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.