If you need to help your bunny with grooming tasks, you may be wondering if you can take them to the groomers.
A groomer specializing in small animals like rabbits is unlikely to be giving your bunny a shampoo, wash, and dry unless they’re heading to the show ring for judging! So two questions generally arise; Can rabbits go to the groomers? and What do they do with rabbits at the groomers?
Rabbits can go to the groomers, however, it is essential to use a groomer who understands rabbit care. Rabbits should not be fully bathed, rather, brushed, fur trimmed, nails clipped, scent glands cleaned and eyes and ears checked.
This article will explain when and why a rabbit may need to go to the groomers and what to expect from a rabbit groomer.
Can Rabbits Go to the Groomers?
When many people think of the groomers, the first image that comes to mind is a fluffy dog getting shampooed. They then get rinsed down and dried, leaving them smelling absolutely irresistible. By the time you pick them up, they look fabulous, complete with a pink hair bow.
Don’t expect this when you send your rabbit to the groomers.
Grooming for rabbits is divided into two main sections. These include both self-grooming and extrinsic grooming.
Rabbit Self Grooming
Self-grooming is what your rabbit can do to clean themselves, like when they lick their fur.
Hopefully, your rabbit enjoys the great outdoors now and then. But frolicking about outside might mean your rabbit gets a little dusty or muddy, and to remove the dirt and other debris embedded in their fur, you’ll see your rabbit grooming themselves by licking their coat.
Rabbits will also groom to clear irritants from their eyes and face, and sometimes parasites like fleas, ticks, mites and lice (we’ll discuss these unwanted critters in another article). You can see a rabbit grooming their ears in this short video below:
Rabbit Extrinsic Grooming
Rabbit extrinsic grooming refers to grooming activities that your rabbit cannot do. For instance, in the wild, rabbits dig their burrows in the dirt, and this instinctive behavior helps keep their nails short. On the other hand, domesticated rabbits who do not have access to a scratching mat are likely to require you to intervene from time to time and cut their nails slightly shorter.
Rabbits with long coats may need to be regularly trimmed, to avoid matting and the risk of GI stasis from overconsumption of fur.
Your rabbit may also have difficulty cleaning their own scent glands. Whilst you can do this yourself, some people prefer not to, which is where rabbit and exotic animal groomers come in.
What Services Do Rabbit Groomers Offer?
The main services offered by rabbit groomers are:
- Full Coat Brushing
- Matted Fur Removal
- Nail Clipping
- Eye and Ear Cleaning
- Coat Trimming either with scissors or clippers
- Trimming of fur for sanitary reasons
- Scent gland cleaning
- Butt bathing
Understanding Your Rabbit’s Temperament When Grooming
Grooming can affect the nature and temperament of your rabbit. A rabbits degree of cleanliness can be influenced by its irritation levels, much like humans. Let’s try and paint a bit of perspective.
Imagine you, as a human, have not cut your nails or showered for the past month. You wouldn’t exactly feel great now, would you? Now decrease your size by about 50 and think about how uncomfortable a dirty and ungroomed rabbit must feel.
Rabbits require you to play a pivotal role in their lives. This activity includes more than just feeding them. It means giving them the degree of comfort they deserve and can consist of brushing their fur, cutting their nails, and assessing their overall welfare, such as checking for any injuries or skin health.
How You Can Help Your Rabbit With Grooming
What happens if rabbits don’t groom themselves or aren’t particular about keeping themselves nice? This situation is where you can play a role.
By ensuring that you perform acts like brushing your rabbit’s fur, you will help them get rid of shedding hair, any unnecessary parasites and dead skin cells that would have made your rabbit a bit more irritable than usual.
By making sure that you do regular check-ups with your rabbit, you will be ensuring that their nails don’t cause them, or you, preventable pain. Good rabbit husbandry also extends further to changing their litter boxes regularly. So let’s chat through a few examples.
Regular Litter Box Cleaning
When rabbits poop and urinate, and you don’t regularly clean out their litter box, your rabbit could well be sitting in areas of acidity. This premise could cause a urinary tract infection (UTI) to develop, necessitating veterinary care. Urine can also scald your rabbits skin, and stain their fur.
