How to Give a Rabbit a Bath

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How to Give a Rabbit a Bath

Can you give a bunny a bath? Rabbits clean themselves, and a bath isn't a normal experience for them. It might upset them enough to cause them to thrash and possibly injure themselves. However, you might run into the rare occasion when something has gotten on the rabbit, or he has been injured and you want to give him a cleaning.

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Rabbits make great pets for kids, and they aren't dirty or hard to care for. Reviewing some basic tips for giving a bath to a rabbit will help you do it correctly and safely and will make the experience positive for both you and your pet.

Does the rabbit really need a bath?

Before you try to give your pet a bath, make sure she even needs one. Give your rabbit a chance to clean herself. Rabbit groom each other. If the rabbit lives with others, let the community go to work to see if that's the natural course. Cleaning a rabbit too often can deplete the natural oils from her skin, causing more problems than you cure with the well-intentioned baths.

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If something has spilled on the rabbit and you think she might get sick from licking off the contaminant, wrap something around the bunny to prevent her or the rabbits housed with her from licking her fur. Take some pictures of the area you want cleaned and contact a professional groomer or veterinarian to get advice. If something has spilled on the rabbit, take a picture of the ingredients listed on the container in which it was held.

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Spot-clean the rabbit

You don't need to give a rabbit a traditional bath by immersing the bunny in water or even pouring water over his entire body. Start spot-cleaning the rabbit to prevent him from thinking he's being immersed, which is an unusual and scary experience for a rabbit.

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Try a "dry bath" using a mild, nonsynthetic substance, like cornstarch and a flea comb. You can try using a baby powder made for humans as well. Don't use talcum powder, commercial flea powders, or other treatments without first getting approval from a vet or groomer. Even baking soda can be dangerous. Make sure you firmly hold the rabbit with one hand and arm so he knows you have him securely and he's not going to fall or submerge in the water. You can lift the bunny every so often to let him know you're in control of him.

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If you need to give the bunny a shampoo (approved by your vet or groomer), try spot cleaning the rabbit by getting part of him wet and then applying a small amount of shampoo in that area. Rub gently and rinse before moving to the next area. Covering most of the bunny's body with water and shampoo at the same time might stress him. Once you're finished cleaning, lightly tamp the fur and don't try to rub the bunny dry. If your rabbit is very furry and saturated, try a blow dryer on a low setting and see how he reacts. Make sure you don't let wet fur clump and tangle.

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Experiment with bathing early

If possible, don't wait until a situation arises when you feel you must give your rabbit a bath. At that point, you might not have the luxury of being able to take the time to experiment with different water temperatures, cleaners, a brush, and a sink, bathtub, or other container. Before you need to give the rabbit a bath, try placing your rabbit in a shallow container of water to see if she reacts. The deeper the water, the more your rabbit might get nervous, so just let her wade and splash her feet in a very shallow amount of water.

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Make sure the water isn't cold or hot; try a tepid, or warm, bath. During this first try, you might not even pour water on the rabbit. Just let her walk around in the tub while you stroke her and talk to her. Make sure the rabbit doesn't feel as if she's in deep water. You might even keep the stopper out of the sink or tub or rig a hole in the container you're using so it doesn't fill with water and panic the rabbit.

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Try another experiment a bit later by putting your rabbit in the same sink, tub, or container with no water. She'll recognize the tub and will start to become used to it. Try pouring some tepid water on the bunny while stroking her to make this "bath" feel more like a massage than a soaking. As part of socializing bunnies, you might do these experiments with two or more rabbits to give them some peer support.

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