A part of every rabbit’s regular grooming routine is cleaning its ears. Your rabbit has to have clean ears because otherwise, it can suffer from ear infections, blockage or damage to the inner ear. As you may have noticed, rabbits have very prominent ears and it’s very easy for dust, dirt and other debris to settle in. If you overlook ear care then it won’t be long before your pet suffers from different health conditions related to the ear.
Cleaning rabbit ears
Rabbit ears require regular cleaning at least once every two weeks. Whether you have a young rabbit or an old and disabled rabbit, you must make it a habit to clean its ears. As with other pets, the sooner you train your pet to behave when cleaning its ear, the better. Early training also benefits your pet when it needs regular ear flushing to clear out debris and to treat an infection or inflammation.
Cleaning is done regularly and flushing is done mostly when applying medication or cleaning due to an ear infection. Here’s how ear cleaning is done.
Things you’ll need
- Long-stemmed cotton swabs
- Wax remover
- LED light
- Saline solution (optional)
- Paper towels
- Make your rabbit comfortable
Before you start poking into your pet’s ear, make your pet comfortable. Place it on a table with a soft liner or towel so it will feel comfortable and secure. You can place food in front of the rabbit so it will eat and feel relaxed as you check its ears. You may also have someone hold it but not too tightly; offer pats, long strokes and constant praises to your pet. Once it feels comfortable and secure, you may now start the activity.
- Grab the ear gently
Some rabbits have large and long ears while some have short ears. When cleaning a rabbit’s ears, long-eared ones have the advantage because it’s easier to hold the ear back and clean it. But of course, smaller ears mean that you don’t need to clean the outer fold too much. But whether your pet has small or humungous ears, learn to hold it properly that your pet won’t feel hurt or uncomfortable. You may also hold your pet against you so you can better visualize the structures in the ear.
- Use the swab to clean the outer ear
Use a cotton swab, the longer ones, the better. The swab must reach the middle ear or the weird structures that you see when you peer inside.
Be cautious when you clean the ear because just like us, rabbits have very sensitive ears. Any incorrect movements can lead to damage to the structures in the ear. Use a soft movement to pick dirt and debris and a soft sweeping movement out the ear to get rid of the dirt. Do not roll, poke or press on the inside structures of the ear.
- Go deeper with another swab
Depending on how dirty the ear is, get another swab and clean it further. Remove all the debris that you see and change the swab as often as you want to.
- Use the LED lamp to illuminate the ear
An LED lamp (the one you wear on your forehead for camping or hiking) is a good idea. You may also use a handheld option but have someone hold this for you as you move in the ear more efficiently. Be careful not to startle your pet when using an LED lamp. You should never shine it on its eyes. You may use an ear wax remover with an LED lamp attached at the end. This has a small scoop that will allow you to scoop the wax and remove it gently from the ear.
- Use a saline solution to remove tough debris or buildup
Dirt may settle inside the ear and can be hard to remove. Remember, you can’t tap the wax or scrape it because it can only hurt your pet’s ears.
The saline solution inside the ear is applied gently. Just a few drops inside the ear will do. Leave the solution inside the ear for a few minutes and then use another clean swab to remove wax that has broken from the hardened wax.
Your pet may not be too happy with liquid inside its ear so you need to do this fast. Otherwise, it may start to move and it’s going to be more difficult to keep it’s steady.
You may need to repeat the saline solution until all the buildup wax has softened and its easier to remove. This is why you need to ensure that your pet is very comfortable and won’t budge as this is being done.
- Use paper towels to clean up
Cleaning your pet rabbit’s ears is a messy thing to do and this is why you must have paper towels handy. Wipe the long cotton swabs on these towels. Use these to wipe any remaining liquid in your rabbit’s ear. Use paper towels to clean the tip of an ear wax remover. Discard the paper towels properly.
- Clean the outer ear
Sometimes cleaning the outer ear of your pet is a lot easier than its inner ear especially with those with very long and thick ears. To clean this part, use a damp cloth. Just like you would do to spot clean your rabbit’s fur, spot cleans the inside and outside part of your pet’s ears. Do this carefully and follow up with a dry cloth or paper towels.
- Repeat this regularly
Now that you have successfully cleaned your pet’s ears, you must repeat this at least every other week. But there are some situations when you need to clean your pet’s ears ASAP. If your pet has played in the dirt, in mud or the rain or if your pet has an ear infection. And when your pet has been diagnosed with an infection, you may need to clean its ear and flush it with medication.
