Rabbits are naturally curious and active animals. They’d hop from one place to another without minding if they’re stepping on dirt or mud. It’s no wonder why their feet often get dirty. In this article, we’ll show you how to clean your rabbit’s feet so they can continue their adventures without any problems.
Getting to Know a Rabbit’s Feet
A rabbit has five toes each on its front paws. On the other hand, they have four long and webbed toes for each of their hind feet. They use their strong hind legs for jumping and hopping.
Unlike other mammals, bunnies do not have paw pads. Their feet were made for durability and strength and not for speed. Their delicate feet have a thick layer of fur to protect and cushion them from rough surfaces.
Having dense hair growth on their feet makes them a magnet for dirt and urine stains. Some breeds with short and thin fur surrounding their feet are more prone to pododermatitis, a standard feet health issue. They also have sharp claws that you can find underneath their fluffy hair.
It is essential to learn about the features and structure of your rabbit’s feet, so you’ll know if there’s something wrong with them. It’s also crucial to understand its structure, so you’ll learn how to clean and take care of this essential body part.
What makes rabbit feet dirty?
The following are reasons why a bunny’s feet get dirty:
- Soil and Debris: If your rabbit lives or plays outside, then for sure, it spends most of the time exploring the yard. It may hop on the soil, grass, or mud. Debris and dirt may stick to their feet, and it might take some time before you discover it.
- Urine: Some bunnies like to linger inside their litter box after peeing, so their feet’s fur soaks up the urine. When it happens, their feet will have unsightly yellow stains. Unneutered male rabbits or bucks spray their urine to show dominance over other rabbits. They would sometimes unknowingly spray some urine on their feet.
- Illness or Old Age: Old and sick rabbits may have difficulty cleaning themselves, so their feet remain dirty even after many days. Bunnies are strict about their hygiene, so neglecting to cleanse their body parts is unusual.
- Dirty Cages or Hutches: Failing to clean a rabbit’s shelter regularly can make their feet dirty. It may also lead to other health issues.
How to Clean a Rabbit’s Feet
After your bunny has played outside, you may want to immediately wipe its feet with baby wipes. Addressing the dirt at once will prevent stains from building up.
Rabbits hate baths, so refrain from getting them wet as much as possible. In extreme cases, bunnies can get traumatized when people give them baths, and it may lead to depression and heart ailments.
For deep-seated dirt, a dry bath is recommended. It means cleaning your pet without using water.
- Step One: Lay the rabbit down, belly-up, on your lap. It is the ideal position to access its fur and feet. Hold it gently so it will not feel threatened. Placing a pillow or a blanket underneath your pet can make it feel more comfortable. Makes sure that your bunny trusts you before you do this step. Do not let anyone unfamiliar with the rabbit clean its feet. Like, many prey animals, bunnies dislike this position. It makes them feel vulnerable and afraid. You can reassure them by speaking softly and stroking its fur. Situations like these bring out the importance of bonding with your bunny. It’s vital to win their trust so that when you need to groom them, they’ll gladly oblige.
- Step Two: Sprinkle some baby cornstarch powder on the dirty part of its feet. This powder is usually available in drugstores or baby supply stores. Rub the powder carefully on its feet and thoroughly work it in the soiled area. The powder can effectively absorb stains and remove the urine smell. If the fur has absorbed the stains, you may try spreading the cornstarch using a pet comb. Please do this step gently since the rabbit’s skin is extra-sensitive. If it gets hurt during the cleaning process, it may not trust you the next time.
- Step Three: If you see that the bunny’s feet are already clean, wipe the excess powder with baby wipes or a clean cloth. If there are still stains, sprinkle more powder and use a comb to massage the cornstarch on its feet.
What are other tips for cleaning a rabbit’s feet?
If using cornstarch powder does not eradicate the stain, there are other things you can do to clean your rabbit’s feet.
- Tip #1: Create a paste using white vinegar and cornstarch. Spread it on the soiled area of the bunny’s feet and let it dry. When you’re sure, it’s already dry, brush its feet to remove excess powder.
- Tip # 2: Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 250 ml of white vinegar. Add a few drops of lemon or orange essential oil to help remove the ammonia-like odor of the urine. Then, place the solution in a small spray bottle. Next, spray the mixture on your rabbit’s dirty feet and rub them gently. Please wait for the mixture to dry before wiping its feet with a clean cloth.
- Tip # 3: Squeeze one lemon and place the juice in a small spray bottle. Allow the bunny to groom itself.
- Tip # 4: Mix equal parts witch hazel and hydrogen peroxide. Use a soft cloth to apply the solution to the rabbit’s feet. Make sure you don’t apply too much since it can cause damage to your bunny’s fur.
- Tip # 5: Trim your bunny’s nails. If your rabbit’s nails are not too long, it will not scratch the soil as much as before. Sometimes the act of scraping dirt and mud makes the stains worse. Bunnies usually scratch to trim their nails since it never stops growing naturally. It’s up to the owner to maintain the ideal nail length. It would be best to ask a veterinarian or a veterinary grooming technician to do the trimming for you. It’s quite a delicate task that’s best left to experts. If you think you can do it yourself, ask a vet to teach this grooming task to you before attempting to cut their nails. If you feel you can already do it yourself, please make sure that you do not cut beyond the pink part of the nails. This area has blood vessels, and cutting them will b very painful and traumatic for your bunny.
Are yellow stains on your rabbit’s feet a cause for alarm?
Rabbits’ feet are prone to dirt and stains due to their adventurous and active nature. However, when their feet turn yellow, it becomes a cause for concern. There’s nothing to worry about if the stain can be removed using the tips mentioned above.
However, when the feet’ underside is not only yellow but also matted, moist, and smells terrible, your bunny may have an underlying problem that you need to address.
What are the causes for yellow-stained feet?
- Urinary Issues: When a rabbit has urinary conditions, it usually urinates clumsily or more frequently. Urinary problems include bladder infections, urinary tract infections, urolithiasis, or other kidney problems. It would be the best move to bring your pet to the veterinarian at the first sign of urinary issues.
- Urine Scalding: When you let urinary issues persist, they might lead to another health issue: urine scalding. This condition makes your bunny’s hind legs sore, red, and painful. Its fur may become damp and smelly. If left untreated, it may lead to flystrike or other severe health issues.
- Poor Living Conditions: If your rabbit’s shelter is too small, it will be challenging for them to groom themselves. If the bunny can’t clean its fur, it will become dirty, yellow, and smelly. If the urine is not cleaned at once, your rabbit will step on its waste constantly, which can also lead to yellow-stained feet.
- Fighting with Other Rabbits: Unneutered bucks usually start spraying their urine on other weaker bucks. This situation becomes worse when these two aggressive creatures share a small space. Some male bunnies will hide inside a litter box to prevent further fights or trouble.
How to Prevent Yellow-Stained Feet
- Train your rabbit not to linger in their litter box. It may take a while and a lot of patience from you before your pet can learn this behavior, but it will be worth it.
- Neuter male rabbits so they won’t be spraying their urine on their male companions.
- Ensure that you give them an abundant supply of fresh, clean water to prevent urinary issues.
- Ensure that they have a big enough shelter for them to move around and groom themselves.
Having a pet rabbit may be fun, but it is a huge responsibility. One of the things you need to consider is maintaining their health and overall hygiene. Now that you’re confident that you know how to clean a rabbit’s feet, you’ll have peace of mind knowing they’ll be healthy and safe.