No matter what kind of pet you have, you’ve got to take steps to help them keep clean. Even rabbits!
But there’s some controversy circulating over whether or not you should actually give a rabbit a bath.
Some people say that rabbits are fastidiously clean and don’t need them. Others say that giving a rabbit a bath can actually be harmful or even fatal!
What’s the real story? Can you give your bunny a bath?
Yes, you can bathe a bunny, but you must do so cautiously. Rabbits easily suffer from shock when immersed which can prove fatal, and accidents during bathing can easily result in injuries.
If you’re going to give a bunny a bath, you’ve got to do it right and take all precautions to prevent accident and it keep the bunny from panicking or going into shock.
It’s also true that rabbits, like cats, tend to stay fastidiously clean and they don’t need baths as often as other animals. Keep reading and I’ll tell you everything you need to know…
Can a Bath Kill a Bunny?
Yes, it can. Rabbits are extremely vulnerable to shock when they go into the water.
Cool temperatures will easily send a rabbit into hypothermia, and their general fear of water can stress them out to the point where they hyperventilate and basically collapse.
Together, these two effects can prove fatal.
Something else to consider is a rabbit may suffer from and even die from hypothermia a good while later after the bath is over: their dense fur takes a long time to dry out, and combined with their thin skin a rabbit can get chilled easily.
If you want to safely give your rabbit a bath, you’ve got to do it right and take all necessary precautions. More on that in a bit.
Won’t Bunnies Get Dirty and Smelly without a Bath?
Yes, they can, especially if they’ve got diarrhea or are living in really filthy conditions. But aside from those two things, rabbits actually stay surprisingly clean.
Much like cats, rabbits spend an awful lot of time engaging in grooming behavior, getting dirt and debris off of their fur, and keeping themselves more or less fresh and tidy.
This isn’t to say that your rabbit never needs attention from you in order to stay clean and hygienic, but they definitely don’t get as dirty as most people think (assuming you’re taking care of their surroundings).
You Can Keep Your Bunny Clean without a Full Bath
More importantly, it is possible to practically keep your rabbit clean, hygienic and fresh without exposing them to the dangers of an actual bath.
This will be much easier and safer for the rabbit, and also quicker and easier for you, so it is a win-win.
The easiest way to do this is simply to spot-clean your rabbit with a warm, moist cloth.
This lets you tackle trouble areas without precipitously lowering a rabbit’s body temperature or soaking their fur from head to tail.
And much of the time, simply brushing out your rabbit with an appropriate comb is enough to help them stay fresh.
A good rule of thumb is to brush them regularly and it makes sure you keep their cage or pen totally clean and let your rabbit do the rest, resorting to a spot cleaning only when they really need it.
What is a Dry Bath for Rabbits?
One of the very best options for keeping your rabbit scrupulously clean, if you don’t want to let them handle it themselves, is to give them a dry bath.
A dry bath, sometimes called a dust bath, is it similar to the practice that chinchillas engage in although you need a different product for rabbits.
All you need to do is get your hands on some talc-free baby powder or cornstarch and a good comb or brush that is suitable for rabbit fur.
Taking care of to avoid getting any of the dust around the mouth or nose of your rabbit, you can massage the dust into your rabbit’s fur and then brush it out.
You can then use a clean, dry cloth to wipe them down when you’re done to clean up the excess dust.
This works wonders for keeping your rabbit smelling completely fresh, and in conjunction with their own grooming, will all but completely eliminate the need for a traditional bath except in the case where they get truly filthy.
Sometimes, though, that latter outcome is unavoidable. I will tell you how to give your rabbit a bath safely if it comes to that in the following section.
If You Have to Bathe Your Rabbit You Must Be Careful
It’s far easier to harm your rabbit when bathing than you might think. Do the following to reduce risks and make sure that your bunny’s bath time is a reasonably pleasant and safe experience…
1. Use Lukewarm Water
This will prevent your rabbit from chilling and then going into hypothermia.
2. Only Put an Inch or Two of Water in the Tub
You never, ever want your money to feel like he has to swim for it or that the water could be over his head. Rabbits generally detest getting in the water anyway, and deep water will easily panic them.
3. Place a Towel or Pad in the Tub
If your bunny has secure footing and isn’t slipping, he will be a lot calmer. If he starts to slip, he will panic and try to jump out.
4. Stir Bunny-safe Shampoo into the Water
Only use specially formulated bunny-safe shampoo for bath time. Other formulations and human shampoo are going to be way too harsh on their fur and more importantly on their skin.
Don’t put the shampoo directly on the rabbit, and instead swirl it into the water to make a sort of bubble bath.
5. Change Out Water to Rinse
Drain and replace the water with fresh water for rinsing following the same process above…
6. Carefully Blow-Dry on Low
With your bunny rinsed, blot off as much water as you can with a towel and then carefully blow dry them with a blow dryer set to low. Be careful not to burn your rabbit’s sensitive skin.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.