Rabbits, like other furry household pets, require regular grooming to keep their fur healthy and shiny. Efficient rabbit grooming should also include nails and ears. This hands-on attention promotes bonding and keeps you apprised of any abnormal growths, lumps or skin changes that could indicate a health problem. As a general rule, rabbits don’t need to be bathed, just brushed.
Rabbits have delicate skin under their fur, so select a bristle or pin brush in place of a metal or slicker brush. Get rabbits used to grooming when they’re young so they get accustomed to the idea and begin to look forward to and enjoy their grooming time. Rabbits shed every three months, during which time you should brush them daily, in a head-to-tail direction. During off-shed, a weekly brushing is enough, though you may opt to do it more frequently if both you and your rabbit enjoy it.
Combing your rabbit with a fine-tooth comb is a good follow-up to brushing, particularly during shed. This is also highly effective for long-haired rabbits. If you find combing difficult, look for a silicone-coated comb that will glide through rabbit fur easily. You may find long-haired breeds and Angoras are easier to maintain if you have their hair clipped to about an inch in length.
Your rabbit’s ears should be swabbed weekly with a commercial rabbit ear-cleaning solution available from your vet or pet supply store. Use a cotton swab and don’t actually go into the ear canal, just along the inside of the ear. Dark wax or dark spots can be an indication of ear mites, especially if accompanied by ear scratching. See your vet for confirmation and treatment.
While rabbits should have their nails trimmed, it can be a very tricky undertaking for a pet owner. You could get scratched, or accidentally cut to the quick and injure your rabbit. This could make her jumpy about you, and about future grooming sessions. For best results, ask your vet or professional groomer to handle this delicate task.
Grooming is a good time to check your rabbit’s feet for sores and to look closely at his fur for signs of fleas or mites. Also examine his eyes for signs of discharge or crusting. Small scabs on the skin are an indication skin mites are present, and this type of health issue needs veterinary attention. Clean your rabbit’s cage or hutch at the same time you groom him to ensure he goes back into a clean and healthy environment.
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