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If you’re lucky, you’ll never have to wash a bunny. Only one of mine has ever needed frequent washing, and luckily she was super chill. Unfortunately she was giant cross, so the process took a bit of engineering to be most efficient, but we got their in the end.
Do you need to wash your bunny?
No. Bunnies are clean animals, and most take great pride in washing themselves. It’s extremely cute to watch, especially when they lick their little paws and then wash their face.
One of my rabbits only had one ear, but sometimes she’d forget and try to reach up and grab what was only a little stub. Ugh, so cute.
Why shouldn’t you wash a bunny
Bunnies are delicate little creatures and submerging their whole body in a bath can actually cause them to go into shock and die. Obviously not every rabbit will do this, but it’s absolutely not worth the risk.
Rabbits have a fur coat that designed to keep them warm, and absolutely not designed to get soaking wet. If you give your rabbit a full body bath, they can get hypothermia pretty easily.
Circumstances under which you may need to give your rabbit a wash
The only real circumstance under which you’d need to give a rabbit a wash is if they can longer reach their butt to eat their cecotropes. Cecotropes can end up getting stuck to their butt and become a bit of a mess.
This can also happen if your rabbit has a sensitive stomach and you’re introducing something new into their diet. They can get a runny but and again, it becomes messy.
Whilst it’s not recommended that you bath your bunny, you also mustn’t just leave it. A pooey butt can attract flies, which lay their eggs in your bunnies fur and can result in flystrike and even death.
Before you consider bathing your rabbit, try brushing them first, especially if they’ve just gotten a bit muddy. Bathing is really a last resort.
How to give your bunny a butt bath
I like to start by removing as much poop as possible using kitchen towel. A few years ago, I’d never heard if of giving a rabbit a dry bath, so I used to haul my enormous rabbit onto a towel next to the sink, and use a damp cloth to remove as much as I could.
If your rabbit hates picked up (99% of them do) you can put a couple of inches of warm water in a bowl and try the same thing on the floor.
Occasionally I’d use a special shampoo formulated for rabbits, but more often than not I’d just use plain water.
Don’t use anything other than shampoos intended for rabbits – they have extremely sensitive skin and can have a reaction easily.
Even if the reaction is just that they get a bit itchy, you don’t want them associating anything negative with bathtime, because it’ll just make the whole process worse for them (and probably you).
Using corn flour to wash your rabbit
If your rabbit hates being washed with water, or it’s cold outside (and by cold, I mean any temperature that would make you put on a jacket if you went outside), use corn flour (cornstarch) and rub it into your rabbit’s fur.
This will help remove dirt and clean your rabbit without having to get them wet at all, although you may need a warm, damp cloth, for tricky areas.
How to make sure your rabbit is dried properly after their wash
It depends. In my experience, a lot of rabbits don’t mind being burritoed in a warm towel.
Warm your towel on the radiator or in the dryer. put it on the floor, put the bunny on top and then wrap. I like to make sure they’re totally dry, so I sit with them for a while and give them pets and treats.
If your rabbit hates being bathed it can be a good idea to trim nails whilst they’re in the towel burrito. I know it’s mean, but since they hate being bathed you may as well get nails out of the way too.
Some rabbits, like dogs, like to run around after a bath, and this can help to dry them. They also shake like dogs, even if they only get one drop of water on them. They are hilarious drama queens.
If you’re lucky (I was) your rabbit will let you blowdry them. I only use the cool setting, since the one on my dryer is warm but not at all hot. If the cool setting on your dryer is actually cold, use the lowest warm setting.
My rabbit loved being blowdried, but since she’s the only one I’ve ever had to bathe, I have no idea how common it is that she enjoyed it.
I know that most of you have house rabbits, so your rabbit should dry fine. However, if you keep your rabbit outside, I would urge you to leave damp rabbits inside overnight, just to be certain they’re dry and won’t get hypothermia.
Causes of stinky bunny butt
Overweight bunnies can struggle to bend and clean themselves or eat their cecotropes straight from their butt.
If your bunny needs to shift a bit of weight, cut right back on pellets and treats. In fact, only give a few pellets as treats, and make sure the vast majority of their diet is veggies and hay.
Change in diet
Rabbits have very sensitive stomaches and a change in diet can cause runny poops. If you want to add new veggies, different pellets, or any kind of change to their diet, make sure to increase new foods and decrease old foods very gradually.
It’s normal for rabbits to produce soft poops with a change in diet, but if the issue persists, it’s best to get them to the vet.
Diarrhoea can be fatal in bunnies, so if your rabbit suddenly starts producing runny poops when nothing has changed, get them to the vet. It’s probably noting serious, but the vet will be able to give fluids and prevent dehydration if necessary.
Mobility issues like head tilt and arthritis can also stop rabbits from being able to clean themselves adequately. As rabbits get older you may find that you have to give them baths more frequently.
Get into the habit of checking them often – brushing your rabbit regularly may be enough to keep the issues at bay,
Remedies for stinky bunny butt
Stinky bunny butt (to give it its technical name) is pretty common, and it’s usually caused by a dramatic change of diet.
However, if the problem doesn’t subside, and your rabbit id perfectly healthy in all other aspects, you may have to do something drastic: cut out pellet all together.
It doesn’t have to be forever – even a few months can help. Stinky bunny butt often happens as a result of overactive gut flora, and by cutting out sugar (of which there’s quite a bit in pellets) you can kill of the excess bacteria.
I’ll warn you: your bunny will hate you.
And also, if you cut out pellets for long enough, it should stop the problem.
However, your rabbit will probably never let pellets of their sight again, so it’s easiest for both of you if you stay strong for six months and knock the problem on the head, rather than stopping and starting every other week.
Your rabbit should naturally start eating more hay, and will, after a while, produce perfect big golden poops that don’t stick to their butt. We did it for 6 months, and the problem totally went.
Since the gut flora is being fed by sugar, it’s also necessary to cut out sugary treats like banana and carrot. Carrot tops are a great treat replacement, and so is watercress. Herbs like mint and coriander can be given every day.
Final thoughts on washing your bunny
A lot of us will never have to clean our rabbits. George lived with me for ten years and never once had so much as a dry butt bath.
He was the easiest bunny ever – he only needed brushing a couple of times a year too, unlike his mate who needed weekly brushings and a six-month pellet break.
Do. Not. Bath. Your. Whole. Bunny.