It may seem like excessive shedding is an inconvenience, keeping you busy cleaning hairs off your clothes and floors, but a rabbit that sheds a lot may have a health problem that needs attention. Because of this, it is important to pay attention to your rabbit's hair loss and talk to your veterinarian if it seems excessive.
Know What's Normal
All rabbits shed twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. The process is unavoidable, as the rabbit sheds his heavy winter coat to prepare for warmer weather, and again, sheds his thinner summer coat in preparation for cold weather. Even a pet that lives indoors will shed, as he is shedding and growing his coat in response to the amount of daylight increasing or decreasing, not the actual temperature.
Care For His Coat
Shedding can cause health problems in your rabbit. Rabbits have a slow-moving digestive system, so hair that they swallow as they groom themselves can build up in the stomach, developing into a hairball. Regular grooming can remove loose hair and reduce the risk of your rabbit developing hairballs. Groom him daily when he is shedding, using a wire slicker brush. After brushing him thoroughly, wet your hands and rub them over your rabbit, both with and against the natural lay of his hair. Any remaining loose hairs will stick to your damp hands.
Buy From a Reputable Breeder
Not all rabbits go through the typical spring and fall shedding cycle. Some rabbits seem to shed on a nearly constant basis. This is often due to poor breeding, such as breeding rabbits who are closely related. Inbreeding can interrupt the rabbit's normal response to changes in day length that trigger shedding.
Watch for Signs of Illness
Aside from the semi-annual shedding that is normal and unavoidable, you shouldn't notice much hair loss from your rabbit. If you do, look for signs of illness. If he has hair loss around his chin and on the front of his chest, he may have dental problems. Hair loss along the hindquarters may indicate a urinary tract problem in your rabbit. If he doesn't seem to be losing hair in any particular spot, but you notice an increase in the amount of hair he is losing, he may have a parasitic infection, such as lice or mange. Examine his skin carefully for flaky skin, a crusty appearance in spots, open sores or inflamed, irritated skin. These symptoms indicate something is going on with your rabbit that needs medical attention.
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