Rabbits Are Self-Grooming
Your rabbit cleans themselves much the way cats do. If you sit quietly and watch, you will see your pet lick their paws and then use them to keep themself clean. It is important that you take your cue from nature when you are tempted to give your rabbit a nice bubbly bath and blow dry their fur. Rabbits in the wild don't bathe in streams or hang out in the rain, and this is for their own preservation.
The Dangers of Water for Rabbits
Because they are not used to water, rabbits may panic when submerged. This panic can lead to a heart attack or thrashing, resulting in broken bones. Wet rabbits are also in danger of hypothermia, as their fur takes a long time to dry. They might develop dangerous skin conditions, as their skin is also very sensitive. Like humans, water trapped in their ears can lead to ear infections.
This doesn't mean you can't help keep your rabbit clean and healthy. There are situations, such as an accumulation of stool on their bottoms, that do warrant spot cleaning your rabbit. Rabbits can't reach this area, and you may notice them becoming uncomfortable as the stool accumulates. With dry ingredients or as little water as possible, you can help your rabbit stay clean, healthy, and happy in these situations.
For the reasons mentioned above, you should try to avoid submerging your rabbit in water. Try using baby corn starch first to remove any stool stuck to your rabbit's fur. Rub it gently into the affected area and wipe it with a clean, soft cloth to remove as much as possible. You can also use a small brush but be extra careful not to touch your rabbit's skin or to yank on her fur. This could cause your rabbit to panic.
If the dry method doesn't do the trick, clean the affected area with as little water as possible. You can use a pet shampoo, but make sure it is approved for rabbits, and never use shampoo intended for humans or dogs. Ideally, hold your rabbit and do this without using a tub. If possible, get a friend or family member who your rabbit is comfortable with to hold her while you do the cleaning.
If there is no alternative, submerge your rabbit in as little water as possible, and change the water frequently. The water should be warm, so the cold doesn't shock your rabbit into a panic, but not hot. Be sure to dry your rabbit as much as possible with a soft towel or cloth to avoid further problems.
Grooming Your Rabbit
Proper grooming can help prevent your rabbit from developing dirty areas that require your intervention. Rabbits molt two or three times each year. During these times, you can help by gently brushing your rabbit to help get rid of excess fur. This has the additional benefit of helping to prevent dangerous hairballs. For longer-haired rabbits, you can also trim in areas such as their bottoms that they cannot reach themselves. Be very careful when trimming to avoid cutting your rabbit's sensitive skin.
Keeping your rabbit's cage clean will also help keep them happy and healthy. The best approach is to do some cleaning every day to avoid a buildup of things that can get stuck to them, or otherwise harm your rabbit's health. Spot clean any messes and put down fresh hay. Remove any foods that your rabbit hasn't eaten, and if you are using a litter box, scoop it every day. At least once a week, take out all their toys and give them a good scrubbing. Clean and replace the bedding and give their cage a good wipe down with a rabbit-safe cleaner.
Healthy Eating Also Promotes Cleanliness
Since normal bathing is not a good option, prevention is key. One of the best ways to help keep your rabbit clean is a healthy diet. If your rabbit eats poorly, they are more likely to develop soft or runny stool that leads to a dirty, matted bottom. Luckily, you no longer need to search high and low for a store that sells proper rabbit food. Order farm fresh hay shipped straight to your door from RabbitHoleHay.com and keep your small pet happy and healthy.