Rabbits are very clean animals and they groom themselves very well. They like to be tidy and only a clean rabbit is a happy rabbit. But in that case, does your rabbit need help with cleaning?
You might have seen some nice shampoo bottles in the local pet store with a rabbit picture on the label and you’ve asked yourself – if my bunny grooms himself, why this shampoo is sold. Well, because there are rare occasions when you need to bath your rabbit and you might even need a shampoo for that!
Why Is My Rabbit Not Cleaning Himself and Stay Dirty?
Rabbits can get dirty due to various reasons. There some rabbits that are pretty lazy so they sit in their own urine for some time. As a result, their fur becomes yellow and it is called urine stain fur. It looks messy, it is quite smelly and part of it the bunny will solve by himself but he might need your help to be clean again.
Maybe your bunny is obese and cannot reach certain parts and that is why you need to help him get rid of dirt and poop. In this case, a dirty rabbit is not the biggest issue. Obesity is a very serious condition and you need to help your rabbit lose some weight.
Hay should be his main food, reduce the amount of dry food( pellets) and dark green leafy vegetables. Be careful with fruits as they are rich in sugar so give him some safe fruit occasionally as a treat. Encourage your rabbit to exercise as much as possible.
Older rabbits with some medical issues ( such as arthritis ) also won’t be able to groom themselves as they used to in the past. As a result, we might see the fur that becomes matted with poop.
If the rabbit is injured his capacity for grooming is fairly reduced. You have to help him.
Rabbits that have diarrhea get messy easily and need your help to clean.
Usually, only the bottom part of the rabbit is soiled and the rabbit needs your extra assistance to keep this part clean as it should.
If you notice that your bunny is dirty all over and not just his bottom side then he has much bigger problem then being dirty. That could be a sign of some major health issue so seek a vet’s help.
How To Bath My Rabbit?
The way you choose to bath your bunny depends on the mess. If the mess is dry then you should use a wet cloth or water bath and if the mess is wet you can try with a dry bath which is more comfortable for bunnies.
Rabbit’s Butt Bath
As usually, the butt area is messy in rabbits, so if you find your rabbit’s butt, hind legs ( especially toes )and tail too dirty you can bath your rabbit.
If you are not sure how to do that, you can ask your vet to help you but it is quite simple and doesn’t take too longs ( around 15 min )
Before you decide to bath your pet, check if the wet washcloth alone would do the job. If yes, choose that rather then bath with water.
Prepare all necessary supplies :
- empty litter box or shallow tub
- water – lukewarm, not hot
- paper towels
- shampoo designed for rabbits
Take the clean and empty litter box or some kind shallow tub, put some thin towel to cover the bottom and pour some lukewarm water ( about 2 inches). It shouldn’t be too much water just to cover the bottom, towel and bit more.
Take the bunny, pet him a little bit to relax him and then put him in the tub. But the important thing is that only his badly soiled area should reach the water, not the whole body. Hold his upper part out of the water. Let his butt area soak in water. Take a small amount of shampoo and rub it in the messy part and wash it.
You don’t have to use shampoo, lukewarm water will do the work just fine. But if you are using it, after you finish, rinse the shampoo well.
Take out the bunny and wrap it in the soft towel. Dry the rabbit. You can use either towel or microfiber cloth or paper towel to dry the bunny.
To finish the drying process and make sure your bunny is not wet any more you can use a hair dryer.
Some people are against as bunnies could be afraid of the sound but you can try. It is important to use it at low speed and low heat. If you are not sure how your rabbit will react on the sound of a hairdryer, you can hold your rabbit and turn on the hairdryer pointing somewhere else and not in the rabbit.
Talk to your rabbit as your voice can calm him down. When you think that your rabbit is relaxed you can start drying him. Make sure you don’t hold the dryer too close to avoid any rabbit’s skin damage. Seek for any wet spot and dry it. It is essential to dry thoroughly your rabbit after the bath.
Using a hairdryer has another plus. Besides you will dry your rabbit, it will keep him warm as well and he needs that after taking a bath.
Rabbit’s Dry Bath
Rabbits consider a dry bath as much more comfortable experience than a wet bath. So always try the dry bath first. A dry bath is a great way to clean the urine and poop stains.
You need a regular baby cornstarch powder which you can find in any supermarket. It is important to be both talc and perfume-free.
Follow these steps for dry bath :
- Place a rabbit, belly up. Make sure he is relaxed.
- Apply baby powder on the soiled spot
- Rub the powder in
- Use a flea comb to remove dry poop and other dirt from the fur
- Pat and brush the fur to remove the powder
- If necessary you can use the small hand-held vacuum to remove the rest of the powder.
How Can I Prevent Urine Stain Fur In My Rabbit?
We have shared the idea on how to remove the urine stain fur in your rabbit but how can you prevent that or to reduce it to a minimum
- After the spaying /neutering procedure, your bunny will spray urine much less and will stay in the litter box for a shorter period of time.
- Provide a spacious living place. If your bunny feels trapped in the small living space, where he doesn’t have room to play and do the self-cleaning, the consequences could be poor grooming habits and a lot of urine stain fur.
