Rabbits are exceptional pets – not only are they adorable and cuddly, but they are also not too challenging to take care of.
One necessary thing if you have one as a pet is nail clipping. This task can be intimidating for beginner bunny owners, but keep reading, and you will feel like an expert by the end of the article.
How To Cut Rabbit’s Nails In Only 6 Steps
Rabbits in the wild don’t need their nails cut because they naturally wear them down through activities such as digging and running around.
Unfortunately, home bunnies don’t have a natural opportunity to do this because of the different conditions and environment, so it’s necessary to cut their nails regularly.
Cutting a rabbit’s nails is not a simple process. Even if your bunny is ordinarily calm, this activity can make them squirmy and restless, especially if they were hurt during this process in the past. To ensure everything goes smoothly, follow the next steps.
1. Prepare Everything You Will Need
You should prepare a few things before you clip your rabbit’s nails. The most important one is a clipper for rabbits or cats. It’s crucial to use a specialized clipper because they are more sharp, precise, and efficient than the ones we humans use.
It will make the entire process quicker and easier. Next, ensure that you have a couple of sterile gauze pads in case you accidentally trim your rabbit’s nails too short and they bleed.
The gauze will help stop the bleeding. Besides that, you should have some antibiotic cream or powder ready to treat the injury. Finally, treats are equally important! Have your rabbit’s favorite treats prepared to encourage them positively, so this process becomes easier for them.
2. Find Someone To Help You
If possible, try to find someone willing to help you cut your rabbit’s nails. It will be easier for you and less stressful for your bunny. This person can be a family member, friend, or anyone else you trust and is available for half an hour to hold your pet.
Mention that it is not a difficult task and they will have nothing to worry about. Of course, it’s best if your bunny knows this person well, but if not, they can spend some time playing or cuddling until your rabbit feels comfortable around them.
3. Prepare Your Bunny
Now that you have all the needed equipment and your helper, you can prepare your rabbit for what’s about to come. As mentioned, this activity is usually stressful for them.
Some ways you can ease your pet into it are a massage, some tasty treats, a new toy, or just playing or cuddling with them for some time. If they feel calm and relaxed, they are more likely to go through the nail clipping easily.
4. Put Rabbit Into Position
Once you have prepared the material, found the helper, and put your pet into a good mood, it’s time to start the main part of the process. You will want to place the rabbit into a comfortable position for them that will also allow you to access their nails easily.
It’s good if the person you asked for help can hold them gently from the back. This way, you can easily reach both their front and back legs.
If your bunny loves belly rubs, that’s amazing – make sure that the person holding them rubs them and cuddles them so the bunny can get distracted more easily.
If you notice your pet wiggling and trying to escape, the person holding them needs to be gentle. Bunnies are delicate – a tight hug can break their bones.
If your bunny becomes too tricky to handle, let them rest for ten or fifteen minutes before continuing. If they have an enjoyable experience, they are more likely to be calmer when you clip their nails next time.
If it’s impossible to hold your bunny from the back, you can first lay them down in a sprawl position and cut the nails on their front legs. Next, cover them with their favorite blanket or a towel in something like a burrito wrap.
They can’t wiggle too much this way, but they won’t be uncomfortable. Then, wrap a blanket around their front legs and the upper part of their body, excluding the back legs. When you have done this, clip the nails on their back legs.
5. Clipping The Rabbit’s Nails
When you figure out which position is the most comfortable and the least distressing for your bunny, you can cut their nails. The most important thing you need to know is that rabbits have a nerve and a vein that goes through each nail.
This place is also called a quick. You should avoid it by all means – it can be painful if you cut it, and there will be some bleeding in case that happens.
The quick is visible as a red or pink part in lighter nails but may be difficult to locate in darker nails; therefore, you should proceed with caution to avoid cutting into it. You should cut just above that area, towards the end of the nail.
Put your clippers around the nail and quickly clip the nail when you’re sure that your pet is calm. Don’t hesitate, because one swift move is all it takes!
6. Give Your Bunny Treats
Don’t forget to treat your bunny! I can’t stress how important this step is – it will help them associate nail clipping with something positive rather than with something stressful.
You can give them some of their favorite food after each nail or at the end when all is done. Closely inspect your rabbit’s behavior towards the entire process and listen to their needs and boundaries if they get too restless.
Let them hop around for a few minutes before continuing and ensure they are not too stressed out.
What If You Cut Your Rabbit’s Nails Too Short?
If you accidentally cut your rabbit’s nail too short, don’t panic; it’s okay. Instead, you need to take a sterile gauze pad and gently press on the bleeding part. Wait for a few minutes until the bleeding stops, and sterilize the injury with antibiotic cream.
It’s normal to feel uneasy about causing pain to your pet, but there is no need to worry. The bleeding and the pain will subside in a few minutes – it is the same as when you cut your nail too short.
Your rabbit can get mad, though. They may get irritated, but it will also pass soon – just give them some treats and be kind to them.
If you cut a quick and you still have some nails to clip, consider not continuing right away. Give your bunny some time to calm down and wait for their pain and bleeding to stop until proceeding.
If you notice your pet is not in the mood for nail clipping anymore, just wait for another day before clipping the rest of the nails.
Why Should You Clip Rabbit’s Nails?
You may wonder why you need to cut your rabbit’s nails. This is because they never stop growing, just like human nails. Rabbits’ nails are very hard – wild species need them for digging and walking on harsh surfaces, like rocks.
Pet bunnies don’t need them at all. In fact, they may cause a lot of problems. If the nails grow too long, a bunny needs to change the position of its feet to move around.
This is unnatural – imagine having to walk in shoes that are two numbers down compared to your standard size. Sure, it is not the same, but you get the idea – it can be painful for your little pet.
Another thing that can happen is your rabbit hopping and causing enough friction for its whole nail to fall off at once. This can also be painful and may take some time to heal properly.
These are all unnecessary complications because trimming rabbit nails gets easier every time, both for you and your pet.
How Often Should You Clip Rabbit’s Nails?
The frequency of clipping your rabbit’s nails depends on you and your pet. Some rabbits’ nails will grow more quickly, some rabbits have backyards where they can wear off their nails, and some rabbits’ nails grow more slowly.
You should check the length every week or two, and if you notice the nails are getting longer, clip them. Trim them only a little if you do it twice or more every month.
If your rabbit is afraid of nail clipping, you can do it once per month or two, as long as its nails don’t get too long and stand in the way of normal functioning.
Rabbits need to have their nails clipped to avoid potential complications of their nails being too long.
You should be kind and patient with your pet and provide them with delicious treats to make that experience more pleasant than it would be otherwise. If you are unsure about how to clip your rabbit’s nails properly, do not hesitate to consult a veterinarian for guidance.