Consequently, maintaining a good litter box cleaning regime could prevent UTIs from occurring, and painful urine burn on your rabbits skin.
Inspecting Your Rabbits Ears
After changing their litter box, you want to inspect their ears. You want to make sure that the outer ears of your rabbits are free of wax. This routine is essential if you have a Lop rabbit (a breed with drooping ears), as wax build-up is a precursor to ear infection and inflammation.
Rabbit Nail Trimming
Cutting their nails at least once a month will ensure that they do not snag on different materials, leave you with cuts as you hold them, or harbor nail bed infections.
Brushing Your Rabbit
The next consideration is to develop a routine to brush your rabbit once every three days. This practice helps to remove loose hair and prevents the coat from becoming matted. Furthermore, it will ensure that your rabbit’s shedding cycles are easier to handle. Finally, a decent but gentle brush is an excellent way to bond with your bunny.
Another way you can assist your rabbit with grooming is by not washing them as you would wash your hair. Unfortunately, a rabbit’s thermoregulatory system is way too sensitive. A simple temperature difference could put their hearts into shock, and they could die. This is commonly known as rabbit bath shock.
Remember, self-grooming for rabbits is the same as humans washing our hair (that’s got to be a good thing that we aren’t required to lick ourselves to keep in ship-shape condition!).
Interestingly, the saliva of rabbits contains enzymes with cleaning properties, so self-grooming is a good sign. However, be aware that rabbits can over-groom themselves for several reasons, like anxiety or boredom (we’ll discuss this behavior in another article).
How Grooming Affects Your Rabbit’s Health
You will find that the more often your rabbit grooms themselves, the happier they will be when you help them with those hard-to-do tasks.
Not only that, but it is a fantastic way to get to know your bunny on a deeper level. It, to an extent, also encourages you to spend more time with your four-legged friend, which can only be a good thing!
What Are the Main Benefits of Rabbit Grooming?
Not only will you ensure that your rabbit doesn’t pick up an infection, but you will also be able to establish a stronger bond with your rabbit. The more time you spend together, the more content you will be with each other.
Rabbits won’t necessarily tell you when there is a tangle in their fur or that they are in pain. However, by performing more regular check-ups on your rabbit, you can catch problems before they require a vet visit.
Being vigilant with your rabbit’s welfare might also mean saving money on vet expenses. Although, no doubt your rabbit could help you spend the money wisely elsewhere, like on treats, a new scratching mat, or even a more advanced rabbit-friendly drinking fountain (that’s one lucky bunny!).
In return, you’ll get lots of love and affection! Your rabbit deserves the best possible life you can afford to give to it.
What Problems Can Arise With Incorrect Grooming?
There are many different scented shampoos and powders available to the rabbit owner that claim to be ethically sourced and approved by specialists. Please do not trust them and only source grooming products from reputable rabbit-care professionals.
Additionally, ensure that you seek professional advice from a qualified veterinarian or professional pet groomer. Whenever you find yourself doubting anything, give them a call. They are always there to help!
Rabbits have very thin and delicate skin. If you are trimming their fur, be very careful if cutting close to the skin. Also, try not to remove any fur from the bottoms of rabbits feet. This can cause them to develop sore hocks.
As a rabbit owner, you will probably find that routinely brushing your rabbit is not too challenging. However, if you are not confident in brushing your rabbit, trimming their nails, or cleaning their ears, then consider engaging a pet groomer who specializes in rabbit care.
A pet groomer may even be prepared to teach you how best to groom your rabbit. You may also have a rabbit that requires a coat clip from time to time, and again a rabbit groomer is an excellent resource.
Making sure that you groom your rabbit frequently not only can prolong its lifespan but enables your interactions to be more comfortable. Knowing you can pat your bunny freely without encountering a knot of tangled fur or being required to circumvent overgrown nails has got to be a good thing for you both!
A healthy and clean bunny makes a happy bunny, and you both deserve to be happy and enjoy each other’s company!