or other rabbits, bunnies would be much more appreciative of your decision to give them some well-deserved grooming.
First of all, you will need the proper supplies. A soft-bristled brush is a primary tool you will need for grooming your pet bunny. You may also want to get a flea comb, as rabbits might have trouble with such critters, just like other pets.
Some toenail clippers and cotton swaps should be readily available. A mat rake is another useful tool for grooming a rabbit with long hair. Experts recommend an antibiotic ointment, too, but you might not need that regularly.
Things to know about how to groom a pet bunny
To make sure that your rabbit needs grooming, you should first feel the pet’s entire body, making sure to check for fleas, overgrown nails, lumps, clumps of hair, and so on. Seeing how bunnies love to groom themselves, you won’t need to groom yours that often, but it serves to pay attention to any sign of problems.
Place your rabbit on your lap or the top of a towel on a large even surface. Do not just leave your pet on a high surface, as it might fall and get injured. In case you have rabbits with long hair, consider brushing them two times a week.
Fleas are usually a problem at the beginning of summer, and these nasty critters can cause your rabbit to become anemic. Since the use of chemicals is not recommended for pet bunnies, a flea comb is a better choice.
When is a bath recommended?
By now, you must know that bathing a rabbit should be the last option for getting your pet clean. While typically, vets advise against getting your bunny wet, there are situations and medical conditions that require a bath for your pet.
Specific ailments that affect rabbits can prevent them from grooming themselves, and that is when you must consider taking your bunny to the bathtub for proper cleaning. A pet with dental issues, arthritic pains, obesity, bladder stones, and other medical problems, will have a hard time grooming on its own.
When that happens, rabbits need bottom washes, as traces of urine and waste may remain stuck in the fur there, causing further problems. Also, bear in mind to get a rabbit cage that allows your bunny to move around with ease for proper grooming. Sometimes, it might not be medical conditions to blame, but simply the lack of space for such activities.
Always consult your vet in regards to the afflictions affecting your rabbit. There may still be other methods than washing recommended, and you must know everything about them. Also, ask the vet about the best practices to follow when cleaning a rabbit; he or she can tell you more about what you should do.
How to bathe a bunny
Extreme caution and care are recommended for washing a bunny. First of all, enlist the help of a friend or a member of the family who will be in charge of keeping the rabbit down so that you can see about bathing it fast.
A good idea would be to have a rubber mat on the bottom of the bathtub so that the bunny doesn’t slip. As more attention is paid to reducing the bunny’s stress during the bathing, you will notice that it will not squirm as much and you’ll be able to finish quickly.
Ideally, you shouldn’t use a shower, as it can be noisy and a source of stress for the bunny. A jug of water may do a better job. Also, use water that is neither hot nor cold. Start from the bunny’s bottom and work your way toward the head. However, do not get water on the pet’s head, and especially make sure that shampoo doesn’t get in its eyes.
On many situations, you don’t need to wet the pet’s entire fur. Pay attention to getting the water to reach the skin and rinse thoroughly if you use shampoo. A rabbit’s coat can be a pain to dry, and, if you use a blow dryer, make sure to keep it at a reasonable distance from the bunny, to avoid stressing it unnecessarily.
You can also choose to bathe your rabbit in a sink, as water levels rising can be a source of extreme anxiety for your pet. But, if you use running water, the entire operation will be finished in no time. It is of the utmost importance that you do everything as fast as possible since rabbits can catch a cold easily.
When you use your hairdryer, pick a setting for warm air, not hot. Just as rabbits can have problems with cold, they don’t do well with overheating, either. Therefore, the operative advice would be to do everything fast and as efficient as possible.
Other types of grooming
To keep your pet bunny happy and clean, there may be other grooming operations involved. For instance, they sometimes need their toenails clipped. Runny eyes can be the sign of an infection, which is why you must use soft tissues to absorb the extra humidity. The use of a saline solution on the cheeks of your bunny can help the tears to crystalize; after that, they are much easier to wipe away.
To clean your bunny’s ears, you will need to use cotton swabs to remove the excess wax. That’s pretty much like taking care of a baby, and the same rules apply.
Bear in mind that some grooming is not in your power, and, for instance, if your bunny has crooked teeth, that’s something for the vet to take care of. Otherwise, make sure that your rabbit has enough wood to chew on so that it can file its teeth without any issues.