When you brought your adorable baby bunny home, the issue of whether to bathe or not bathe may have never crossed your mind. Rabbits are self-cleaning pets that don't usually require a full-submersion dousing in the tub. There might be times, though, when your long-eared friend gets into something messy or sticky or gets behind on the grooming duties in the back 40. In such a circumstance, your rabbit might require a little help from you to get clean again.
Baths for Bunnies Aren't Optimal
Rabbits can go their entire lives without becoming so dirty that they have to be plunged into a tub of water to get clean again. It's not as easy as it sounds to fill up the kitchen sink and try to dip your bunny in. She won't go calmly into the water and the ensuing struggle will stress her out and can cause injuries to both you and your rabbit. Hypothermia is another reason to avoid a bunny bath as your rabbit's body temperature can drop in an instant.
Spot-Cleaning Is Preferred
Usually spot-cleaning is all that's necessary to keep your rabbit clean, even when she's soiled. Find a waterless shampoo at the pet supply store and keep it on hand to spritz your bun if she gets into something sticky or oily. Alternatively you can spot-clean your rabbit with a dry or barely damp rag or paper towel.
No Other Option
If your bun is so soiled that you have no other option, bathe only the part of her in dire need of a deep-cleaning. For instance, if her rear end is extremely dirty, dip only her hindquarters into a tub of warm water and use a rag or your fingers to work a cat shampoo into her fur to clean just that area. Be careful to thoroughly rinse all the shampoo from her fur. Then dry her off as much as possible with a clean, dry towel. To keep your bunny's body temperature from dropping to a dangerous level, after toweling her off you should finish the job with your blow-dryer turned to a low setting. Take care not to burn her sensitive skin.
A Dry Bath Is a Safe Bath
One entirely safe way to bathe a bunny is the dry bath. Since you won't place her in water, she's less likely to freak out and won't run the risk of injury or hypothermia. Chances are she may enjoy getting a dry bath. Just wad up a towel and put it in your lap then set your rabbit on top of the towel. Sprinkle some talc-free, cornstarch-based baby powder onto your rabbit and work it into her fur with your fingertips, concentrating on the soiled areas. This is the part she'll enjoy, since it will feel like a massage. When you're done, use a soft-bristle brush to sweep the baby powder and the dirt from your rabbit's coat.
Routine Rabbit Grooming
Avoid the point of having to consider giving your rabbit a bath by grooming regularly. She'll do most of the work herself, but you can help out by brushing her weekly if she has short hair and daily if she has long hair. Be gentle, as your bunny has delicate skin. The brushing sessions will provide some bonding time for both of you and give you a chance to check her body for abnormalities, her skin for parasites and her ears to make sure they are clean, dry and odor-free.
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Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.