Compared to other domestic pets such as cats and dogs, rabbits have different ways to be clean. In this step-by-step guide, we will teach you the proper and safe way how to bathe a rabbit.
How to Bathe a Rabbit?
Rabbits should not be bathed the way common house pets like dogs and cats are. They are susceptible to temperature changes, so submerging them in water is not good.
The sudden drop or high temperature can cause a shock to the rabbit, resulting in hypothermia, heart attack, or stroke.
Many might think that because rabbits do not submerge in water even in the wild, they are prone to dirt. This idea could not be further from the truth. Rabbits are relatively clean animals as they regularly groom and lick their fur akin to cats.
There are many ways to keep rabbits smelling good and spotless with minimal water use, such as:
Regularly grooming rabbits with a fine-toothed comb will help avoid matted fur and dirt clinging to their coat.
Dry bath works by introducing a powdered formula such as sand, dry shampoo, or baking soda. This cleaning method is for small domestic animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits, as they are susceptible to an adverse reaction to water.
Spot cleaning is done using an animal-safe shampoo or rubbing alcohol and towel or napkins. Spot cleaning is reserved if the rabbit has an unremovable stain or foreign materials such as mud and hardened dirt clinging to their fur and skin.
Cleaning the Genital and Anal Region
Even though rabbits can mostly clean for their genital and anal region, there are various reasons they cannot, such as poor health or incontinence and diarrhea.
These health problems can lead to bodily fluids such as feces and urine sticking in their fur. Owners can safely remove the rabbit waste without getting the rabbit in a dangerous bath by using minimal water.
If you have no idea how to, read further below, and we will guide you with these different methods to clean a rabbit.
Method 1: Regular Grooming
Regularly grooming your rabbit can help keep them clean, especially if they rarely go out and play in the yard. Regular grooming can also keep them from having fleas and matted fur.
When grooming your rabbit, make sure that you use a fine-toothed comb such as a flea comb designed for rabbits. The fine teeth will ensure that the teeth of the comb will get in between the fine fur of the rabbit.
How often you groom and comb your rabbit is entirely up to their size and breed. Some breeds with long thick fur, such as Angoras or Flemish, need more, while others, such as Sable and English rabbits, need to be groomed occasionally.
Try to comb your rabbit’s fur every other day as a rule of thumb. Be sure to do it outside to keep your furnishing and floor free from rabbit hair.
Method 2: Dry Bath
A dry bath is a method of cleaning using a dry shampoo formula or baking soda. It works for rabbits by using a fine-toothed comb and letting the dead fur, dirt buildup, and fleas be scraped off. This method is perfect for baby rabbits and relatively clean rabbits.
Things to have in a dry bath:
- Dry Shampoo or Baking Soda
- Fine-toothed Comd (Rabbit Comb)
To do a dry bath, you need to:
- Get a dry shampoo formula or baking soda and gently sprinkle it on the rabbit.
- Using a fine-toothed comb, gently comb through the fur. Ensure that the comb you are using is made explicitly for rabbits, as the ones designed for cats and dogs tend to have wider gaps between the fur. Combs made for rabbits have finer teeth resulting in cleaner skin.
- Gently work through the coat section by section. Rabbit fur can be dense, so it’s better to section the hair to ensure the inner layers of the coat is also clean.
- Repeat the process until the rabbit is thoroughly clean.
Having a dry bath every once a month is very beneficial to rabbits. Since most of their dead fur is gone, it will lower the risk for wool blocks.
Owners can also do this method to eliminate mud stains without water. However, it might be more complicated if the mud has stuck to the fur.
This is the only way to bathe a baby rabbit or kit safely. Submerging young rabbits to drastic changes in temperature to water is extremely dangerous and may result in hypothermia and, ultimately, death.
Your rabbit will come clean and smell fresh with dry baths even without water. It’s also a very safe and relaxing process for rabbits.
Spot cleaning is for stains and tough foreign material clinging to the rabbit’s fur. The dirt and stains can come from many things such as mud from playing outside or from foods such as raspberries. To do spot cleaning, you will need:
- Rabbit-Safe Shampoo or Rubbing Alcohol
- Clean Towel
- Lukewarm Water
- Fine-toothed comb
- Hair Dryer
Here are the steps to do spot cleaning:
- Soak the clean towel with lukewarm water. Ensure that the water is not too hot or too cold to lower the distress to rabbits.
- Remove as much water as you can from the towel.
- Put a small amount of rabbit-safe shampoo or a small amount of rubbing alcohol on the towel. If you prefer the rabbit shampoo, lather it up before using it. Keep the amount to a minimum to easily remove the shampoo later.
- Gently run the lathered towel on the rabbit’s fur. If the stain or foreign material is mainly set deep in their coat, you can use a fine-toothed comb to comb the mud or stains gently. Repeat using the towel to clean the rabbit until there is no dirt or stain.
- Rinsed out the lathered shampoo on the towel using the lukewarm water and wring it dry.
- Run it through the rabbit’s fur again with the damp towel to remove the shampoo residue.
- Then dry out the rabbit with a towel. The towel should not be completely soaked, just damp, so drying the rabbits can be quick. You can either use a towel or a hairdryer.
This method uses a small amount of water and shampoo to soften and break down the stain and dirt for easier cleanup.
To ensure that the rabbit is safe throughout the process, make sure that the towel is just damp and not dripping with water. Using lukewarm water will also make the rabbit more comfortable.
Cleaning the Genital and Anal Region
Most rabbits are fully capable of cleaning themselves and their genital and anal region. With that said, various medical conditions such as diarrhea, incontinence, or fever might be why they cannot reach and clean their rear end.
The diseases can lead to the debris of feces and pee sticking in the rabbit’s fur. The dirt can make the rabbit have infections and spread viruses or parasites through their feet and legs.
If that’s the case, here is the thing you need:
- Small Tub or Sink
- Rabbit-Safe Soap
- Clean Towel
- Hair Dryer
- Lukewarm Water
Here are the steps to clean the rear of your rabbit:
- Place a clean towel in the tub or sink. Make sure that the tub is not too small for the rabbit.
- Once the towel is placed, pour lukewarm water into the tub. The water should be around an inch deep. To avoid rabbit shock, minimal water should only touch the genital and anal area.
- Place the rabbit inside the tub. The rabbit might thrash around, so it’s better if you have a companion with you. One person holds the rabbit down while the other is cleaning the rabbit.
- Gently clean the rabbit’s soiled area with rabbit-safe shampoo and lukewarm water. Continue to do so until the debris of dirt is removed.
- Then, the drying process should start. The rabbit might be thrashing as most have an adverse reaction to water. You can wrap the rabbit in a clean towel and push it to your chest to comfort it and keep it from injuring itself.
- You can also use a hairdryer to dry the coat and skin completely other than the towel. However, the most rabbit does not like the sound of the appliance. You can bribe them with treats to keep them in place.
This method should be done as a last resort and not as a primary way of cleaning your rabbit. It poses many risks for injuries, especially when done by new and inexperienced rabbit owners.
In conclusion to this article on how to bathe rabbits, you have four ways to keep your rabbit clean and smelling fresh: regular grooming, dry baths, spot-cleaning, and cleaning of genital and anal glands. Follow the steps to ensure that your rabbits have a safe and proper cleaning.