Grooming is an important part of rabbit care. Grooming includes everything from brushing and nail-trimming to general health checks.
Like cats, rabbits clean and groom themselves using their tongues and their paws. However, unlike cats, rabbits have sensitive digestive systems. Since they are unable to vomit, consuming excess hair can cause major health problems. Keeping your rabbit on a regular grooming schedule will ensure they stay healthy, especially when they are moulting.
Brushing your rabbit regularly will help reduce the likelihood of knots and mats in their fur. Make sure you use specialised tools for grooming rabbits and avoid any generic brushes made for dogs and cats.
You can use the following tools to brush your rabbit:
- Slicker brushes
- Soft rubber brushes
- Grooming mitts
There are some particularly hard to reach areas that may be missed by general brushing, especially in long-haired rabbits. Take extra care to monitor the following areas for any matting: around the base of the tail, underneath the chin, under the belly, between the legs, under the feet and between the toes.
If matting occurs, don’t attempt to brush it out as this can be very painful for your rabbit. Instead, try gently untangling the mats with your fingers or small comb. If this does not work you may need to carefully cut the fur around the mat. Bear in mind that rabbits have very delicate skin that is easily damaged. Mats often form very close to the skin, so if you are not confident ask your vet to clip the area with rabbit-appropriate clippers.
You can use the following tools to remove mats from your rabbit’s fur:
- Small grooming scissors
- Small animal clippers
In the wild, rabbits dig warrens which naturally wears down their nails. Rabbits who spend time indoors or don’t have the opportunity to dig may need regular nail trims to keep them short and comfortable.
It’s important to keep a close eye on your rabbit’s nails: long nails can get snagged or torn and if left unchecked the nail can curl back into the paw pad. If you have never trimmed a rabbit’s nails before, your vet will show you the proper method and length so to not cause any bleeding, pain or discomfort. Never attempt to cut your rabbit’s nails using clippers designed for people.
You can use the following tools to trim your rabbits nails:
- Small animal nail trimmers
Important: Do not bathe rabbits unless directed by a vet. Rabbits are naturally clean animals that are very meticulous when it comes to their personal hygiene and hence do not need to be bathed under normal circumstances.
Immersing a rabbit in water can be extremely stressful for them and may even trigger a fatal state of shock.