As a rabbit owner, there are lots of things that you would need to do, and also avoid doing if you want the best for your pet. Rabbit parents know as an unwritten rule not to get their pets wet. Some people even think or believe that if a rabbit gets wet, it will die. Going forward, we would be finding out why rabbits should not get wet and what could happen to them if they do.
Can rabbits get wet? Rabbits normally should not get wet, but there are some cases in which we are left with no choice but to bathe them. For instance, an old, obese, or arthritic rabbit might get itself dirty in a way that is not easy to clean up. In the same vein, the animal might soil itself in a place that is difficult to reach. A bath becomes unavoidable under such circumstances.
If you should decide to bath your rabbit, you must know that dousing the animal in water is a big no-no as it is against a rabbit’s nature to get wet. Their fur protects their sensitive skin by repelling little drops of water, so submerging a rabbit in water is very dangerous as this can cause it to go into shock.
Therefore, only a part of a rabbit’s body should be wet at a time.
Is It Harmful if Your Rabbit Gets Wet?
If for any reason, you have to get your rabbit wet, you should do it carefully, and in the safest way possible. Rabbits will fight, struggle, and kick if a bath is to be imposed on them because they are aware that water is not good for them.
They can even end up hurting themselves or breaking their spines while panicking and trying to break free. This goes to show that getting a rabbit wet is harmful to its health. Bunnies should be kept dry and comfortable, and they should have a nice shelter to protect them from rain and keep them warm and dry.
Since bunnies cannot endure cold, they are prone to getting hypothermia, a condition which could result from wetness. Bunnies are quick to get cold and slow to dry up, which makes them delicate when it comes to matters relating to weather and temperature.
They also have very soft and sensitive skin, which gets even more sensitive when it becomes wet, making them open to tears and wounds which could be risky.
What Happens When My Rabbit Gets Wet?
Wetness causes serious distress in rabbits and makes them panic. They also stand the risk of falling sick when they are wet because their furs are not able to shut in or retain heat for their bodies. This condition will leave the animal open to freezing, especially when the temperature is low and particularly for rabbits that are outside a lot.
Chilling causes stress in rabbits which could, in turn, make the animal prone to various kinds of respiratory infections. An example of such an infection is Pasteurellosis. Being wet for extended periods also weakens the animal’s immune system, increasing its chances of falling sick.
Wetness in rabbits not only leads to sicknesses and diseases, but it also causes constant knotting and matting of the fur, which can be irritating and unpleasant. Make sure to detangle any knot in the coat of your rabbit by carefully combing through it. Trying to clip the mats could be dangerous as you might inadvertently cut the skin in the process.
Wetness in rabbits can lead to death, unfortunately. This is mainly as a result of shock or hypothermia. If not quickly attended to, the animal could meet an untimely end.
What Can I Do If My Rabbit Gets Wet?
Whenever you observe that your rabbit is wet, immediately dry it. Firstly, gently dry the animal using a towel but make sure to do this thoroughly. When it is considered dry, you can use a blow dryer to complete the process. The noise from the blow dryer could startle the rabbit and cause it to panic so before using it, put it on, and allow it to run to get your bunny accustomed to the sound.
Ensure that the blow dryer is on low heat to avoid the risk of scalding your rabbit’s skin. When your rabbit is dry, you can still go ahead and warm it up with the use of a blanket and cuddle it, so it does not suffer in any way from getting wet. Your rabbit should be kept safe and dry at all times.
When Should I Give My Rabbit A Bath?
Earlier, it was made clear that there are some circumstances in which there is no other choice but to bathe your rabbit. For a rabbit that cannot reach specific parts of its body, probably due to an illness or obesity, the rear parts and the sexual organs are the parts that suffer the most. To ensure the wellbeing of your rabbit, a safe bath is necessary.
The bath depends on the kind of mess involved, be it wet or dry.
A wet mess can be absorbed using a baby powder that is cornstarch based, fragrance-free, and talc-free (dry bath) while you may need to get rid of a dry mess on your rabbit’s body through a soak or a rinse (wet bath). So, depending on the mess you are handling, you can choose the bath appropriate to deal with it.
Normally, a rabbit would not bother about a dry bath, so it is always best to first try getting rid of messes with dry baths, before settling for a wet one. A dry bath is good in getting rid of poopy butts and urine stains, and also reducing the sting associated with burns from urine. The main thing required for a dry bath is cornstarch powder. Baby powders that contain talc and fragrances are not recommended at all as talc could be carcinogenic and act as an irritant when inhaled by the rabbit.
Follow the instructions below to carry out a rabbit-safe dry bath:
- Get a towel or a slip-proof mat and place it on the floor or whatever surface you want to use so there would be a grip when you place your rabbit there.
- Place your rabbit, back down and stomach up, then apply cornstarch powder generously to the area where the stain is and gently but firmly work it into the fur, through to the skin of the rabbit.
- Where there are clumps of dirt that prove tough, work the cornstarch powder into those areas until the mess starts to come off easily.
- The use of a fine-toothed comb may also come in handy in dealing with dried stains. Run it gently through the fur in the area where the stains are and do not pull too hard so as not to tear the delicate skin of the rabbit.
- When you have successfully removed the stains, pat the areas you applied powder to, so loose powder can come off or make use of a hand-held vacuum to suck up loose powder to prevent your rabbit from inhaling it.
