How To Groom a Rabbit: The Complete Guide

Rabbits spend a lot of time grooming and keeping themselves looking beautiful.

You’ve surely noticed when your little one rubs their face and ears with their fuzzy paws…

It’s irresistibly adorable! 🐰

So the natural question that comes to owners’ minds is ‘Do I really need to help out?’

The answer is YES; your rabbits need a ‘grooming’ hand.

But how do you groom a rabbit? Theres some good news:

It’s not a crazy amount of work, and this complete rabbit grooming how-to guide will show you everything you have to do to keep your rabbit happy, healthy, and clean for many years to come!

Keep reading and learn how to groom a rabbit.

Brushing Your Rabbit’s Fur

Let’s kick off our guide with the most important rabbit grooming activity you need to master — brushing.

How Often?

If you have a short-haired rabbit, you should aim to brush them about once a week.

But, if you have a long-haired rabbit (like an Angora), they need to be brushed every day.

However, when shedding season comes around — rabbits shed their old coat every three months or so — you need to move to daily brushing regardless of fur length. Shedding can last between one day and a few weeks, depending on your specific rabbit, so be patient and keep your bunny well-groomed!

Fluffy angora rabbit
Long haired rabbits such as the Angora need more grooming than short hair breeds

Why Brush Your Rabbit?

Grooming is necessary because rabbits love to clean themselves with their tiny tongues, and well, that comes with a significant downside:

They ingest a lot of loose hair that may cause hairballs in their stomach, and unlike cats, rabbits can’t spit them out…

This means these hairballs could get stuck (known as ‘wool block‘) and lead to potentially life-threatening health problems like GI Statis.

Ouch!

So do your shedding rabbits a huge favor and brush them regularly to eliminate their loose fur and keep their tiny tummies hairball-free!

How?

Follow this process:

  1. Get yourself a soft rabbit brush to match your soft rabbit. Check out this article to discover our ten favorite picks! We’ve got you covered regardless of whether you want a fine-toothed comb, a bristle brush, or a slicker brush!
  2. Pet your bunny and make them feel comfortable — you may either groom them on the floor or in your lap, whatever you prefer!
  3. Ensure your rabbit’s bottom is clean; if not, wipe it softly with a damp cloth to avoid spreading any urine or feces as you brush.
  4. Brush your rabbit in the direction that their fur grows and marvel at all the loose hair that comes out. But be gentle as bunnies have sensitive skin!
  5. Look out for loose tufts of fur that form as you brush your rabbit and tenderly pluck these out with your hand, a glove brush, or a rubber brush (or all three).
  6. Keep gently brushing, plucking, and petting until your rabbit’s coat is free from visible excess fur.
  7. Give your bunny a good cuddle and then place them back down — you can also give them a little treat if they’ve behaved well!
  8. Repeat this process until you’ve established a solid grooming routine that both of you enjoy!

If you notice matted fur (clumps of tangled hair) as you brush, don’t panic!

Simply check out the next section:

What About Matted Hair?

Matted fur can cause quite a few headaches to rabbit owners…

What should you do with it?

Use a mat splitter or a mat rake to gently separate the tangled hair and work out the clumps. You might require several grooming sessions to remove a stubborn mat.

But beware of tugging too hard on their delicate rabbit skin as you brush these tough spots. It helps to have a friend or family member hold your rabbit tight as you struggle with the knot.

If you feel like the clumped rabbit fur is just impossible to comb out, then whatever you do, don’t try removing it with scissors! It’s just too risky and dangerous — if you accidentally cut your rabbit’s skin, it could prove fatal!

Instead, take your pet to a rabbit-savvy vet or groomer that can remove mats using electric animal clippers. It’s not advisable to use this (expensive) tool on your own unless you’re a trained professional.

Trimming Your Rabbit’s Fur

Only long-haired rabbits need their fur trimmed, so feel free to skip this section if your adorable little fellow has naturally short hair.

Trimming comes in handy if you don’t have time for daily brushing sessions with your long-haired rabbits.

Provided they’re not show animals, of course! 🐇🏵️

Cutting their long fur down to about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length reduces excess fur ingestion and prevents your rabbit from collecting hay, litter, or droppings in their coat, which may cause painful mats and skin infections.

You may either choose to:

  1. Carefully trim their fur coat yourself using a pair of blunt-tipped scissors (like these ones ), or
  2. Take them to a rabbit groomer for some professional help.

Once the deed is done and they’ve become ‘undercover’ short-haired rabbits, you can switch over to brushing them every three days.

Important note:

Be very careful to leave enough hair over your rabbit’s hocks (their bunny heels), as this natural padding protects their tender skin from sores and inflammations.

Bathing Your Rabbit

The million-dollar question is:

‘Do rabbits need to take baths?’

Luckily for you (and your rabbits too), the answer is a resounding NO!

Why?

Because most rabbits hate water, just like cats!

