Rabbits experience a “molt” 3 to 4 times a year, which is where old hair is rapidly replaced by new hair. As rabbits groom themselves, they can swallow a lot of extra fur. Brushing can reduce the amount of hair taken in and can also give you and your rabbit some quality bonding time!
- When brushing your rabbit, use a soft brush, such as a one uses for a cats or a flea comb. Because rabbits have sensitive skin, soft brushes are best. As you brush, use light pressure in the direction the fur grows to ensure you can get the shedding fur out but aren’t applying so much pressure that you irritate the skin. Avoid using ‘furminator’ type brushes as they pull out the hair, which is painful.
- During molting periods your rabbit may be brushed a couple of times a day. Your rabbit will continue to shed even during non-molting periods but at a much slower rate. During regular shedding periods brush your rabbit once a week.
- Make brushing a pleasant time, keep it short and offer special treats or even some of the regular diet including fresh foods during and after grooming. If you keep grooming until the bunny is anxious to leave, it will be more difficult to get cooperation next time! Better to have a few short grooming sessions of 3 minutes a few days a week than a long 10 minute session that is not enjoyed! Your bunny will LOVE to be groomed if you make it fun!
Rabbit brushes/combs (www.freewebs.com/blackhurstrabbits/grooming.htm)
Rabbit nail trimmers (http://bunnyapproved.com)
- Your rabbit’s nails should be trimmed every 6 – 8 weeks.
- Use a pair of scissor-type nail clippers such as those used for cats.
- For a rabbit with light colored nails, look for the quick (the red area of the nail that contains blood and nerves) and trim before reaching that point. It is more difficult to see the quick in black nails. With all rabbits it is a good idea to apply pressure as if you are going to trim the nail but don’t cut. You should do this twice before cutting the nail. If you are too close to the quick, the rabbit will pull his foot back and you can move the position of the clippers and no harm was done. If he doesn’t flinch, you can cut the nail safely. Having good lighting where you are working is very helpful!
- If you cut too close and there is bleeding, you can use Kwik Stop to help stop the bleeding. You can also dip the nail in some flour or cornstarch or just apply pressure to the nail with a cotton ball.
- Offer a treat after nail clipping as with brushing to make it more pleasant and work in short sessions – you don’t have to get all the nails at once.
- Not everyone is comfortable clipping nails and usually your veterinarian will provide nail clipping as a service to you if you would prefer not to do them yourself.
Dos and Don’ts of Rabbit Grooming
- DO look over your rabbit at least once a week by looking at the eyes, ears, hair, skin and nails. Lift him/her up allowing the back feet to stay on the ground and take a peek underneath as well! Notice any lumps or bumps anywhere on the body.
- DO brush your rabbit on a regular basis, more so when moulting. Long-haired rabbits will need more frequent brushing than short-haired breeds – for expert advice on fur maintenance, talk with your rabbit-savvy veterinarian.
- DO brush in the direction of the coat and use light pressure
- DO keep grooming procedures pleasant by making the rabbit comfortable on a non-skid surface, offering favorite foods during and after and keeping the sessions very short.
- DO trim your rabbit’s nails or take him/her to the veterinarian for a nail trim every 6 – 8 weeks.
- DO check for fleas or mites and if they are present consult with your veterinarian on appropriate treatment for the rabbit and his/her environment. Just treating the rabbit will not be sufficient. Revolution (kitten strength) is a rabbit safe anti-parasitic topical medication that can be used to kill parasites and is available from your veterinarian. Do not use over the counter flea products as they can harm your rabbit.
- DO visit your rabbit-knowledgeable veterinarian at least once a year for a general wellness examination. Since rabbits are very good at hiding illnesses, these checkups can help uncover disease that might be present at an early stage, as well as catching you up with any new developments in preventive rabbit health care.
- DON’T give your rabbit a bath. A bath can be stressful to a rabbit and they can become dangerously chilled from being wet. Rabbits clean/groom themselves frequently and do not need to be bathed routinely. For information on how to bath a rabbit that has a dirty bottom see Bathing a Rabbit’s Messy Bottom.
- DON’T clean your rabbit’s ears – they will clean most of the ear wax out themselves by using their feet and shaking their heads. Putting Q-tips in the ears can pack the wax in further and potentially damage the ear drum or lead to an ear infection.
- DON’T use ‘furminator’ type brushes that pull the hair out when grooming your rabbit. This can be painful for the rabbit.
courtesy of http://home.adelphi.edu/~tw17718/care.html