Rabbit nails grow to be
very long and sharp. Using a pair of dog nail trimmers, you
can clip the nails to a proper length. On light colored
nails, the quick (blood vein) is easy to see. Trim about one
eighth of an inch beyond quick. Dark colored nails are
harder to see. It is helpful to hold the rabbit’s foot up to
a bright light.
People are often afraid to
clip their rabbit’s nails for fear that they will cause the
rabbit to bleed. If this happens, use Kwik Stop on the toe
or apply pressure with a cotton ball until the bleeding
stops. Be sure to remember that rabbits have a dewclaw
higher up on their front legs. Their nails should be clipped
about every 6 – 8 weeks. If you are not comfortable doing
this yourself, your vet or Rabbit Haven can do this for you.
Check the soles of each
rear foot for bald or sore spots. The hair on the heels can
wear off and result in sores. This is usually the result of
living on a wire floor. It can also be due to an overweight
or heavy rabbit living on a hard or rough surface.
Pasteurella (a virus) can easily infect these sores. See a
vet immediately. Check each toe and, if you find a broken
nail, trim it and be sure it heals properly. You can rinse
the nail with Hydrogen Peroxide.
Check to make sure that
they are properly aligned. Top teeth should be directly in
line with the bottom teeth and they should come slightly
over the bottom teeth. They should be white and free from
Rabbits can have a little
crust like substance in the corners of their eyes. This is
common. Simply remove with a damp Q-Tip. Their eyes should
be bright and clear with no sign of discharge in the
eyelashes, tear ducts or under the eye. The lids should not
The smaller dwarf breeds have more protruding eyes and will
often develop a tissue like substance that floats on their
eye. Because of the shape of their eye, they can not blink
this off by themselves. You will need to remove it for them.
If necessary, use artificial tears such as Bosch & Lomb
eyewash (Visine is very irritating to bunny eyes.) One drop
in each eye should help remove the matter. Often you can use
a dampened Q-Tip and gently lift the matter off of the eye.
This should be done daily.
Check inside ears to be
sure that they are clean and free of mites. Mites will
produce a brownish waxy substance and the ears will look
Look for a clean, dry nose.
If there is moisture of a "snotty" substance in the nose,
see your vet immediately. This could be a sign of
Pasteurella. Even if the rabbit is not sneezing and you see
moisture, check the inside of each front leg to see if there
is an accumulation on them. Rabbits will wipe their noses
with their front paws and can easily hide signs of
Check under the chin for a
waxy buildup from their scent glands. If you find this
condition, you can wipe the chin gently with warm water. If
this does not remove the buildup, you will need to clip it
off with a pair of round tipped scissors. Rabbits that drink
from unsanitary bowls will occasionally develop dermatitis,
look for redness or irritation.
In addition to the scent
gland under the chin, rabbits have a pair of scent glands
located on either side of their genitals. They are a little
hard to discover. This area needs to be cleaned and checked.
It is convenient to clean the glands at the same time and
frequency as the nails (every 6 – 8 weeks).
To find these glands, lay
the rabbit on its back or sit it on a counter with its back
to you, holding its stomach with your left hand, gently use
your fingers to separate the area directly adjacent to the
genitals on each side. You will find a little "packet". In
this pocket is a scent gland looking a lot like a pimple. A
musky, waxy substance builds up in there. Sometimes it is
white and flaky and other times it will be waxy and brown.
If allowed to build up, it can cause an infection. At the
least, it does not smell good. You should clean this area
with a Q-Tip dipped in warm water or Hydrogen Peroxide.
Gently wipe the area clean. There will be a small brown dot
on the center of the gland that you will not be able to
remove as this is the opening to the gland.
Check your rabbit all over,
his legs, neck, back, belly, head and face. Female and male
rabbits will have nipples on their stomach but there should
be no other bumps. If you find any other lumps, it is wise
to have your vet check them out. As with humans, the earlier
you find and treat a problem the easier it is to cure.
If your rabbit likes a
bath, you can bathe him in warm water with a kitten type
flea shampoo containing pyrethrins. Wash according to the
directions, rinse and dry well. Use a hair dryer set on low
and a comb to separate the fur. If your rabbit hates baths,
don’t take the chance of a struggle and him breaking his
back. You can use a flea comb and remove as many fleas as
possible then use a kitten type flea powder. Rub this into
the fur and down to the skin. After using the flea powder,
wipe the outer fur with a damp cloth to remove as much
powder as possible. The bunny can’t groom as much off this
way. Do not use powder or spray on the rabbit’s head.
"Advantage" has been used with good success, but watch for
signs of poisoning such as lethargy, diarrhea and not
eating. As with any insecticide, discontinue use if there is
any negative reaction.
FLAKING SKIN MAY BE FUR MITES. The mites are
microscopic so you will be unable to tell without a
microscope. Irritated, red patches with no fur are
indicative of mites. The skin can become crusty. A mite
infestation often starts near the base of the ears and the
neck. Your vet or Rabbit Haven can best treat this. You may
also see very thin hair, dandruff and redness caused by
itching due to flea infestation. Check for fleas first.