How To Groom A Rabbit (Complete Brushing Guide)

How To Groom A Rabbit
How To Groom A Rabbit

It’s important to keep your rabbit clean and brush its fur on a frequent basis. You can spend valuable bonding time together and keep your rabbit healthy at the same time by just taking a few minutes to care for it every few days. It’s also important to spot clean any issues such as spilled food or muddy paws.

How do I groom my rabbit? Grooming your rabbit involves combing, brushing, wiping away debris and dirt, as well as periodically trimming nails and, in some breeds, fur.

Why Should I Groom My Rabbit?

Grooming your rabbit is important because it keeps your rabbit clean and happy. It can also be good bonding time between you and your rabbit. Keeping your rabbit clean is important to its overall health and helps prevent and identify fleas, ticks, and mites. Grooming is especially important while your rabbit is shedding to avoid discomfort and prevent matting from occurring due to a buildup of shed fur. Removing excess fur also greatly helps in preventing your rabbit from ingesting excess fur and developing hairballs that may cause intestinal blockages or GI stasis.

How Often Should I Groom My Rabbit?

You should groom your rabbit about twice a week under regular circumstances and daily during shedding periods, which happen about once every three months. These frequent grooming sessions will usually involve brushing your rabbit and gently wiping its underside clean of debris including particles of feces and urine. Nail clippings only need to happen every four to six weeks as needed, as some rabbits will maintain their nails themselves through scratching and digging.

How Long Should It Take to Groom My Rabbit?

Depending on how cooperative your rabbit is, grooming could take less than half an hour to get everything together and clean your rabbit thoroughly. However, if you have difficulties getting your rabbit to stay still, it could take much longer. Especially the first time that you groom your rabbit, you should set aside at least an hour to be safe and give yourself plenty of time to get your rabbit used to the process. Once you both have gotten used to it, you’ll know about how much time it will take to get everything done.

What Tools Should I Use to Groom My Rabbit?

You will need a variety of tools for the different tasks that grooming a rabbit involves. To brush the rabbit, you will need several different types of brushes and combs, especially during shedding times. You should have a wide toothed comb to pull out clumps of hair and a regular brush for normal brushing. You should also have nail clippers, cotton swabs for cleaning out your rabbit’s ears if necessary, and a paper towel or cloth to wipe down any debris on your rabbit’s underside. You can also bring disinfectant such as Chlorhexaderm in case of any cuts or scrapes and styptic powder such as Kwik Stop to stop bleeding from nails or other injuries.

What Kind of Brush Should I Use?

Rabbits have very sensitive skin, so it’s important to use a soft brush to groom your rabbit. Combs should be plastic rather than metal to avoid cutting your rabbit, or should have rubber tipped prongs. You can use a bristle brush or a rubber hand brush to follow up after removing fur with the comb. It’s beneficial to brush multiple times to make sure all of the excess fur is removed. Soft brushes are very important to avoid the risk of cutting or scratching your rabbit.

What Kind of Brushes are Bad for Rabbits?

Wire or metal brushes should not be used on rabbits, as they can cause injury to your rabbit’s skin. You should avoid rough brushes in general including wire brushes made for cats or dogs. In general, you’re better off not using brushes made for other animals or humans. Some products for horses are acceptable, but check the roughness of the brush before using it on your rabbit.

How Should I Brush My Rabbit?

Brushing your rabbit will take place in several stages that will systematically remove the extra fur from their coat. It’s important to go back over your rabbit and brush them repeatedly to get any fur that was left over from a previous stage. Start with a wide toothed comb and remove any large clumps of fur carefully by gently picking them out. Once the clumps are gone and you can run the wide toothed comb through your rabbit’s fur easily, you can switch to the brush to get the rest of the excess fur out. Run the brush along the length of your rabbit’s body, being very careful any sensitive spots including their face and paws. After the regular brush, you can even go back over their fur with a brush glove to be extra thorough.

What Parts of My Rabbit Should I Brush?

You should brush your rabbit’s entire body including its legs and underside. Be very careful in areas like the face and the ears and only brush very gently or spot brush where you see excess fur. On the underside, you should also be careful around the genital and anal area, which also includes the scent glands.

