Rabbits are fastidious self-cleaners. What that means is that they'll do their best to keep themselves clean and smelling good. Sometimes, however, they might need a little extra help. This is especially true when the bunny has runny feces or a dirty cage. Cleaning a smelly rabbit can be tricky, but it's sometimes more than necessary.
Start With the Cage
If your bunny is smelly, chances are his cage needs cleaning. Rabbits' urine and soft feces can have a pretty strong smell, especially if you haven't changed the bedding for a while. Before you clean anything, throw away all bedding and then wash the cage thoroughly using dish soap and warm water. Don't use anything that could be poisonous or hurt the bunny's skin, such as bleach. Rinse well and dry using paper towels. Then add new bedding. Pellet-shaped bedding is a good choice, as it's absorbent and can help reduce odors.
Dry baths are perfect for bunnies with a "wet bottom," a common name for runny diarrhea. Keep in mind that the dry bath is not meant to replace a visit to the vet to find out the cause of the diarrhea -- the bath is just meant to help you deal with the smell while the problem gets resolved. To do a dry bath, buy baby cornstarch powder -- not talc, which can be dangerous if inhaled. Then turn the bunny around and apply the powder around the tummy and tail area. The powder will absorb any wet and soiled areas. Use a comb or brush to clean the area and remove any excess powder. If you're using a scented powder, you'll end up with a good-smelling and clean bunny.
Rabbits are not very fond of water, so giving yours a bath is not going to be comfortable. To avoid giving Fluffy too much stress, gather all supplies in advance so you can move through the process quickly. Pour some warm water in a shallow container, then mix some pet shampoo into the water. Make sure the water is shallow -- reaching to the bunny's tummy and no higher. Then prepare a second container with just water to rinse off the shampoo. Place both containers on the ground or inside the bathtub, just in case Fluffy gets away. You don't want him to drop from a high surface and injure himself. Then place the bunny into the water with shampoo and wash the hair as quickly as possible. Then move to the next container and rinse. Don't pour water over the bunny; instead, use your hand to rinse. Towel dry.
If the smell is not terrible but you still think Bunny could use a bath, try pet towelettes. Buy the kind that are cat-approved. That's because rabbits, like cats, like to lick themselves, so you don't want to choose something with lots of added chemicals and perfumes that the bunny can end up swallowing. The towelettes are easy to use -- just rub over the hair and skin --- but don't overdo it. Just use them when the smell gets unbearable and an "intervention" is necessary.
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Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.