When I first got my rabbit, I had lots of questions regarding her nutrition, social life, and grooming.
And the one question that stood out to my vet was if I should bathe her every day as I take mine. Anyone who’s been around bunnies for a while will find this absurd.
But if you’re new to the rabbit care community like I was, I understand when you ask the same question. Should I bathe my rabbit? If so, how do I do it?
Well, bathing a bunny is different from your normal bath. So, if you need answers to these questions, it’s my pleasure to guide you on how to bathe your rabbit.
And I’ll also give you other tips related to bathing rabbits.
Let’s get started already!
Is it OK to Bathe a Rabbit?
It’s not, especially if you’re talking about immersing her in water. However, there are instances (like in the next subtopic) when you’ll need to clean her up.
And even in such instances, cleaning a rabbit should be done differently and with caution. Those familiar with rabbit care know that rabbits don’t relish getting wet.
While you might think you’re doing her a favor by bathing her in water, you’re actually causing havoc. To start with, rabbits naturally clean themselves, so they rarely need human intervention in cleaning.
They groom by licking themselves, so at no point do they like coming into contact with water. Their bodies are not designed to be in water; that’s why they tend to panic if given a wet bath.
Rabbits are prey animals, so they dislike feeling vulnerable. And because they aren’t made to be in the water, giving them wet baths makes them feel vulnerable, hence the panic.
In such situations, she will try to get out and may end up hurting herself. Even worse, if all her efforts prove futile, she gets stressed, which is not good for her health.
Assuming you manage to clean her in a wet bath, her fur will clump up and take ages to dry. With wet hair, your rabbit is prone to hypothermia and respiratory infections.
So you see, wet baths are not suitable for rabbits, and since they do a good job of keeping themselves clean, why subject them to stress?
When You May Need to Bathe Your Bunny
As I said, in some instances, you may need to bathe your rabbit. But even so, don’t wet the whole rabbit. Also, seek your vet’s advice on how to go about it, especially the products to use, since rabbits are sensitive to most chemicals on the market.
Some instances when you may need to clean your bunny include:
- If she clags her back with urine or caecotrophs or both.
- If infested with fleas,
- When it’s overweight and can’t reach her bum and other hidden parts when grooming.
- If she has dental issues, which make it hard to groom.
- If suffering from an illness like arthritis or a spinal injury, the pain makes it hard to groom.
You will notice that in most cases, something (like weight or sickness) prevents the rabbit from grooming. Even in such instances, they will clean most of their body parts and leave the rear ends as they can be hard to reach.
Again, a rabbit won’t just clag her bum with urine or caecotrophs unless she is unwell at the moment. And even if she does, she will groom up immediately if she can. So if you notice frequent flags in her bum, maybe it’s time to pay more attention as she might be unwell.
Another thing that may interfere with your bunny’s grooming habits is insufficient space. She might have trouble keeping up with her hygiene if she lives in a confined space with no room to stretch. Try keeping her in a spacious area and see if she grooms better.
Also, if you leave your bunny in the rain or a muddy garden, she might get some mud stuck in her fur. This may be tough to clean on her own, especially after it dries out. She will need your help cleaning up the spot.
How to Bathe a Rabbit
If your vet instructs you to bathe your rabbit for medical reasons, follow these steps to do it correctly without subjecting your bunny to stress.
Step 1: If you can, get a second person to hold the pet while you clean her up. It will make it easier and more comfortable for your rabbit. Make sure your hands are clean before starting the process.
Step 2: The person holding the pet should do it gently and firmly. Not too tight to cause panic, but still firm enough to avoid slipping. In addition, ensure your pet is comfortable; she will be relaxed and calm if she is comfortable.
Step 3: Get a sizable litter box and place a mat or towel on the bottom. You can also use a sink to do this. The towel or mat helps with gripping to avoid scrabbling.
Step 4: If you are giving her a bum bath, put warm water in the litter box and swish water around the bum area, allowing dry poop on the skin to loosen up. Don’t try to loosen the dry poop with your hands; it may come off with skin, and you can imagine the pain.
Again, the only area that should be getting water is the bum, so hold her up such that only the bum is close and not sitting in the water. Though I said you get a second person to help, bum baths are better done single-handedly for ease, as one hand will be holding the bunny while the other works on the behind.
But if you’re cleaning a different body part, you’ll need to spot clean.
Ways to bathe a rabbit: Spot cleaning
The same way you spot clean a couch by focusing on the dirty area, you can do this with your bunny. Unless a rabbit is in excruciating pain, she will try to groom the parts she can reach. So for the few remaining parts, spot clean using warm water and a clean towel.
Wet the towel and use it to clean the dirty spot. The idea is to only introduce water to a spot that should be cleaned, so ensure your towel is not dripping, making the rabbit wet in parts that don’t need cleaning.
Spot cleaning is easier if you have an assistant to hold the bunny firmly but gently while you do the work.
Dry baths are the best, as they don’t involve water. In dry baths, you remove dirt that doesn’t need water. For example, if your bunny played in a dusty area with dry hay, she might get dusty in her hair from carrying some hay around.
Assuming she is overweight, it might be hard to groom, requiring you to dry bathe her. Get a fine-toothed comb, preferably one meant for bunnies, and use it to remove debris from her. They should come off with ease, so be gentle as you do it.
Make sure your pet is still and relaxed before you begin. If you do it correctly, she will still ask for more, as dry baths appear to most animals as petting.
When combing, slide the comb in the direction of your bunny’s hair, as going against it will make it come off.
A Guide to Drying Your Rabbit
Rabbit’s hair clumps up when wet, and drying it takes pretty long. That’s why you should avoid getting her wet if you can.
If you spot-clean her properly, she won’t be that wet. But if she gets wet and you need to dry her, use a soft towel to do the work.
Alternatively, use a hair dryer in a warm setting and do it gently. Keep checking on the heat to avoid burning your rabbit.
Allow your bunny to air dry after this, and keep her indoors in case it’s cold outside. With damp hair, it’s hard to keep warm, so ensure the temperature is friendly.
How Often Should You Bathe a Rabbit?
On normal occasions, you won’t need to bathe your rabbit at all. But if your bunny can’t keep up with her sanitation for different reasons, spot clean the area that needs cleaning.
This means you should only clean the part of her body that needs cleaning. And, of course, this is not a daily routine, so how often depends on how dirty she gets.
If you notice your rabbit has trouble grooming, keep her surroundings clean and deny her access to environments that may make her dirty, like the garden. It’s safer to keep her clean than to use water to clean her.
Unless you have to, never bathe your rabbit. And even if you must, immersing her in water shouldn’t be an option.
Try dry bathing or spot cleaning her to minimize her contact with water, as it causes more harm than good.
Also, only bathe your rabbit under a vet’s instructions and get help so you do it properly.