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Don’t Bathe the Bunnies

Don't bathe the bunnies

Can you bathe a rabbit? The short answer to the question is NO. Unless your vet has instructed you to bathe your bunny due to a major health issue, rabbits should never be bathed. Unlike dogs, rabbits self-groom. This means that they are perfectly able to take care of their own fur and skin. You can brush them and spot clean them when absolutely necessary, but you should never submerge your bunny into water for a bath. The trauma that rabbits experience is serious enough to put them into shock, or put them at risk of injuries – even damaged spine or fractured limbs!

As extremely clean critters, rabbits take care of their own grooming. You may need to do the odd bottom wipe-down once in a while. This can be done without trauma or other trouble. When they make a mess, it's usually because of a problem with their diet. The only reason a rabbit may start to smell or look unclean is a health condition that is preventing them from grooming themselves. If this happens, rather than trying to give your bun a bath, rather take him to the vet as soon as possible. There may be an issue with his diet or he may need a check-up to make sure that nothing is wrong.

Why is bathing a rabbit so bad? In this guide, we explain more about the dangers of bathing bunnies.

Being submerged in water is more than an unpleasant experience for most rabbits. Even infrequent baths can be traumatic for the average bunny. We're not talking toddler-protesting-tooth-brushing before bed traumatic. Stressed rabbits can go into shock, making bathing downright dangerous. So, to answer the question "can you bathe a rabbit?" The answer? Absolutely not. If a rabbit is soiling himself or smells bad, the problem can usually be corrected with diet modifications, more frequent litter box changes, and a vet visit if necessary.

​The Risks Of Bathing Rabbits

Like many other domesticated small animals, rabbits are self-cleaning pets that generally do a great job of keeping themselves gorgeous. Bathing is unnecessary, and can cause health problems. 

🐰Panicked rabbits may thrash around in water, injuring their limbs or spine (especially if they find themselves in water unsupervised). 

rabbit sitting

🐰Panicked rabbits may thrash around in water, injuring their limbs or spine (especially if they find themselves in water unsupervised). 

🐰Water in the ears can cause an ear infection. 

🐰Like other small animals, rabbits can catch a chill and become sick from being wet. Rabbits don't dry easily thanks to their thick undercoat, which gives them ample time to lose body heat. 

🐰Trapped moisture on a damp rabbit can irritate their naturally sensitive skin. 

🐰Stress can also cause issues in itself, like gastrointestinal stasis or even a heart attack.

Rabbits that enter a trance-like state are not daydreaming in the bubble bath. Tonic immobility is a fear-based, involuntary response. The rabbit's heart rate and blood pressure may actually drop. They might look peaceful, but they certainly aren't relaxing. 

​Safe Grooming Habits 

Regular grooming is a great way to bond with your rabbit. It also provides an opportunity to give her a general once-over, checking for any strange lumps and bumps or other abnormalities. Brush with a soft-bristled brush to remove loose hair and take care of any mats with a mat splitter for long-haired rabbits (cutting out mats with scissors isn't recommended). 

Spot-cleaning with a damp cloth or natural baby wipes will help remove dirt and debris if your rabbit goes on an unauthorized adventure. If they end up ​wetter than anticipated, you can dry with warm towels. If you choose to use a blow dryer, make sure it is on the lowest setting. Be careful not to burn her super sensitive skin.

rabbit grooming

​Take a hint from chinchillas and try dry bathing using corn starch. Most rabbits tolerate this no-water-allowed method much better. It's great for removing dried, stuck poop. The more it's worked into the skin and coats the mess, the easier the debris will loosen and come out easily with a comb (try a fine-toothed flea comb). Do NOT use baby powders that contain talc. Flea powders aren't advisable either (topical Revolution, however, is safe for parasite control).

When only a booty bath or paw wash will do, cleanse only the areas needed, holding your rabbit securely and supporting their hind end and back feet. Use water that is a comfortable temperature on your hand; too hot or too cold can cause the rabbit to go into shock. Don't let the rabbit sit in a pool of water, and avoid getting water in the ears and nose at all costs. Water alone is usually sufficient for washing off urine. If a product is necessary, use a hypo-allergenic, non-medicated, environmentally-friendly shampoo that is safe for bunnies. Those advertised for humans/babies, dogs, and cats are rarely appropriate.

➡️ Check out this article from the House Rabbit Society on SUPER in-depth grooming info.

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