What if My Rabbit is Afraid of the Brush?

Don’t force your rabbit to be groomed, as this will form a negative association with the activity and cause your rabbit to resist the grooming, making your job much harder. Start out by introducing the brush as a stationary object by laying it on the floor where your rabbit can get as close or as far away as it wants. Once it ignores the brush, place a treat next to it so that your rabbit associates the brush with the treat. Then pick up the brush and hold it near your rabbit. If your rabbit stays calm, offer it another small treat. Go slowly until your rabbit is comfortable with you holding the brush, then try actually brushing your rabbit. Most rabbits enjoy grooming, and once it realizes what you are doing it will probably relax into the process and let you finish.

What Else Should I Do Besides Brush My Rabbit?

If your rabbit has any debris such as dust, food, or hay on its underside, or has feces or urine on its underside, you should wipe these off with a soft cloth. You can use a damp cloth if anything is dried on your rabbit, but you should avoid getting your rabbit wet as much as possible. Be gentle and careful around the genital area to avoid irritating your rabbit’s skin, and dry any wetness after you are done cleaning. You should also periodically trim your rabbit’s nails, and you may sometimes need to clean out your rabbit’s scent glands, especially if your rabbit is not spayed or neutered.

Should I Get My Rabbit Shaved?

Certain breeds of rabbits may need to be shaved in order to keep their coat from getting out of control. Breeds such as the Angora have coats that can get to three to four inches long and need to be trimmed to prevent matting and accumulation of dirt and debris. You may also need to spot shave your rabbit if it develops mats in its fur in order to remove the mats. However, rabbits with regular fur shouldn’t be shaved in the summer because their coats have already adapted by shedding and becoming thinner.

How Do I Shave My Rabbit?

In order to shave your rabbit, you will need a pair of clippers that are quiet and sharp. The loudness or quietness of the clippers is very important to avoid scaring your rabbit, which could cause shock in severe cases but at the very least will make your job more difficult because your rabbit will try to get away. It’s best to always use at least a 2 or 3 guard that will usually come with the clippers. You should be very careful while shaving your rabbit as it’s easy to cut its skin on accident. Leave any trimmed fur at least half an inch long to protect your rabbit from the sun and from being cut.

Should I Bathe My Rabbit?

You should never bathe your rabbit or immerse it in water. This can cause your rabbit to go into shock, which can result in death if the shock is severe enough. Rabbit fur is designed specifically to keep out water and keep the rabbit warm and dry. If water saturates the fur, it can cause the rabbit to become sick. You shouldn’t bathe your rabbit and if you need to use water to clean your rabbit you should use water in small amounts and not saturate the fur.

What Do I Do if My Rabbit Gets Dirty?

Rabbits groom themselves to a certain extent, but if they get particularly dirty or if they get something on them that is not safe for them to ingest, you will need to clean them yourself. If your rabbit gets dirty, you can clean the mess off of them with a cloth. If your rabbit gets dirt or other material under its fur, you can comb the debris out with a wide toothed comb and then wipe any surface material off. You can use a dry cloth or a damp cloth depending on how resistant the material is. You shouldn’t use soap and water on your rabbit, both because getting your rabbit wet is unsafe and because your rabbit may accidentally ingest the soap if you don’t clean it off properly.

How Do I Clean Urine or Feces Off My Rabbit?

You can clean urine and feces off of your rabbit by calming your rabbit down and then flipping it gently over onto its back so that you can reach the underside of its abdomen. Take a clean, damp cloth and wipe away anything you find. Be very gentle as the genital and anal areas are very sensitive. If your rabbit has significant amounts of urine or feces on it, especially if it has diarrhea, you may be dealing with a diet or incontinence issue and you should take your rabbit to the vet after cleaning it up. It’s also important to keep litter boxes and cages clean so that your rabbit is not standing or walking in its waste and therefore getting dirty.

Should I Clean My Rabbit’s Scent Glands?

