As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your rabbit clean, whether they live indoors or in a cage. According to the Seattle Animal Shelter, rabbits are naturally clean and groom themselves by licking their fur.
However, owning a pet comes with extra cleaning duties to prevent the spread of germs and parasites that can pose a risk to both you and your pet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that some animals are germ carriers, and their fur can trap potential pathogens.
Therefore, in this article, we will guide you through the process of cleaning your rabbit to ensure that they stay healthy and free from germs. If you’re interested in learning more about these essential care tips, please keep reading.
Rabbits Groom Themselves
Like humans, rabbits have the instinct to clean themself. It is a natural behavior for every species. But rabbit’s way of cleaning differs from humans. If they think their fur is dirty, they will try to lick it. If they have a companion inside the cage, both rabbits lick each other. For example, you can see them licking the face of their mate.
However, one risk of licking for rabbits is hairballs. Although this often happens in cats because of their grooming habit, it can also happen to rabbits. Hairball is a condition with entangled fur stock inside the stomach. It causes minimal disruption in their digestive system.
You also need to remember that there are times when they can become quite messy.
According to Animal Welfare Victoria, rabbits are considered sociable animals because they are good companions. Rabbits do not like being alone and prefer to be in a group. Isolation in them causes distress, and it sometimes leads to problems.
Since the rabbit lives in a group, playing is inevitable. Especially if you let your rabbit wander outside their cage, they will jump from one place to another. They will play and run everywhere. Sometimes they will also eat some of your house plants.
Advantages of Grooming the Rabbit
Prevent Rabbit from Common Diseases
One important role of grooming animals is keeping them away from diseases. Once you own a rabbit, you don’t want them to be sick. Instead, you want them to be happy and live a healthy life.
Even if your rabbit is cleaning itself, there are occasions when bacteria infect its body. So they need intervention from their owner. However, if your rabbit is already sick, never self-diagnose them. Always ask your trusted vet for the right treatment to help them recover.
Prevent Humans Catching Diseases
Aside from your pet avoiding disease, you also get the same benefit. Since you and the rabbit live in the same household, they can transmit it to you if they are germ carriers.
According to the CDC, more than 6 diseases from animals are transmissible to humans. It can spread through direct or indirect contact. Cleaning your pet should become one of your priorities to avoid the risk.
Common Risk of Not Grooming Rabbits
One of the common consequences of not grooming your rabbit is having matted hair. Matting causes discomfort in rabbits. Since it is an entangled hair that forms due to bad fur conditions, it irritates your pet. It can also be a trapped surface for germs and bacteria. As an owner, these are some things you want to avoid in your pet because it can risk their health.
Cuts and Injuries
Part of the grooming basics in rabbits is trimming their nails. Like other pets, your rabbit will constantly scratch their skin if something is itchy. But if the nail is too long, cuts and injuries can occur.
Finding a cut in rabbits can be hard because their fur can hide them. You must thoroughly check every part of their body to ensure they are not hiding any underlying injuries. This will also help you provide treatment immediately, preventing further risks from happening.
Fleas and Mites Infestation
Indoor rabbits can also get fleas or mite infestation. An outsider carrying a mite inside the house can transmit it to the captive pets.
One of the common mite infestations is ear mites. It brings discomfort and irritation in rabbits because mites feed on the skin and suck their blood. In the worse case, it can affect the nervous system of your rabbit when the mites go deeper inside its ear. But you can prevent all of these problems if you maintain the grooming habit of your pet.
Grooming Tips for Rabbits
Groom Your Pet Regularly
You must build the habit of grooming your rabbit regularly. This will also help your pet to be familiar with different grooming activities. It’s better if you can start while your rabbit is young.
When you are forcing them, sometimes it will only distress the rabbit. They will lose their appetite and sometimes prefer to be alone because of the bad experience from grooming. A regular groom will assist your pet’s cleanliness and contribute to their overall health.
Trim Your Pet’s Nail
It’s also important that you give attention to the toenail of your rabbit. Rip-off nails are one of the common problems in rabbits. It can happen if the nail is too long and not trimmed. Since rabbits love to jump from places, accidents can result in rip-off nails. A long nail can also cut your rabbit skin if they are scratching it.
Do not use a regular nail cutter when clipping the toenails. Instead, use pet clipping. Moreover, they also know how to properly trim their nails. The toenail of your rabbit has a nerve ending on the edge of its nail. If you overcut, it will bleed and be painful for your pet.
