Rabbits are extremely clean animals and require sanitary living conditions at all times. You will notice that your pet rabbit spends a lot of time grooming and cleaning itself using its paws, teeth and tongue. This is often more than enough for your rabbit to stay and generally speaking you don’t need to bathe your bunny.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this and your vet may occasionally advise you to clean your rabbit. But this should be done with extreme caution and only as directed. When rabbits get wet, there is a very serious risk of them dying so you should never take this lightly.
In this guide, we will show you how to wash a bunny as well as giving you plenty of advice on when, how, and why you might need to do this. To be the best bunny owner you can be, always follow your vet’s recommendations.
Yes. You can wash a bunny but that doesn’t mean that you should do it as a regular part of their care. Rabbits are very efficient at keeping themselves clean and there is really no reason for their humans to help them with this unless they are unable to do it themselves.
What’s more, it could be harmful to your rabbit to bathe him or her when it isn’t absolutely necessary. There are many problems that could arise when washing a rabbit especially when using products such as shampoo.
For example, some of these things will strip the rabbit’s fur of its natural oils. Washing your rabbit too much will eventually lead to a decrease in the quality of its coat. While this isn’t necessarily dangerous, it’s not something you’d want either.
Moreover, rabbits are very timid animals and will naturally fear situations that make them feel threatened. They’re prey animals after all, it’s in their very nature to be cautious. Putting a rabbit under stress, such as by bathing it, can lead to death at the very worst.
With all that said, there’s absolutely no harm in grooming your rabbit using a suitable brush. Not only will this help to keep their coat in good condition and remove any excess hair when they moult, it’s an excellent bonding activity that is sure to bring you and your bun closer together.
If you primarily need to clean your rabbit’s feet, then read this article.
Rabbits have very thick, dense fur that takes a very long time to dry and this is the main reason that it could be fatal to allow a rabbit to get wet. In the wild, you’d very rarely see a rabbit voluntarily entering a body of water. Perhaps the only time this would happen would be if the rabbit was under threat and had absolutely no other way out. Other than that, they like to stay dry.
Rabbits have such a thick coat to keep them warm but when the rabbit’s fur gets wet, it is no longer able to do this as efficiently. Imagine this was in the wild and it isn’t difficult to understand how the rabbit would quickly freeze to death. But even in captivity, wet fur is a problem and if the rabbit isn’t kept warm until it dries, it spells trouble.
Even something as unassuming as a slight draft through the door or a window that isn’t properly sealed could be enough to make your rabbit extremely uncomfortable at best or very sick at worst.
Not only can your rabbit catch a potentially fatal chill from being wet, he or she could also be faced with other health problems. It’s not uncommon for bunnies to become more susceptible to respiratory infections when they are left wet for long periods of time. Snuffles is one of the most common and can be incredibly dangerous.
When a rabbit gets snuffles, it might sound cute but it’s anything but. Snuffles is a bacterial infection that can cause labored breathing and other symptoms that you might commonly see in a human with the common cold. However, for rabbits, if left untreated, snuffles can cause death. According to Rabbit Welfare, it is recommend that you take your pet to see a vet as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Mouth breathing
- Mucus around the nose and eyes
- Dirty front paws (due to wiping the eyes)
Rabbits that are allowed to get wet may also suffer from problems relating to stress. Furthermore, if your rabbit has a weakened immune system it is far more likely that they will become ill so it’s always best to avoid them getting wet.
There may be times that your vet advises you to bathe your rabbit. This could be due to health reasons or if the rabbit is so soiled that it is unable to clean itself. What we are about to provide you with are instructions on how to clean a rabbit in general. However, if your vet has given you specific instructions, you should always adhere to these above all else.
Where possible, you should bathe your rabbit with another person. There is an extremely high chance that your rabbit will become very skittish and will try to run away during the process. With two pairs of hands, this is less likely. While you’ll need to get a firm hold of your pet, it’s important to be gentle as these animals are incredibly delicate.
It’s a good idea to bathe your rabbit in either the sink or bathtub where you can safely place them during the clean. We’d recommend using an anti-slip mat to provide your bunny with some grip which will also prevent them from getting overly stressed.
Make sure that you test the water temperature BEFORE immersing your rabbit in it and if you are running water during the process, consistently test it to make sure that there are no temperature fluctuations. The last thing you want is to scald your rabbit or torment him with ice cold water.
While a shower head will typically give you more consistency where temperature is concerned, the noise of this can be alarming to your rabbit. Another option is to use a jug which is quieter and less stressful but does come with the hassle of having to monitor the temperature each time you fill it.
When you’re ready and prepared, you’ll need to get your rabbit wet. We’d recommend starting at his rear end and moving up until you reach the head. Stop here. There is no need to wet your rabbit’s head. In some cases, your vet may advise you to do this but otherwise, it’s totally unnecessary.
If you are using soap or shampoo make sure that it is one designed specifically for animals and that it doesn’t contain any chemicals that may be harmful to your bun. When it comes to rinsing, be extremely careful not to allow any soap into your rabbit’s eyes or mouth.
Try to make your way through the bathing session as quickly as possible without upsetting your rabbit. When you are done, remove your rabbit from the water and pop them into a warm, dry towel. It’s also worth keeping in mind that rabbit fur takes a long time to dry and this part of cleaning your pet may take longer than the bathing itself.
Towel drying your rabbit will remove most of the excess moisture from his or her fur but be sure to be as gentle as possible to avoid damaging your rabbit’s delicate skin. It may also be possible to use a hairdryer but this should be on the coolest setting and only done for short periods of time.
If your rabbit normally lives outdoors, it is essential to keep them inside for one night to make sure that they are thoroughly dry. In very cold weather, you may need to keep them indoors for slightly longer.
Bathing your rabbit is also a good time to check for fleas. Look for fleas themselves, or the telltale flea dirt in your rabbit’s fur.
Rabbits do not need to be bathed by their owners. Just like cats, they will spend a good portion of their day cleaning themselves using their tongue and paws. However, there may be times that your rabbit needs a little help so your vet may suggest bathing your pet.
It’s essential to follow your vet’s instructions and make sure that you don’t keep your rabbit in the water any longer than necessary. More importantly, you must ensure that your rabbit dries thoroughly before allowing it back outdoors as a wet rabbit is prone to freezing, snuffles, and other health problems.
Related: Rabbit Pulling Out Fur