But the word ‘hate’ isn’t quite enough… rabbits can get so stressed from a single bath that it could lead to a heart attack or a host of other serious health problems!

There’s only one major exception when rabbits may need a bath to help keep them clean:

When you notice the dreaded poopy butt.’ These dried feces may lead to flystrike, a potentially deadly condition caused by flies laying eggs in the soiled patch of fur.

Your first course of action is to try to clean your rabbit’s behind with a wet towel, but if the feces have already hardened, a shallow bath is your only choice. It’s not easy, and it won’t be a pleasant experience, but here’s the best way to do it:

  1. Fill your sink with a couple of inches (4-5 cm) of warm water.
  2. Add a touch of your favorite pet shampoo to the water.
  3. Softly place your rabbit down in the sink.
  4. If your rabbit looks too nervous, then keep them in your arms and only dip their bottom.
  5. Speak to your bunny in a soothing voice.
  6. Use your free hand to gently clean your rabbit with the warm, soapy water.
  7. Rinse your rabbit’s bottom.
  8. Take them out of the sink and tenderly towel them.
  9. Keep them in a warm place until they’re 100% dry.

Once your rabbit is clean, you should investigate what caused ‘poopy butt’ in your rabbit.

Generally, a poor diet that’s low in fiber is the culprit, so pay close attention to what your rabbit is eating!

If that’s not the issue, then it’s highly recommended to take your pet rabbit to the vet for a full health check-up, as you really don’t want to make shallow baths a regular habit.

Next up:

Clipping Your Rabbit’s Nails

This is another significant part of your rabbit grooming routine; it deserves a deep-dive as you’ll be cutting their nails frequently.

How Often?

You should clip your rabbit’s nails about once a month.

But make sure to check them every time you’re brushing your rabbit, as sometimes they might grow faster and get too long before your scheduled trimming session.

If you notice this, then cut them straight away as it’s easier (and less painful) to cut rabbit nails when they’re short.

Why?

Rabbits have nails that never stop growing.

It’s because, in the wild, they are always digging, and their nails have evolved for this wearing task.

And since house rabbits can’t dig through your floors (no matter how many different ways they try), you have to step in and keep their nails from getting too long and uncomfortable.

How?

This is the process you should mirror:

First things first, make sure your rabbit is comfortable. You have the choice between four positions:

  1. Lay your rabbit on your lap with their feet up.
  2. Have your rabbit stand on a table at a suitable height.
  3. Cuddle your rabbit in one of your arms.
  4. Wrap your rabbit up in a towel, making a ‘bunny burrito.’

Then gently grab one of your rabbit’s paws and focus on a single nail. Each nail has a vein inside it, known as the quick — find it to avoid cutting it.

If your rabbit has light-colored nails, it’ll be easy to identify where the quick ends and the nail starts.

But if your rabbit has dark-colored nails, you’ll have to use a flashlight to locate it.

Once you’ve found it, use a pair of rabbit-safe nail clippers (like these ) to snip the nail right below the end of the quick.

Then repeat this same process with every nail on each paw, and you’ll be done in no time!

Important Safety Point

Always have styptic powder (like Kwik-Stop ) on hand.

Why?

You can use styptic powder (along with gentle pressure) if you accidentally cut one of their nails too close to the vein and they bleed.

Does trimming your rabbit’s nails at home sound like a little bit too much?

Don’t worry — your friendly neighborhood vet can help out!

Veterinarian trimming rabbit's nails
Veterinarian trimming rabbit’s nails

Cleaning Your Rabbit’s Delicate Areas

Now that you’ve mastered the three vital aspects of bunny grooming — brushing fur, clipping nails, and trimming long-haired rabbits — it’s time to look at four body parts that require some extra loving.

Eyes

Rabbits have stunning eyes.

That’s a known fact.

But they’re not famous for being great at keeping them clean — you need to help your rabbit out!

Rabbits are prone to developing a discharge residue around their eyes and having problems with irritations or redness caused by hay and fur.

Keep an ‘eye’ out for both issues and:

  1. Remove any gunk with damp cotton balls as soon as you see it without touching their eyeballs.
  2. Use rabbit-friendly eyewash to remove any hay or fur that’s stuck inside their eyes.
  3. Brush excess fur away from your bunny’s eyes with a flea comb or a small brush to avoid it dangling in their eyes.

Ears

Bunny ears are another important (and adorable) body part that you should check each time you have a grooming session.

Look for ear wax, damp areas, or debris build-up in the outer ear.

If you don’t see anything, then that’s it, nothing else to do.

But if you find wax or debris, use a cotton swab to remove it delicately.

Be mindful not to push any of the wax deeper into the ear canal, and never ever try to remove wax from deep inside of your bunny’s ears. If you see wax there, take your rabbit to the vet for an ear wash!

Bottom

You’ve already learned how to deal with ‘poopy butt’ in the Bathing a Rabbit section, so you’ll find cleaning your rabbit’s bottom during normal grooming time a breeze!

