Can You Give Rabbits a Bath?

Just like any other pet, there will be times when your rabbit is dirty enough that you feel like a […]

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Just like any other pet, there will be times when your rabbit is dirty enough that you feel like a bath is more than warranted. Although rabbits groom themselves, there may be moments when you feel like a bit more help is needed. When this is the case, can you give rabbits a bath?

Rabbits are fastidious groomers, which means they regularly groom themselves, making baths almost completely unnecessary. Rabbits should never be completely submerged in water and should only be spot cleaned when their own grooming will not suffice to thoroughly clean a particular area.

Rabbits are incredibly meticulous when it comes to their grooming, especially those that are kept as pets. Because of this, it makes giving them a bath typically unnecessary as they know how to keep their fur and feet in mint condition. However, if you find that your rabbit is much dirtier than normal, can you give them a bath? Continue reading below to find all you need to know about bathing rabbits.

Can You Give Rabbits a Bath?

© sgs_1019 / Flickr

If you have a pet rabbit within your home, it is unlikely that they will ever be put in a position where they come out so dirty that a bath is needed. However, if you take your rabbit to a park or allow them a bit of freedom in your backyard, they may find a way to end up in a muddy patch or graze along fresh grass so long that their fur comes out with a green hue to it. If this happens to your pet, is it ok to give them a bath?

Rabbits can be bathed, but it should be avoided if at all possible. When bathing your rabbit, never fully submerge them underwater and only spot clean them with a damp rag and a bit of water. Rabbits are typically not fond of getting wet, which can cause them distress when bathed.

Rabbits are fastidious groomers, therefore, they are incredibly conscious of their cleanliness level and are always working to keep themselves as clean as possible. Because of this, although you can bathe your rabbit to a degree, there will rarely be a time when you actually are forced to clean your rabbit any better than what they are already doing. If rabbits can be bathed then, how should owners go about the process?

How to Bathe a Rabbit

If you find yourself in a position where your rabbit has taken on a bit more dirt than it is able to handle on its own, there may be the need for a bath. However, as previously noted, a bath as people or dogs may take is not appropriate for this species. Because of this, you have to bathe your rabbit in a way that will not only get them clean, but keep them calm as well. Read below to find out the best way to get your rabbit clean without causing any harm.

When bathing a rabbit, owners must be sure to first, never submerge their bodies fully underwater. Place them on a towel or a non-slip mat within a bathtub and, with the aid of another person, slowly clean the area that is in need of bathing with a wet cloth and warm water. 

If you choose to keep your rabbit in a tub or sink during this process, it is usually best to keep warm water held in either a bowl or pitcher, as the loud noise from running water can easily startle them and cause them to thrash. Use a damp rag to cleanse particular areas and clean and dip it in the available water when moving from place to place. This should cause minimal stress and keep the chances of soaking your pet at a minimum.

When going through the bathing process, it is also often easier to have someone assisting you during the bath. Rabbits tend to fear water, and when they are placed in an enclosed area and held down to a degree, they can easily jump or thrash with a strength that is difficult for one person to control. By having someone nearby, they can make the process a bit faster as they keep the rabbit calm while you gently cleanse it.

How to Dry a Rabbit?

© Pet Keen

Once the bath has been completed and your rabbit is completely clean of any soap that may have settled into its coat, you are then left with the task of drying your rabbit. Drying is typically a much easier process than bathing a rabbit, as no water is present and they tend to be much more relaxed beneath a towel rather than a wet rag. When it comes time to dry a rabbit, what is the best way to go about such a task?

When drying a rabbit, you should use a warm towel to take them from the tub or sink and into a more accessible area. Take the towel and gently stroke any water from the surface of their fur before moving forward with more rapid motions that will pull any water from deeper within their coat. 

A warm towel is often better than one that has been pulled straight from the cabinet, as this temperature can often work to calm a rabbit if it has gotten anxious during the bathing process. Taking the warm towel, gently run it over their fur in the natural direction that it grows. Be sure to never pull or tug on their hair, as their skin is very delicate and this can cause irritation or even tearing if tugged too hard.

If you notice that some spots are still damp, you can use a more rapid drying motion to get into areas with more water, but always be as gentle as possible. Some owners use hair dryers to dry their rabbits, but this should generally be avoided as the noise can be very startling and the temperature can vary rather greatly which can cause burning. Once your rabbit is dry, you can brush its fur out to ensure that no tangles or knots are present.

Are There Any Risks to Bathing a Rabbit?

You know that baths should typically be avoided unless absolutely necessary due to a rabbit’s ability to clean themselves thoroughly. However, when there is absolutely no way around them needing a bit more cleaning up, is there anything that owners should be aware of that could be potentially harmful to their pets? Rabbits are rather resilient animals, but when it comes to bathing, there are a few risks that owners should always keep in mind.

The risks associated with bathing a rabbit include skin irritation, cuts within their delicate skin, hypothermia, or even shock. This is especially true for rabbits who experience a bath in which they are completely submerged. These risks are why bathing should be done at an absolute minimum. 

Rabbits have incredibly delicate skin, and although you cannot typically see it beneath their thick fur, it is thin and apt to tear or become irritated when treated improperly. Bathing your rabbit and soaking their fur down to the skin can cause the skin to dry, causing irritation. Rabbits can also come out of a bath with small cuts within their skin due to being held down while they resist or try to wriggle from your grasp.

Beyond skin problems, if your rabbit is particularly fearful of water, receiving a bath can be a point of extreme anxiety. With the sound of rushing water and their bodies becoming wet, it can cause them to go into a state of shock. Shock is incredibly hard on a rabbit’s heart and can cause serious health issues, which can even lead to death. This is why it is imperative to be extremely gentle when your rabbit is bathing while also making it as comfortable as possible.

How to Know if Your Rabbit is Experiencing Health Issues During a Bath

© PetCoach

Rabbit is suffering from severe skin disease.

If you are in the middle of a bath and notice that your rabbit is beginning to act a tad different than normal, you may need to assess the situation to see if they are undergoing any health issues. Read below to learn how to interpret the signs.

For skin irritation, this is typically seen once the bath has been completed and will usually arise within either a few hours or within a few days. However, if a small cut happens during the bath and you notice that your rabbit is wincing every time you touch a particular spot, this could be an indication that skin damage has occurred. If this happens, remove your rabbit from the bath, dry it properly, and be sure to tend to the wound.

To tell whether or not your rabbit is going into shock, pay close attention to their body and body language. If a rabbit is going into shock you will notice rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, pale or white gums, a limp body, cold ears, and glazed eyes. Not all of these symptoms may be present, so be sure to pay close attention if you see even one of these present within your rabbit.

Hypothermia can also occur after a rabbit has been bathed and was not properly dried, especially in the winter months. To check if your rabbit is experiencing hypothermia, you will notice that they sit without moving or are moving very slowly, their ears and feet may be cold to the touch, their breathing may be shallow, their heartbeat may be weak, or they may not respond to you when trying to interact.

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