Flushing rabbit ears
Usually, a vet may prescribe your pet medication to deal with an ear infection. Medications may be administered orally or as a form of an ear flushing solution. It’s your job to administer ear medicines regularly and to make sure that this is done properly to treat the infection completely.
When flushing your pet’s ears, you must do this carefully. Assume the same position when your pet is on the table.
- Hold your pet and make sure that it is relaxed
Flushing a pet’s ear is more stressful to rabbits than using only a cotton bud or applicator. The feeling of something gooey or a liquid in the ear is something weird for them (also to humans!). Expect that your pet may resist and may even bite you if this is too much for them so as much as possible, train your pet to take cleaning and flushing regularly.
- Clean your pet’s ears first
Your vet will suggest that your pet’s ears must be cleaned very well first before you administer any medication. This will ensure that the medication reaches the part of the ear that needs to be treated and not just wasted on the unaffected parts of the ear.
- Arrange the things you will use, including the medication, nearby
It’s going to be a tough ride so all the things you need must be nearby. The medication, saline solution, a small syringe, cotton tip applicators, and paper towels must be accessible.
- Grab the affected ear carefully
Hold the affected ear carefully. Make sure that you don’t squeeze too hard because this is a diseased ear. Any wrong movements may worsen your pet’s situation.
- Use an LED lamp
In instilling ear medication, use an LED lamp so you can place the medication inside the ear carefully and properly. The LED lamp will also guide you on where not to place the medication. Most ear flushing medications are in liquid form and will have to wet the affected area completely so an LED lamp can guide you incorrectly placing the liquid and keeping it in.
- Instill the medication in the middle ear
It’s time to instill the medication. Do this quickly and afterward, don’t let the head of your pet move. Moving will only cause the liquid to move elsewhere.
- Hold your pet still for a while
Let your pet remain in the position for a short while. You must reassure it by holding, patting, calming and stroking your pet. After the designated waiting time, remove any extra liquid.
- Remove extra fluid
The best way to remove any extra liquid is to tilt your pet’s head the other way. But because the ear has many hollow structures and formations, the liquid can easily move towards these and become dislodged. So to remove liquid easily, use suction or a long syringe. You may also use a ball suction to remove the extra liquid.
- Use long swabs to remove remaining fluid
Despite removing all the liquid inside the ear, use long swabs to remove any extra. Move-in a rolling manner, but make sure to avoid tapping or pressing into the deep areas of the ear because doing so may damage the middle and inner ear.
- Dry the ear with swabs and use paper towels
Drag dirt and liquid out of the ear. Have paper towels ready to remove these and to clean any other messes.
- Repeat this according to your prescription
Repeat this according to your vet. This medication is usually given once or twice a day, daily for a week or depending on the prescription of your vet.
Ear flushing for emergencies
In emergencies, like a foreign body inside your pet’s ear, you need clean and flush it to remove it. Vet’s also flush rabbits’ ears to clean them and also for medical emergencies.
Rabbits may unintentionally get things inside its ears like mud, soil, pebbles, and even food. And the only way to get rid of this is by getting inside its ear and flushing the material away.
You might think, how will this happen as the liquid may only take the material to the inner parts of the ear? If you can remove the thing with a tweezer then do so. But if you can’t remove the material with a tweezer or it simply disintegrates when you press it then you should flush it.
Just like how you flush ear medications to your pet’s ear, instill the flushing solution inside the ear. Use sodium chloride solution to dislodge the material from the ear and use a cotton applicator to remove extra fluid. Use a syringe or a ball syringe to remove all small debris.
You may also tilt your pet’s head to the side to drain the liquid and the remaining material that has been dislodged in the ear.
Ear flushing may also be done by your vet as a part of his cleaning routine. It may also be done by groomers especially to rabbits that will be part of a contest, show or pageant. The rabbit’s ears are usually checked during these activities and there is a minus point if the ears are dirty or have debris inside.
Ear cleaning and flushing are just two things
Aside from cleaning and flushing your pet’s ears, you must also consider other things when grooming your pet. One, brush and maintain your pet’s teeth. Rabbit teeth tend to grow throughout its life and this has to be maintained by frequently chewing hay and by giving your pet chew toys. Your pet may also need to see the dentist in case its teeth have overgrown.
You must also cut or file its nails and clean them accordingly. You must also remove any stains on your pet’s eyes using a special cleaning solution. Finally, it needs frequent brushing too like a dog to remove falling hair and to encourage soft and stunning hair or fur. You may ask a groomer to help you clean or groom your pet.