Usually rabbit scent glands will not need to be cleaned, but every once in a while, a rabbit’s anal scent glands may get plugged up. The chin scent glands typically will not get clogged and do not need to be cleaned. The anal scent glands are most likely to get clogged on rabbits that are not spayed or neutered, as they typically have more aggressive marking habits than spayed and neutered rabbits and therefore have more active scent glands. However, even spayed and neutered rabbits can get clogged scent glands, including both male and female rabbits.

How Do I Clean Clogged Scent Glands?

You will need to first calm your rabbit as much as possible and get it comfortable. Once your rabbit is calm, gently flip it onto its back so you can reach the scent glands by the anus. You will be able to identify if the scent glands are clogged easily, as clogged scent glands will have a dark brown, gummy buildup on the glands by the genitals. Use a cloth or a q-tip to clean the dark buildup off of the glands. It may come out of the gland in a chunk. The buildup will have a pungent smell and it’s best to dispose of it outside rather than in the house.

Should I Trim My Rabbit’s Nails?

It’s necessary to trim most rabbits’ nails periodically, with some rabbits needing it more frequently than others. Typically, you will trim your rabbit’s nails about once a month to once every month and a half, depending on how much your rabbit digs and scratches. Digging and scratching are a natural way for your rabbit to grind down its nails, but this won’t always keep them short enough to avoid issues. When rabbit nails get too long, it can become difficult for the rabbit to walk on slick surfaces such as hardwood, and nails can get snagged or broken and cause injury.

How Do I Trim a Rabbit’s Nails?

Trimming a rabbit’s nails can be difficult, as rabbits may be resistant to the process and it’s possible to hurt them by cutting the quick. Keeping your rabbit’s nails cut short regularly is important because it keeps the quick from growing into the nail and increasing the risk of injury. To trim your rabbit’s nails, you can use a pair of nail clippers or a nail grinder if you can find one that is quiet. Clippers may be a better option for skittish rabbits, as nail grinders create a loud noise. Calm your rabbit down as much as possible and then wrap it in a towel. Pull out one paw and use a flashlight to view where the quick ends. You should cut just beyond the quick but not touching it, as this will cause your rabbit pain and cause it to bleed. If you accidentally cut the quick, you can use a styptic powder such as Kwik Stop to stop the bleeding.

Should I Trim My Rabbit’s Teeth?

Under most circumstances, you don’t need to trim your rabbit’s teeth. Rabbit teeth grow continuously, but by chewing on hay and grass (as well as toys) throughout the day, rabbits grind their teeth down to an acceptable level so that the teeth meet neatly at their ends. However, some rabbits may have a condition called malocclusion, which means that their teeth are not aligned properly and will overgrow. This can be caused by injury or sometimes by genetics. If this happens, you or a trained professional will need to trim your rabbit’s teeth every four to six weeks.

How Do I Trim My Rabbit’s Teeth?

Trimming your rabbit’s teeth must be done very carefully, as there is a high risk of injuring the tooth by cracking or splitting it. You shouldn’t attempt to trim your rabbit’s teeth at home unless you have been shown how to do so by a trained professional. If you need to trim your rabbit’s teeth, you will need a pair of very sharp wire cutters, a towel, and some treats. Use the treats to calm your rabbit down and then wrap it tightly in the towel. Hold your rabbit’s mouth open and wrap the wire cutters around the tooth to cut it. You should cut off the tooth in small increments until it is a suitable length to meet the other teeth properly. This will only work for front teeth; back teeth need special equipment used by trained professionals.

Should I Clean My Rabbit’s Ears?

You can clean the outside of your rabbit’s ears when you clean the rest of its body by brushing the fur gently to remove debris and loose hairs. You may not need to clean the inside of your rabbit’s ears frequently, but you should check your rabbit’s ears each time you groom it to make sure your rabbit doesn’t have any kind of infection or ear mites. Cleaning your rabbit’s ears when there is normal buildup of ear wax can help your rabbit hear and will make it more comfortable by removing uncomfortable debris and buildup. You may also need to clean your rabbit’s ears, sometimes with a special solution, after your rabbit has gotten an infection or ear mites and is being treated.

How Do I Clean a Rabbit’s Ears?

