Can you give your rabbit a bath… No, but there are alternative options!
You will find hundreds of videos, images and articles on the internet about giving your rabbit a bath. All of these things are made by pet owners that do not know how to properly care for their rabbit. Rabbits are delicate animals, stress easily and do not like to be wet.
- 1 Rabbits hair – Why you shouldn’t give your rabbit a bath!
- 2 Rabbits three types of hair or “fur”
- 3 Dangerous of giving your rabbit a bath
- 4 Rabbit bath alternatives
- 5 Rabbits must be allowed to groom
- 6 Keep your rabbit clean
Rabbits hair – Why you shouldn’t give your rabbit a bath!
Rabbits have an amazing fur coat, it keeps them dry, protects them and keeps them warm. When we give a rabbit a bath it destroys what nature intended and makes the rabbit feel uncomfortable in the least.
Imagine wearing sweatshirt, a t-shirt and then an under shirt and having someone completely soak you all the way through and having to wear that until it dried out naturally. I am sure this would make anyone very unhappy and uncomfortable. I believe this is how a rabbit may feel if it is given a bath only they do not have the mental ability to know that they will be okay since they live indoors.
If they lived in the wild and became soaked they would most likely freeze to death even at moderate temperatures, loose there skin protection and camouflaging abilities. Can you see why rabbits hate bathes? It leaves them scared and vulnerable.
Rabbits three types of hair or “fur”
Rabbits have three types of hair that makes up their fur or coat.
- Guide Hairs
- Guard Hairs
Guide hairs are very long and rough. This is part of your rabbits external hairs that you can easily see. These hairs are strong and stiff and provide no other function than to give guard hairs something to grow around and hold on to. So the guide hairs “guide” the direction of growth for the guard hairs.
Guard hairs, also sometimes called “barb hair”, grow around the guide hairs. Approximately four guard hairs will grow up and around every single guide hair. The guard hairs tightly weave themselves together creating a seal or waterproof, dirt-proof and mostly anything proof coat. The important thing to remember is that nothing should be getting past this layer of rabbit hair.
Down hair is the type of hair that is below the guide and guard hairs. It is suppose to always be protected from water, dirt and anything else. There are about 60 down hairs to every guide hair. Rabbit down is short and about as fluffy as can be. This traps warm, dry air from there body and keeps them comfortable and warm.
These tree types of rabbit hair make up what we call fur.
What happens to a rabbits hair during a bath?
Well, it completely mixes all their hairs up, gets water, soap, dirt and minerals from the water where it should never be at, in there down and on their skin. Rabbits instincts are to groom themselves, not to get a bath!
Dangerous of giving your rabbit a bath
As you found out rabbits are not made to be soaking wet. With that being said some rabbits will tolerate a bath but that does not mean you should do it. Here is a list of the ill-effects of giving your rabbit a bath.
- Death – Some rabbits may go into shock and die if they are given a bath. Hypothermia is also a risk when you give your rabbit a bath or get them to wet.
- Broken Trust – Your rabbit trusts you, or should trust you. If you give him or her a bath you will break that trust and may end up with a rabbit that sees you as an enemy.
- Stress – Rabbits are a prey animal, meaning other animals are always trying to kill them. This makes rabbits by nature a bit high strung and nervous. Adding more stress to their life by giving them a bath is not a healthy thing for your pet.
- Skin Problems – When you give a rabbit a bath the water, soap and even the minerals in the water end up on the rabbits skin and in its down hair or fur. This can cause skin irritation, rashes and possibly worse.
- Injury – Most rabbits are deathly afraid of water and being wet, not all but most. If your rabbit panics during a bath and trys to escape he or she could end up injuring themselves while trying to get away.
Rabbit bath alternatives
Sometimes rabbits do make a bit of a mess or maybe they had the diarrhea (which they shouldn’t). Rabbits also molt (shed) about three times a year or about every three months. Molting creates a lot of extra fur and hair around the house. Here are a few ways to clean your rabbit without giving him or her a bath.
- Wet Hand – A lot of times when my rabbit (Mr. Bunny) is molt and I want to pull all of the loose hairs off of him I will dampen my hands with some water and pet him all over. The loose hair will then cling to my hands as I pet him. After I am done I wash my hands and all the hair goes down the drain. I will say he dose get a little ticked after I am done because he is slightly damp but it works well and doesn’t cause him any real discomfort.
- Trimming – If you have a long haired breed of rabbit keep their hair trimmed to about one inch or so.
- Brushing – A quality rabbit brush is essential to keeping a good looking, well cared for rabbit. Brush them one a week to keep loose fur from invading your house.
- Butt Bath – If your rabbit has a dirty butt the slightly dampen his or her but with a few mists of water. Let the water sit for a minute or two and them try to wipe away any dirt or poop.
In the above video you can learn how to give your rabbit a butt bath if needed. This should only be used if your rabbit is very dirty and you have no other options!
Rabbits must be allowed to groom
Rabbits generally keep themselves clean and will stay clean unless they live in a dirty cage. An important and mostly unknown fact about rabbits is that they must ingest some of there own hair for their health.
When people are outside we absorb vitamin D from the sun through our skin. Rabbits have no exposed skin so their fur absorbs the vitamin D, then they groom themselves and ingest the hair with the vitamin D in it.
The point I am trying to make is that you do not want to brush your rabbit daily, only weekly so they can groom and absorb their vitamin D.