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Similar to cats, rabbits are self-cleaning creatures. As a result, the experience of bathing can be a stressful condition. In normal settings, bunnies tend to avoid getting drenched in water. Consequently, these creatures tend to panic when in water thereby leading to injuries.
However, that does not mean that you should not engage in proper grooming practices to keep your bunny safe from infections and smelling nice.
Can you bathe a rabbit?
Whereas it is possible to bathe a rabbit, routine bathing is generally discouraged. Routine bathing is unnecessary and can prove harmful to the creature. They are clean animals and groom themselves. It is possible to see companion groom each other.
Frequent bathing of the bunny can prove hazardous. First, bathing can strip the animals of its natural oils thereby paving the way for skin problems. Secondly, rabbits do not respond well to stress. The bathing experience is stressful for the animal. This stress can lead to problems such as the creature getting into a state of shock.
There are instances where it would be necessary to bathe a rabbit. These occasions include:
- When there are underlying medical conditions: For instance, neurological or spinal problems that make it difficult for the bunny to clean itself. Also, dental problems, weight gain, bladder stones are but some of the medical conditions that may impede the rabbit’s ability to clean itself. It is advisable to consult a vet so as to determine which medical condition is affecting it.
- Veterinary recommendation: Occasionally, the vet may recommend giving the bunny a bath. This may be the case if the bunny has a skin condition. In this case, you will be required to use a medicated shampoo designed for bunnies.
- When the bunny is muddy, dirty, or has fecal matter.
Steps to follow when bathing it
Spot bathing is the most recommended approach to cleaning a rabbit. This entails cleaning the dirty areas such as the feet, behind the ears, or the scut using warm water and a clean cloth.
You can dry the wet areas using a dryer. Place the dryer at least 12 inches from the rabbit’s body. Make sure the dryer is on low to medium heat to avoid over-drying. Alternatively, you can towel dry. Gently rub the hair of the rabbit with a clean towel to remove the excess water. If you opt to use the towel, then you need to be gentle as its skin tears easily.
If your vet recommends bathing the bunny, then you can proceed using a bowl with warm water, and rabbit shampoo. You can do this procedure alone or with a friend. One person can keep a firm hold of the bunny while the other cleans it. It is advisable to have a non-slip rubber mat or towel beneath the sink/bowl/bath. The rabbit needs to grip the mat or towel so that they do not panic.
Using a jug, start wetting the hair from the rump making your way forward. Lather the shampoo gently and rinse it off thoroughly, making sure you avoid the ears and eyes. You can opt bathing it in the sink or a bathtub so that the water drains out.
The bunny may be uncomfortable sitting in too much water. Wash also the back-end by gently turning your rabbit. Bathing should take the shortest time possible. After that, gently lift the bunny using a towel. You can use a hand dryer or towel to dry it.
There are different breeds of rabbits. Short-coated breeds generally have an easy time self-grooming. On the other hand, long-haired rabbit breeds such as the Angora may require some assistance in self-grooming.
Also, rabbits with any medical or skin condition may require help in self-grooming. Grooming is a great time to check the rabbit for infection. Check the eyes for any discharge, or runny eyes. Check the ears for any discoloration. You can use a cotton swab to remove wax from the outer canal. Do not attempt to put the cotton swab too deep as it may lead to complications. Lastly, check the teeth for crooked, or overgrown teeth. Check the toenails. You can trim the bunny’s toenails. However, you will need to be careful not to cut them too short.
Bunny grooming supplies you need
The rabbit grooming supplies you need include:
- A flea comb: Recommended in case your bunny has fleas. Thoroughly comb the rabbit and dip the comb in alcohol or warm soapy water to remove the fleas.
- Styptic pencil and toenail clippers to trim the bunny’s toenails.
- Medium or soft-bristled brush
- Cotton Swabs
- Grooming Glove
Unlike wild one, pet rabbits do not get the chance to wear out their over-grown toenails. As a result, you might need to trim the nails yourself. To do this, you might need a flashlight to be able to identify the vein beneath the dark toenail. Clip the nail above the vein or quick as it is commonly called.
Avoid cutting the quick as it may cause pain. This is why you need the flashlight as some species toenails can be very dark. If you accidentally cut the quick, use styptic powder to help stop the bleeding. Alternatively, you can opt to use a nail file to reduce the size of the nails.
Brush your bunny’s fur using a medium, or soft-bristled brush. Remember to apply gentle strokes as the bunny’s skin can tear easily.
Shop for a hypoallergenic, non-medicated shampoo to clean your bunny. Opt for a dry shampoo like Kaytee Quick & Clean Critter Dry Shampoo. Other good ones to buy include Squeaky Clean Critter is another great Kaytee shampoo, Arm & Hammer Tearless Shampoo and Deodorizing Spray for Small Animals, Odie and Cody Natural Dog Shampoo among others.
However, do not attempt to use any human shampoo, including baby shampoo as it may affect the rabbit. Rather, the shampoo should be soap-free, gentle, and suitable for conditioning and cleaning your pet’s skin.
If your rabbit appears stressed about the bathing, then stop the process.