It’s safest to only clean the outer ear, and if you see buildup, dark ear wax, or dark debris any further inside the ear, you should contact your vet. To clean normal buildup in the outer ear, get a cotton swab and gently remove any ear wax you see. Be very careful not to push the ear wax further into the ear. Don’t use a q-tip to get further inside the ear, as you risk doing damage to the inner ear hairs or ear drum. If you see dark debris in the outer ear that does not look like ear wax, this is a symptom of ear mites and you should contact your vet. To remove this debris, get a cloth with warm water and place it over the debris to soften it. Do not try to remove the debris until it comes off with no resistance, as you could damage your rabbit’s skin by forcing it off. Dispose of this debris outside as it could contain mites or mite eggs.

Should I Brush My Rabbit’s Teeth?

Rabbits typically maintain their own teeth through chewing continuously on hay and grass and grinding them down. This also cleans the teeth as the fiber rubs up against the surface of the teeth and keeps them clean. As long as your rabbit has unlimited access to grass or a grass hay such as timothy hay, it will clean its own teeth through eating properly. However, if your rabbit’s diet consists mostly of pellets or fruit, it’s likely to develop dental issues such as overgrown teeth or abscesses. There isn’t a good way to brush your rabbit’s teeth, so you’re not able to prevent these problems through brushing. Your best option is the proper diet.

Should I Clean My Rabbit’s Eyes?

Depending on your rabbit’s eye condition, you may or may not need to clean its eyes on a regular basis. Most rabbits should have fairly clean eyes that will not need to be cleaned, but in some situations you may need to clean mucus or debris out of your rabbit’s eyes. If your rabbit normally has clean eyes but begins to show signs of wet or crusty eyes, take your rabbit to the vet as this could be a sign of an eye infection or dental issues. A vet may also give you eye drops to care for your rabbit’s eyes, which you would use at the time of cleaning.

How Do I Clean a Rabbit’s Eyes?

To clean your rabbit’s eyes you will need a warm, damp cloth as well as a dry cloth. If your rabbit has crust or buildup around its eyes, use the damp cloth to gently wipe away the buildup. Do not try to remove it forcefully, for example with your fingers or tweezers, as this can remove fur or cause damage to the sensitive area around the eye. Instead, press the cloth to the area to soften the crust until it wipes away easily. If your rabbit’s eyes are watering, wipe away the wetness with a dry cloth. If your rabbit appears to have dry or irritated eyes, you can use pet eye drops such as the ones made for dogs. Double check to make sure the brand you pick is safe before putting it in your rabbit’s eyes.

Does Grooming Prevent Fleas and Mites?

One of the biggest factors in consistently grooming your rabbit is paying attention to what is going on and catching early warning signs of disease. Grooming, along with keeping your rabbit’s environment clean and limiting interaction with unfamiliar animals, can greatly reduce the risk of fleas and mites. You should also treat your rabbit for fleas regularly with rabbit-safe flea medications. Dog and cat flea medications are both poisonous to rabbits, so check with an online prescription service or your vet for medications made specifically for rabbits.  You should also check your rabbit’s ears each time you groom it, which will alert you early if there are warning signs of mites and allow you to treat them before they become a problem.

Does Grooming Prevent Flystrike?

Grooming frequently and additionally as needed is the primary way to prevent flystrike. Flystrike is a condition that comes from a buildup of wetness, feces, urine, or gland fluids in the fur. This attracts flies, which lay eggs in the rabbit’s fur and skin. When these eggs hatch, the maggots burrow into the rabbit and the rabbit usually dies. However, if you are cleaning your rabbit every few days and wiping off any debris or wetness whenever you see it, you will eliminate the risk of flystrike. Be aware of any dirty spots or habits that your rabbit has so that you can clean them up immediately.

Related Questions

Do rabbits groom themselves? Yes, rabbits will groom themselves on a daily basis to remove any dirt or excess fur on their coats. They will also groom their bonded partner, and a mother will groom her babies while they are still too young to do so themselves.

Can rabbits get hairballs? Yes, and they are very dangerous to the rabbit. Hairballs can stop the digestive system in its tracks or cause blockages in the intestines. If this is left untreated, it can cause the rabbit to die.