If you cannot avoid giving your rabbit a wet bath, it is essential to follow the right procedures and do it properly. Depending on the mess you are battling with, you could decide to just spot clean the area affected.
Follow the instructions below to carry out a rabbit-safe wet bath (a soak):
- Make sure you use a shampoo that is not medicated and is hypoallergenic to wash your rabbit’s body. The safest shampoo is an organic one, with as little additives as possible, environment friendly, and contains emollients to soothe the skin.
- Get lukewarm water ready in a sink of about 2.5 inches to bathe your rabbit. Make sure the bottom of the sink has a grip for the rabbit to stand on; you can place a towel at the bottom of the sink if it is smooth or slippery.
- Mix shampoo into the lukewarm water. About a tablespoon full will do.
- Lower the rear end of the rabbit into the mixture and do this gently but firmly, without giving the rabbit room to jump about, struggle and injure itself. Get the solution onto the messy areas and massage until they are clean. Ensure water does not get to the head or ears of the rabbit as this can cause ear infections which could be pretty serious and lead to permanent damage. Based on how dirty your rabbit is, you may need to change the water a couple of times until it is clean.
- Once clean, rinse the rabbit thoroughly with neat water until there is no shampoo residue left.
- Dry the rabbit carefully using a towel and try not to rub hard so as not to hurt its skin. Microfiber towels are recommended as they absorb wetness better than the regular towels and are soft to the touch.
- To hasten the drying, you can make use of a hairdryer set to low heat so you would not scald your rabbit’s body. While using the dryer, avoid the ears, head, and privates of your pet. A fine-toothed flea comb can be used while drying, to separate the hairs and aid the process. Do not bring the dryer too close to your rabbit. A distance of about 12 inches is okay. Also, put your hands close to your bunny’s body so that you can easily gauge the temperature of the outflowing air and know if it is too hot or not.
- When your pet is completely dry, trim fur away from areas that are still matted or where the skin is irritated and apply a rabbit safe antibiotic or an ointment to soothe the irritated skin. A good example of such ointments is Calendula.
Try to make the bath short to reduce the stress your rabbit is going through, and if during the process, your rabbit seems to be stressing out abnormally, it is best to put a stop to it immediately.
Follow the instructions below to carry out a rabbit-safe wet bath (a rinse):
- To rinse your rabbit, you would need the help of another person. Depending on the kind of mess you are dealing with, a shampoo (specifically designed for rabbits) may or may not be needed.
- Place a towel or a slip-proof mat at the bottom of your sink to give the rabbit a firm grip to stand on. Have your assistant hold the rabbit in place while you make use of the spray nozzle or the tap. And as stated above, do not get water to the head and ears of your rabbit.
- Making use of your hands, massage the fur of your rabbit in areas that are messy to get the dirt out. You can also make use of a comb to remove clumps and loosen matted areas.
- When your rabbit is clean, dry it off immediately using a towel and a hairdryer set to low heat to complete the process.
Dangers Of A Wet Bath
Since there are some cases in which you must give a wet bath, it is necessary to know the risks that are prevalent in it so that proper procedures can be followed when carrying them out.
- The use of water in bathing a rabbit can be very traumatic and upsetting for it. It may try to avoid the experience, thereby panicking and injuring itself in the process. The stress brought about by the whole thing can cause your rabbit to go into shock or lead to a heart attack from which the rabbit can die. There have been reports of sudden deaths during or after bathing rabbits. That is why ultimate care and caution is advised.
- While struggling to break free, the rabbit can end up breaking its back. This is because its hind legs are very strong compared to its spine which is fragile and weak, so when doing all that jumping and kicking in a bid to get loose, it could hurt its spine.
- Not making use of shampoos that are safe and appropriate for a rabbit can lead to irritation of the rabbit’s skin since it is sensitive and lead to an infection.
- Although it has been strongly advised that water should not get into the ears of a rabbit, the risk is still there so long as you are bathing your rabbit. If water happens to get into its ears, it could cause an ear infection which can be very painful and would require the attention of a vet.
- Also, it takes a lot of time for the wet fur of a rabbit to get dry. If left wet, the rabbit could suffer from hypothermia even when the weather is not cold. That is why the need to dry your rabbit off thoroughly and immediately is emphasized. When using a hairdryer to dry its fur, the risk of unknowingly scalding your rabbit’s skin is there, so do this carefully and make sure the temperature of the air is not too high.
After bathing your rabbit, make sure to keep it warm, and cosy. You can offer it some treats such as vegetables or fruits as well to reward it for enduring through the process. Giving it treats will also make the bath not come across as a negative experience in its mind.
Can Rabbits Get Wet In The Rain?
Rabbits could also get wet as a result of being in the rain. The major problem of rain for rabbits is hypothermia. A rabbit should be protected and kept safely away from a heavy downpour of rain, particularly younger unhealthy rabbits.
A light drizzle would pose no considerable harm to your rabbit since its fur has some hydrophobic properties that help repel water to a certain degree. Also, the animal has the option of a dry, warm, and cosy shelter to get back to when it begins to feel uncomfortable.
Finally, rabbits are fastidiously clean animals, and most times, there is no need to bathe them. But since we love and care about our bunnies, we have to come in when necessary to help in keeping them clean. This should just be done properly and with great care to make sure that you do not harm your rabbit in the process.