How to Clean your Rabbit

How do you clean a soiled rabbit? Most of the time, the rabbit will take care of all the cleaning itself and you shouldn’t interfere. However, for the safety of your bun there are times when you have to. Every one of us with pet rabbits has probably witnessed runny or soft stool that got stuck to the bottom. It happens and most of the time bunnies will still take care of it. When we first adopted Bunny, he was very dirty and his fur all around his genitals was matted and crusted with poo. Probably sore, too. Poor Bunny, he couldn’t clean himself in those spots, because he wasn’t able to reach them. He constantly tried, though. Being dirty obviously made him uncomfortable and we knew we had to do something.

First of all, if your rabbit is dirty down there and doesn’t clean it up, don’t just leave him, hoping he will clean himself at some point. All kinds of insects, including flies, could lay their eggs in your pet’s fur, which is gross and dangerous. Anyway, as a first solution you can take a wet washcloth or baby wipe and carefully clean the rabbit’s bottom with it. For lightly soiled areas that has proven to be a great solution, but at the time Bunny was just too dirty.

Rabbits should not be given a bath unless absolutely necessary. They do not like the water and being in a tub only causes stress. And even when giving rabbits a bath, they should never get completely wet, because a wet bunny can easily catch a cold and worse, since they dry so slowly. Looking at Bunny, I decided that “absolutely necessary” described his condition quite nicely, though. So I filled our bathtub with less than an inch of lukewarm water, placed a towel at the bottom so Bunny wouldn’t slip, and put him on top. I let the fur on his bottom soak in the water for  a bit before using a washcloth to clean him further. Did he enjoy it? No, I’m sure he didn’t. But he stayed calm and let me try to wipe off the poo gently. Did it work? No. It turned the bathtub into a disgusting mess and it made Bunny’s bottom wet, but the fur was so dirty that the water only made it worse. I quickly wrapped him up in a dry towel and kept the house warm to keep him from getting sick.

Needless to say, I do not recommend a wet bath for rabbits and will not attempt it again. If you do, please be aware that shampoos or soap are not necessary. If you do want to use some, only mild unscented baby shampoo is recommended.

The better solution for us was the dry bath. You grab a towel and put your bunny carefully in a position where you can reach the soiled area. Personally, I like to hold Bunny on my lap, always careful to support his spine, and keep him calm while my husband does the work. Add a small amount of cornstarch to the soiled area (try not to throw any in your pet’s face) and gently massage it in. Cornstarch can be found in the baby section at the store and it is similar to baby powder. Please only use pure unscented cornstarch and not baby powder, as the latter may harm your rabbit’s respiratory system. You may need to add more cornstarch at some point, but the dirt should easily come out of the fur after a while. Just gently slide or brush it out. Since the cornstarch absorbs moisture, it will also feel good to your bunny to have the wet, possibly sore area covered in the soothing powder.

Can you imagine us sitting on the floor, pinning poor little Bunny down, and massaging cornstarch into his fur? Yeah.

Our Bunny actually needed some of his fur cut off in addition to the dry bath, because he had been dirty for so long that we weren’t able to clean it all. If you have to do that, be aware that their skin is extremely thin. Use rounded baby nail scissors if necessary and whatever you do, do it gently! Also, never cut off the fur on his feet, as that serves as padding. If all else fails, invest the money and let the vet help you.

If your rabbit gets a runny or soft stool regularly, you may need to rethink its diet, because that just shouldn’t happen. It could also be an indication that your pet has dental issues, doesn’t eat enough fibre (found in hay or grass), or has too much stress. Since they are such small animals, any kind of water-loss can be dangerous and even fatal. If you are unsure what caused the indigestion, call your vet immediately.

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Author: Bunny Approved

11 Comments

  1. Danielle
    Danielle On August 2, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    I have a bunny that was partially paralyzed (and had a blind bunny) and would have their hind end’s covered in urine and caked stools. I would give a “bunny butt-bath” only when necessary. In the kitchen (sprayer on low-pressure was great) or bathroom sink I would cradle them on their backs (or football style w/ chest and abdomen supported on an arm and feet hanging from hand) and use plain castile soap to wash off the offending matter. I was hesitant to use baby shampoo due to the perfumes and all of the added chemicals…just in case. This kept fresh water coming constantly and it was easy to concentrate on only the soiled areas and keep the vast majority of bunny dry. It was good for rinsing purposes too so there was no soap residue left for the hoppers to lick and get sick from.
    PS: a good scrubbing of the sink w/ cleanser or bleach is a must after bunny is all finished:)