- If you try to encourage your rabbit to spend less time in the litter box, reward his positive behavior. Give him some treat when he leaves the litter box. Positive reinforcement can eliminate bad habits.
- Make sure your bunny has high quality and well-balanced diet.
- Take your rabbit to the vet on a regular basis ( once or twice a year) don’t wait for something to happen to go to the vet. Many health issues may be solved very easily and quickly if detected on time.
- Use highly absorbent litter for the litter box.
- Avoid wooden hutches as living space. Wood has great absorbent power so the whole rabbit’s house will have a bad pee smell.
- Clean and disinfect all rabbit’s belongings as well as the cage. Use white vinegar to kill odors.
Flea Bath for Rabbits
If you notice that your bunny is scratching and you have detected tiny brown droppings and insects in his fur, he has fleas.
Classical flea treatments are not safe for bunnies. Dips and powders that are used might be toxic to your rabbit so avoid them.
If your bunny doesn’t have a big problem with fleas you can use a fine flea comb. Comb your bunny’s fur to remove fleas, soak the comb in water with soap or alcohol to get rid of the fleas, rinse the comb and repeat the entire action.
If your bunny has more serious problems with fleas, ask your vet for advice. He will advise you about the rabbit safe flea treatment solution.
Don’t use flea treatments for dogs or cats as they can be very strong and harmful for your bunny. The experienced vet will know to determine the right dose as an incorrect dosage may harm or even kill your rabbit.
You will also get instructions from your vet on how to apply the solution. The usual spot is back and behind the ears, as a rabbit cannot reach to lick those spots.
If you have several rabbits in the house do examine them all and if you notice that all have fleas, of course, you need to treat them all but be aware of the fact that other bunny may lick the back of his cage mate and ingest the solution which can cause abdominal problems.
You should also avoid flea collars. They are hazards as the bunny can hurt himself trying to take it off but also the chemical dosage in those collars is too strong for bunnies.
To prevent fleas in your rabbit, you can use some flea sprays or you can apply boric acid to your carpet. Make sure you keep your bunny out of the treated area for at least 24 h.
What Are the Dangers of Giving Bath to Rabbit?
A wet bath is a pretty stressful experience for the rabbit. That is why you should never give a full-body bath to your bunny. This can cause such a big shock that a bunny can die from it.
Some signs of shock :
- A drop in body temperature
- Fast breathing
- Fast heartbeat
- Cold ears
- Pale gums
If you notice these signs, immediately wrap your bunny in soft towel and try to keep him warm. Dry your bunny thoroughly and comfort him as much as possible.
If the vet is close to your house you can stop by and let him check the rabbit but if the vet’s clinic is far away, don’t bother your bunny with long drive as it’s also very stressful for him. Rather call the vet and ask for advice.
Another danger is Hypothermia. Although rabbits have very thick fur which acts as a waterproof coat, if they get very wet then they can develop this life-threatening condition.
If your bunny has hypothermia then you might detect following signs :
- Weak heartbeat
- Cold ears and feet
- Pale ears and feet
- Heavy breathing
- As whole body is slowing down, the rabbit doesn’t respond to you
Hypothermia is an emergency and you need to see the vet instantly. But don’t wait until you reach the vet, try to normalize the rabbit’s body temperature as soon as possible.
- Cover the rabbit with a soft towel, trying to keep him warm.
- Place your bunny in the warmest part of your home
- If you have a heating pad, place a rabbit on it ( on the lowest setting), and if you don’t have to try with a hot water bottle ( pay attention not to put too hot or boiling water which would cause him burns.
- If your bunny can drink water, provide lukewarm water instead of the standard, cold one.
The rabbits can get injured during bath time. This can happen as bunnies can easily slip and fall. That is why it is important to place a towel on the bottom of the tub before you put a rabbit in it.
If they feel frightened as they are covered with water they will try to run away. During that the rabbits can injure themselves badly, even to break their own spine!
Skin rashes and irritations can also be caused by bathing. Rabbits do have very sensitive skin and water washes off the precious oils from the skin, leaving it unprotected and dry.
Another thing – the rabbit’s skin damages easier if it’s wet. Even a small cut can become a very painful wound.
Pay special attention to your rabbit’s nose and ears. Ears should never get wet as the rabbit can easily get an infection ( otitis ). The same is with the nose, if the water reaches his nose, he might experience respiratory problems.
Note that rabbits are prey animals and because of that they always hide that they are not feeling very well. So you have to observe them carefully, especially their eating /drinking habits, energy level, as well as potty habits and if you see any change, ask the vet for advice.
If you realize that your bunny is messy, especially his butt area, do help him. Your rabbit will appreciate your help as they really like to be clean.
Don’t bathe your bunny regularly, do it only if there is a need for that. Before you start cleaning your bunny do think about the reason why he cannot do it on his own. Maybe he has some health issue and lack of grooming habits is only a consequence of some illness or injury.
When you bathe your bunny, always bear in mind that a wet bath should be only a localized bath, don’t submerge your bunny into the water as that could be a very stressful experience for him.
Rabbits are simply not meant for water, they don’t enjoy being in the water and will try to escape if you put them in it. They can enter a state of shock and even die from it. Or they can break their own spine trying to run away.