Grooming Rabbits

It is important to groom a rabbit regularly, and particularly during periods when they shed their coats, to prevent hairballs occurring when the rabbit grooms itself.

Grooming The Coat

Rabbits groom themselves by licking their coats and like cats they can get hairballs if they ingest too much hair when grooming themselves. Therefore it is important to groom a rabbit regularly to prevent matting, keep the coat in good condition and remove loose hair so as to prevent hairballs.

Short haired rabbits will normally only require grooming once a week, but long haired rabbits will need daily grooming. However, rabbits shed their coat every 3 months and the shedding period can last from one day to approximately 2 weeks. Sometimes the shedding may be heavy and other times the shedding may be light but during these periods the rabbit will require more frequent grooming to remove loose hair.

When grooming a rabbit it is best to place the rabbit on a towel on your lap, rather than on a table or other surface where the rabbit may try and jump off. Use a soft or medium bristle brush or grooming mitt for short haired rabbits and a slicker brush or comb on long haired rabbits, being careful not to scratch or tear the rabbit's delicate skin as you groom. The coat should be gently brushed over the top and underneath which will mean laying the rabbit on its back. During grooming pay particular attention to areas that are prone to matting such as around the neck, armpits, and tail.

If mats are found in the rabbit's coat these should not be combed or pulled out which can cause the rabbit pain, but should be gently teased apart with your fingers before brushing. If too matted to tease apart then any mats can be cut off, but be careful not to cut the rabbit's skin.

Nails

A rabbit's nails continually grow and because pet rabbits don't dig and wear their nails down naturally they can become sharp and uncomfortable for the rabbit so will require trimming on a regular basis.

This is best done with the aid of a helper to hold the rabbit, and can be made easier by wrapping the rabbit in a towel with just the foot being trimmed exposed. The rabbit's claw has a quick or vein running part way down and it is important that the claw is not cut so short as to cut through the quick as this will cause the nail to bleed and be painful for the rabbit. On rabbits with light coloured nails the quick is fairly easily seen, but on rabbits with dark coloured claws the quick can be difficult to see but may be eaiser to see when a small flashlight is shone on it. Once the quick is located cut just below it using a pair of dog or cat nail clippers.

More About Rabbits