Whether pet rabbits live outdoors or in a safe indoor enclosure, they often find themselves with dirty feet. Because rabbits are fragile and easily stressed, handling them for any reason, including cleaning their feet, must be done very carefully.
In this article, we’ll tell you how to safely clean a rabbit’s feet in six simple steps, including preparation and techniques. We’ll also cover other important rabbit grooming tips, including whether or not you can bathe your bunny.
To clean your rabbit’s feet, you’ll need the following supplies:
Bring your bunny and your supplies into a quiet, safe space away from other pets or people (except your assistant).
How To Clean a Rabbit’s Feet:
1. Hold Your Rabbit Safely And Comfortably
Ideally, your rabbit is already used to being handled by people. If that’s the case, you may be able to allow them to sit comfortably in your lap while you clean their feet. Place a towel down first to keep your clothes dry.
If your rabbit is nervous or not used to being handled, you will need to proceed with more caution. Frightened rabbits can easily hurt their owners or themselves by kicking with their hind legs.
To keep your rabbit safe, enlist the help of a trusted assistant familiar with proper bunny handling. The assistant can safely hold the bunny, supporting their back and keeping all four feet under control. For extra safety, try wrapping your bunny securely in a towel, leaving just enough space to reach the feet.
Don’t hold your rabbit on their back, even if you’ve heard that this will put them in a “trance” and make cleaning their feet easier. Studies have shown that this technique is stressful and scary for the rabbit and should be avoided unless necessary for medical procedures.
2. Use a Wet Cloth For Cleaning
Once your rabbit is comfortable and held safely, you can start the cleaning process.
Wet a soft cloth in warm water and use it to wipe your rabbit’s feet clean. Scrub gently if needed and repeat until your rabbit’s feet are free of debris. Work quickly but calmly to keep the procedure as stress-free as possible for your bunny.
3. Use Rabbit Shampoo To Spot Clean
If your bunny’s feet are stained from urine or other debris, water alone may not be enough to get them clean. In this case, you can use shampoo formulated for rabbits for additional cleaning power. Lather the shampoo into your rabbit’s fur to help soak up urine stains.
Rinse off all shampoo once your rabbit’s feet are clean to avoid any skin irritation. You could also use a rabbit-safe comb.
4. Dry Your Rabbit’s Feet
Once your rabbit’s feet are clean, use a fresh towel to pat them dry. Make sure the feet are no longer damp before you put the rabbit back into their enclosure, or they’ll quickly get dirty again.
5. Reward Your Rabbit With Treats
Once your rabbit’s feet are clean, reward them with a tasty treat such as safe fruits or vegetables. Treats could also be used to distract your rabbit during the cleaning process. If they’re busy nibbling, they may stay calmer.
6. Try To Prevent Further Dirty Feet
Because cleaning can be stressful even for well-socialized rabbits, do your best to prevent their feet from getting dirty in the first place. The best way to do this is to keep their cage or hutch as clean as possible. Spot clean your rabbit cage daily and do a deep clean at least once a week.
Not only does a dirty rabbit cage smell and soil your bunny’s feet, but it’s also unsafe and can lead to health concerns for your pet. While you can’t prevent every instance of soiled fur, keeping a clean cage should reduce the amount of rabbit cleaning you need to accomplish.
Other Grooming Tips For Your Rabbit
To help keep your rabbit healthy, follow these regular grooming routines. Brush your rabbit regularly to remove dead hair and prevent mats. Rabbits shed just like dogs and cats and can give themselves hairballs from grooming.
Keep your rabbit’s nails trimmed so they don’t get snagged and ripped. Check your rabbit’s eyes and ears regularly and clean them as needed.
Besides keeping their feet clean, pay close attention to your bunny’s rear and tail area. Caked on pee and poop can lead to health problems like skin irritation or infection.
Spot clean as needed, but never give your rabbit a bath.
Bathing is extremely stressful for rabbits and could cause them to go into shock. They could also injure themselves by thrashing around to escape.
Your veterinarian or their staff can assist you in learning to handle your bunny’s basic grooming care. They can usually also perform some tasks, such as nail trimming, for you if you’re concerned.
Cleaning a rabbit’s feet is a bit more complicated than it is for other pets, simply because of the delicate nature of the beasts. However, with patience and planning, it can be done safely. Keep your rabbit’s enclosure tidy and hopefully, their feet will stay the same. If not, these 6 steps we outlined can help you get your rabbit’s feet clean with as little stress as possible.
Featured Image Credit: ZouZou, Shutterstock