Always check your rabbit’s bottom side before grooming them with a comb or a soft bristle brush.

You don’t want to accidentally spread excess urine or droppings all over their fur, especially if they’re shedding…

That would be a grooming disaster and a recipe for irritated rabbit skin!

If you see anything stuck around their seat, stop everything and get a damp cloth or a few cotton balls.

Then delicately wipe their dirty underside before drying them with a soft towel.

Once they’re nice and clean, you’re okay to start brushing.

Pro Grooming Tip

Spot cleaning your rabbit’s cage/hutch/litter box is the key to reducing the number of feces that get stuck in their fur.

Scent Glands

Scent glands, the last of the four delicates areas, are often overlooked because many owners rabbit owners don’t even know they exist — did you?

All rabbits have scents glands next to their genitals and under their chin (they use these for ‘chinning’ — a.k.a. laying claim to their territory).

You won’t need to worry about the chin scents glands as they don’t suffer from build-up.

However, the ones near the genitals must be kept clean as they may produce too much wax, resulting in blocked, painful glands and an unpleasant odor.

How should you clean them?

Simple:

  1. Find a cotton ball or a Q-tip and dip it into mineral oil.
  2. Hold your rabbit on your lap belly side up, so you can easily access their genital area.
  3. Look for two slits on either side of their genitals — these are the scent glands.
  4. Use the cotton ball/Q-tip to apply the mineral oil to the glands.
  5. Wait 1-2 minutes and then wipe away the softened build-up — move tenderly as the gland membrane is even more sensitive than their delicate skin!

If your rabbits are shedding heavily, use a fine-toothed comb to remove the loose hair from over and around their scent glands before attempting to clean them.

Checking for Harmful Parasites

Unfortunately, rabbits suffer from a range of parasites that attack their skin and fur. These dangerous invaders are known to make them feel itchy, sore, or even sick.

They need your help to fend them off!

Every time you sit down to brush or groom your rabbits, you should look for:

  • Fleas, which are minute black insects that generally live around the head and groin areas
  • Mites, which are tiny arachnids that look like dandruff or dark debris to the naked eye — make sure to check your bunny’s ears as ear mites can be very dangerous!
  • Ticks, which are larger, round arachnids that crawl on the fur and skin of bunny rabbits
  • Bald patches or flaky skin, which may be signs of parasites despite you not seeing them

If you spot any of these buggers, take your rabbit to the vet as soon as possible!

You can also use a flea comb as a non-toxic removal tool to supplement any medication they receive.

Three More Important Health Tips

As a little grooming bonus for your rabbits, we’ve included three extra bits of advice.

Enjoy!

Prevent Sores on Your Rabbit’s Feet

Rabbits don’t have soft padding on their feet (like cats), and their only protection from hard floors comes from their fluffy fur.

This means a rabbit may develop painful sores and inflammations on their feet if they spend too much time on a firm (or wet) surface.

Hence, you should provide soft, dry flooring for your rabbits everywhere they hop and binky.

Try using rugs, fleece blankets, hay, or soft bedding, and definitely avoid wire-bottomed cages!

P.S.

Rabbits with long hair also need fur under their feet, so remember not to trim it off!

Keep Your Rabbit’s Teeth Healthy

It’s good practice to integrate inspecting your pet’s teeth into your grooming routine.

It’ll only take 20 seconds, and it’ll protect your rabbit from nasty dental surprises!

As you brush your rabbit, gently open up their mouth (or wait for a yawn) and check for:

  • Severely overgrown teeth
  • Chipped teeth
  • Red or purple gums
  • Drooling
  • Terrible breath

If you notice any of these, go straight to the vet!

But if you see that your rabbit’s teeth are just slightly overgrown, don’t panic!

Simply help them get more yummy hay into their diet as the extra chewing will wear down their teeth. By the way, make sure you’re giving Timothy to adults and Alfalfa to babies and nursing does.

Take Your Rabbit to the Vet for Regular Check-ups

No matter how great of a groomer you become, you can’t do it all!

Well, unless you’re a veterinarian…

But everybody else should schedule an annual or bi-annual appointment with their trusted rabbit-savvy vet!

A professional examination may save you and your beautifully primped rabbits from negative surprises down the line.

Concluding Our Guide To Rabbit Grooming

You’ve just read an incredible amount of rabbit grooming information!

To help all of it stick in your mind, let’s quickly summarize what you’ve learned:

  • Brushing and trimming fur
  • Bathing (or rather NOT bathing) a rabbit
  • Clipping nails
  • Cleaning a rabbit’s four delicate areas (eyes, ears, bottom, scent glands)
  • Checking for parasites
  • Avoiding feet sores
  • Checking for teeth issues
  • Scheduling your regular vet trips

Wow, right?

Pat yourself on the back for a job well done; you deserve it! 🎉🎈🎊

And now go out and practice, practice, practice with your lovely rabbits — they’ll love the extra pampering and attention!

Girl playing with her cute fluffy rabbits

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