Wipe Your Rabbit’s Eye
Observe and watch out for runny eyes and secretion. If left in there, it sometimes irritates your rabbit’s eye. Rabbit has a different eye function than other animals. Their eyeballs are placed on each side of their head, so their vision in front is not that good.
This is also the reason why they are prone to some eye problems. To prevent your rabbit from having complications, wipe its eyes regularly. When wiping, use a clean cloth and warm water. Gently pat the side of their eyes and dry it with another side of the cloth.
Clean Your Rabbit’s Ear
Like other pet animals, rabbits are also prone to ear mites. This problem is caused by a small anthropoid that infests their ears. They are often itchy and painful if not treated early.
The ears are an important body part of the rabbit. They use it to hear things and avoid danger, especially in the wild. That is why cleaning the rabbit ear is essential.
To do this, you can use a pet cotton swab and gently clean the outer side of their ear. Do not force your pet to do this activity. Ensure they are calm first, so it will imprint that cleaning their ears is a good experience.
Sanitize Your Pet’s Shelter
Aside from cleaning your rabbit, cleaning their shelter is also essential. Since your rabbit will spend most of their time inside the cage, it probably gets dirty. Their cage can also be a living surface for common germs and bacteria.
Parasites like Encephalitozoon Cuniculi and mites can infect your rabbit and live in its cage for a long time. When sanitizing their cage, remember to include their bedding and litter box. You must change the bedding once in a while to avoid growing bacteria.
You can clean their cage using a pet bacteria eliminator. There are many products available that you can buy in the market. But ensure that you choose quality and non-toxic ingredients.
Spray the eliminator in its cage and leave it for about 10 minutes, then wash it with clean water. If the instruction says it’s non-washable, you can just leave it there for minutes and bring your pet back inside the cage.
You can also use vinegar and baking soda as a natural cleaning detergent. This article claims vinegar and baking soda are good for cleaning. Many humans also use this product when cleaning parts of houses.
- Pour a gradual amount of vinegar and baking soda inside the cage of your animals.
- Leave it for about 15 minutes, then wash it with clean water.
- Let it dry first before bringing your rabbit back into its cage.
Find Out More About Rabbit Care in This Article:The Ultimate Guide to Taking Care of Rabbits
Common Tools You Need In Grooming
Brushing your rabbit fur is an essential part of grooming. According to the House Rabbit Society, you must brush your pet twice or thrice weekly. This will help prevent matted hair in rabbits. You can also remove some debris and dirt hiding under their fur. Here are the different types of brushes that you can use in your rabbits;
- Rabbit Brush Mitt– intended to slip over your fingers like a glove made of polymer. Using this is easier because you can brush them with your hands. Some shedding hair comes off with a few strokes using this brush.
- Mat Splitting Comb– this grooming comb is necessary to hold a long-coated strain of rabbit fur. The comb has precisely separated, double-edged teeth that can remove any twisted, snarled sections of hair. That is why using mild, entangled hair on your pet is best.
- Rabbit Shedding Comb– a comb that you can regularly use with rabbits. Rabbit shedding brushes are excellent at extracting loose hair or shaded fur.
You must also pay attention to nails because overgrown nails cause injuries in rabbits. Sometimes they can self-inflict a cut by scratching themselves. There are also times when injuries happen due to fighting.
To prevent this from happening, cut the nails of your pet. When trimming a rabbit nail, you must carefully cut the edges because of nerve endings.
A person’s hair dryer isn’t invented for application on your rabbits because it is built for fast blow-drying activities on human hair. Instead, there are pet blowers available in the market. They are specifically made to assist in drying the fur of your rabbit. It is also at the right amount of temperature that does not harm your pet’s skin condition.
- Cleaning your rabbit is important. It is also part of your responsibility as an owner to ensure they are properly groomed.
- My House Rabbit article stated that rabbits are naturally clean. They often groom themself, especially if they think they are dirty.
- If you own more than two rabbits and they share the same cage, you can notice that they are sometimes slicing each other. This is part of their bonding and cleaning each other’s bodies.
- Rabbits can be messy as well. Even naturally clean rabbits will love to play outside their cage. They will jump from one place to another and get dirt in their fur. You must clean them before returning to their cage to avoid the germs and bacteria they acquire outside.
- Cleaning rabbits prevents them from having a common disease. Since some germs and bacteria are left on the surfaces, cleaning your pet eliminates and kills those germs.
- Another advantage of cleaning the rabbit is that it also benefits humans. There are diseases that animals can transmit to humans. So ensuring that they are clean prevents this from happening.
- Here are some ways to clean your rabbit, groom them regularly, trim their nails, wipe their eyes, clean their ears, and sanitize their shelter.