  2. Lynn Bailey
    Lynn Bailey On August 4, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I also use the *bunny butt bath* and you described it perfectly!! I did, however, (after much reading) decide to give my lionhead a bath bath- we have fleas here in So Calif and I had my (not cheap) Revolution ready for both boys but my lionhead just had alot of flea *muckies* – Dawn dish soap is safe, mild and also kills fleas. So armed with this knowledge I dressed in a beach cover-up type thing and with everything preset – grabbed my son and stepped into the tub – they suggested putting a *wreath* of soap around bunnys neck to stop fleas from running to face and ears but the water was filling slowly i had him between my legs with his head and front paws on my upper thigh and did more of a waist wreath. he relaxed right away – seemed to know it was okay and felt better im sure- I just kept his lower body in water – used sprayer attachment so I could lather, massage and rinse and was able to get so much accomplished – let water out slowly and grabbed dry towel and with me dripping and him bundled we went and sat down while I fluff dried him with the towel and then brushed and slow warm setting on my hair dryer – got him almost dry – he finally did a little nip and I knew he was over it!! he ran to the litterbox – went potty and then finished *fixing* himself. That evening I put Revolution on each boy and am very pleased with the whole adventure – for me – I would give my bunny a bath again – but the shower sprayer attachment was KEY to the whole bath success. check out YouTube and see all the bunnies that love to swim!! So cute to watch – don’t have a pool – not sure if I’d try it!!

  3. Jen
    Jen On February 9, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    There is no “absolutely necessary” when it comes to allowing water to soak through a rabbit’s fur to the skin. It should never be done. It’s not about the rabbit getting a cold. The rabbit can get hypothermia and/or go into shock, and may end up killing your rabbit. Those “absolutely necessary” to bathe situations mean using a lukewarm damp towel and gently scrubbing the area, being careful not to use more water than necessary. If that’s not enough to clean the area, THAT’S when you use baby cornstarch and a fine comb. And do not lie the rabbit down onto it’s back. They are not relaxed like that, that is a stressful position, and they are reacting out of fear in a predatory situation. Have someone hold the rabbit with it’s back against their chest.
    I know this is a very late response, but just in case anybody in this situation is seeing this.

    • Bunny Approved
      Bunny Approved On February 10, 2014 at 8:55 am

      There are cases where it is necessary. We know rabbits that needed to be cleaned almost daily due to disabilities/old age. They had urine and feces on their fur and skin. In those cases it was recommended by a vet to use water on the soiled areas only while holding the rabbit. A damp towel might help when the rabbit is only a little dirty and doesn’t clean up itself (which it should).

  4. Sarah
    Sarah On June 23, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Okay. Taking this into consideration. My rabbit has fleas. My dogs had terrible fleas and they were on my bed before i realized just how bad it was. From time to time I place her on my bed with me and let her run around on my bed. But now she has fleas and i can tell it bothers her. I wantto bather her to get rid of the fleas. I have a plan on using Dawn Dish Soap. The original blue one that is unscented. I’m not sure if i should do this, if it will affect her and or harm her. I love my rabbit but my parents do not and if something were to happen she wouldnt be taken to a vet. I want to prevent any harm and or shock from happening to my rabbit. What should i do?

    • Bunny Approved
      Bunny Approved On June 23, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Sarah, I sent you an e-mail! Please do not wash your rabbit with dish soap! Let me know if you didn’t get the message with my suggestions.

      • Poo
        Poo On November 11, 2015 at 1:23 pm

        I’m confused as to whether I should bathe my Luna she is dirty on the underneath and I’m scared she’s not healthy my parents won’t take her to the vet because they say she doesn’t need to go there what should I do?!!

        • Bunny Approved
          Bunny Approved On November 11, 2015 at 10:03 pm

          You don’t bathe your rabbit as you would a dog or yourself. Most of the rabbit should stay dry! If you do need to clean her bottom, hold her gently while using a wet towel or the stream of luke-warm water (on the dirty spot only) to get the poop off. If it’s dry it might be easier to carefully cut it with blunt tipped scissors – but rabbit skin is very thin, so be careful! It’s best to have someone help you. If Luna has this often, you might want to reconsider her diet. Most of it should be fresh hay with only a small amount of Timothy based pellets (I assume you feed pellets). Not the pellets with seeds and colorful things in them, but the plain green ones. Fresh greens should also be offered daily.
          Should Luna stop eating or pooping or if she seems in pain, you definitely need to contact a rabbit-savvy vet quickly. Rabbits hide their pain instinctively, so if you notice anything unusual, it can be a sign of something much worse.

        • BunnyLover
          BunnyLover On April 21, 2016 at 3:05 pm

          I am very confused about bath of my rabbits, i got 2 rabbits from my uncle on my birthday and they are very sweet and soft but while cleaning them i am not sure how to bath them…which products and the way i bathe them. I want them secure and clean because my neighbors loves to play with them. I hope you help me with tips and in future i will help others too.

          • Bunny Approved
            Bunny Approved On April 21, 2016 at 4:29 pm

            You don’t need to bathe them. They clean themselves. Only very rarely should they have poop stuck anywhere and in that case you can hold the bun while someone else rinses the soiled part only. No products and don’t get the whole rabbit wet – only the soiled spot. If that happens often, you might want to consider changing the diet.

  5. rabbit man
    rabbit man On February 19, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Yah but my rabbits are not at all staying at single place either playing too much or sleeping to much what to do now can you help admin ?

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