Most of the time, a rabbit will clean itself. In fact, most bunnies spend a good deal of the day making sure they are spotless. As a general rule, it’s best to brush the fur, clean the scent glands, and trim the nails regularly, but to let the rabbit take care of the rest.
Sometimes poop gets stuck to the fur, especially if your rabbit has long fuzzy hair. If the rabbit doesn’t clean it up on its own, you are going to have to help to prevent infections and worse. You can usually remove it by hand or cut it out carefully with round-tipped scissors. A damp washcloth might work, too. If the poop is really caked into the fur, consider rubbing a small amount of unscented corn starch powder into the soiled area (it’s in the baby aisle but it’s not the same as baby powder). It helps loosen up the poop and you can often take the poop out by hand shortly. The best way to do this is to securely hold the rabbit while supporting the back and have someone else do the grooming. If that isn’t possible, hold the rabbit upright with one hand while the hind legs are still on the ground and the back is leaning against your chest and groom with the other hand.
While a poopy bunny butt is something that can occur occasionally, it’s not normal if it happens regularly. Figuring out the causes can help prevent future instances and reduce the stress in your bunny’s life – and yours.
Rabbits that live in small spaces often have very little room to stretch out. They end up sitting or even sleeping in their litter box for comfort, which can soil their paws and get poop stuck to their fur. In such circumstances even the cleanest rabbit will have a hard time keeping itself spotless. A bigger playpen or even a room/house to free range in would be the solution. Make sure there are comfortable spots for the rabbit to sleep on (towels, fleece blankets) as well as a litter box and a play area.If your rabbit has enough space and still likes to sleep in the litter box, try experimenting with different pet beds, towels, and blankets until you find one your bun approves.
Any changes in a rabbit’s diet can cause their poop to get soft. If you suddenly increased the amount of fresh greens or picked a different brand of pellets without slowly switching over, this could have upset the rabbit’s system. Go back to the regular diet and make gradual changes instead. One new thing at a time. If there haven’t been any changes, it could be that your rabbit’s diet is not ideal in the first place. Maybe you are feeding too many pellets or unhealthy treats. Or maybe your rabbit has a reaction to a particular vegetable his body can’t digest correctly. Consult your vet to adjust the diet accordingly.
Soft poop or diarrhea can be caused by a variety of bacteria and diseases. Bring a sample of poop to your vet and ask them to investigate. It should cost less than $50 and give you insight or peace of mind.
A rabbit that is overweight and/or doesn’t get a lot of exercise can develop a poopy butt for two reasons. One, exercise keeps the digestive system going and inactivity can therefore interfere. Two, your bun might not be able to clean himself due to being too chubby. A slow change in the diet with a vet’s help and extra activity should do the trick.
Giving rabbits a bath is usually unnecessary and not a good idea unless there is a medical reason for it. First of all, it causes a lot of stress and anxiety and rabbits don’t deal well with stress. They can even die from it it severe cases. Also, rabbits don’t dry very quickly and have a hard time maintaining their body temperature when they are wet. That can be dangerous! Maybe you know a rabbit that was given a bath and didn’t die or get sick from it, but why cause discomfort and increase the risks dramatically when it’s not necessary?
Recently, there have been a number of “cute” videos with rabbits that are given a bath. Please know that placing a rabbit on their back and soaking them in water is not cute and they do not enjoy it. In fact, they are probably scared stiff. Literally! Rabbits fall into a trance while on their backs out of fear – an instinct that comes in handy in the wild. They might get a chance to escape if the predator thinks they are already dead. You don’t want to cause such stress to your pet bunny, though!
That being said, if your vet recommends a bath due to disabilities or for other medical reasons, you might have to bathe your bun after all. However, this should mean that you are holding your bun securely in your arms. Support the back and clean the soiled area (usually the genitals/butt) only under slow-running luke-warm water. Get as little as possible of the rabbit wet. Just enough to clean the area. Soap is not necessary at all. Once the rabbit is clean, wrap it in a towel and keep the room at a warm temperature until your rabbit is dry. The goal should be to make this as stress-free as possible.