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Nail Care for Rabbits

rabbit nail care

She may disagree with us, but most house rabbits can't (shouldn't??) wear down their nails enough by digging indoors. Carpet simply doesn't provide enough friction to keep them nicely filed. Super active rabbits may need assistance in the mani/pedi department a little less often, but occasional rabbit nail trims are a part of living the bun life. Too-long nails that start to curl can dig into the foot pad, get snagged on things, or split and tear. Ouch! So the question is: how to trim your rabbit's nails... what's the answer?

Handy Tools

Clippers

Rabbits have round nails, so clippers that provide a rounded edge are ideal. Human nail clippers are designed for thin, flat nails, but will work in a pinch. Many prefer safety scissor-style clippers. If you can't find nail clippers made for small animals, those designed for cats are usually a safe bet. It all comes down to what is most comfortable for you and your rabbit. 

rabbit nail clippers

Towel

It's not unusual for your bun to get antsy at grooming time. You know how those independent types can be. You can use a towel to safely restrain them, bunrito-style.  

Flashlight

The secret weapon for dark-nailed rabbits revealed! Rabbits with light-colored nails pose less of a challenge, because it's easy to see the quick. A flashlight evens the playing field for those that excel at nighttime hide-and-seek. 

Styptic Power (Magic Dust)

Styptic powder and a few seconds of pressure will stop the bleeding after accidentally cutting the quick. This is a purchase you won't regret. The fear of cutting nails too short is what makes the process stressful for both of you. Sooner or later it's bound to happen. Just like when we cut our own nail too short (okay, or bite), it hurts a little but life goes on. Yes, she'll forgive you. 

Treats

Need we say more? Treats can be used a distraction for a squirmy rabbit, a bribe, or a peace offering. Until next time, at least.

Tricks of the Trade

A rabbit can kick and injure her back if she struggles, so proper handling is extra important during nail trimming. She'll feel more secure held close to your body or on a stable surface. When possible, it helps to have one person hold the rabbit, supporting their back end, while the other person does the clipping. This is where the towel comes in handy. 

You want to cut each nail at an angle facing upward, about 1/8 inch above where you can see the visible vein known as the quick. Time to break out the flashlight for those that hit the pigment jackpot. Try not to hesitate when clipping. A half-clipped nail is more likely to snag, and it can be painful for a rabbit that pulls away mid-snip. Be quick and confident with each cut. It's okay to take off just the tips more often rather than cutting a lot at once. More frequent trimmings will keep the quick from growing out too much with the nail.

Remember. if she gets too worked up, it's okay to take a break for some cuddles or treats until she calms down. Nail art is probably pushing it, but a little alfalfa hay has been known to buy some time. 

Check out this awesome video from House Rabbit Society on how to trim your rabbit's nails. ⬇️⬇️⬇️

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