People take baths, dogs take baths, and sometimes there is the occasional rare cat that will hop in the shower with you, but rabbits are an animal that should NEVER be bathed. It might not make sense to you at first. You might think that it is ok because other pets take baths. I know my parents bathe their dog at least once a week– but most dogs love water, you’ll see dogs swimming freely in lakes or pools. You never see a wild bunny swimming in a lake. Its just not in their genetics. They bathe themselves with their tongues. They are actually pretty obsessed with cleaning themselves, maybe even more-so than cats.
So why do so many people bathe their rabbits? I think some of it is just them not knowing that its something that is harmful, which makes sense because a lot of common knowledge for rabbits is wrong. That is why I am trying to help change that. Sadly, there are also instances where a vet will tell someone to bathe their rabbit, but in that case, the vet is not a rabbit savvy vet. I have been to multiple rabbit savvy vets in my area, and ALL of them strongly stress to NOT bathe rabbits.
Here are the reasons why you should never bathe a rabbit, or submerge it in water for any reason.
- NEVER should you give a sick rabbit a bath, because seemingly healthy rabbits can have undiagnosed problems, it’s best not to subject them to the stress of a bath
- If your rabbit is very badly infested with fleas, there’s a good chance that he is already compromised and may go into shock when bathed. There are many safe alternatives to flea control (see these under “Fleas,” above). Also, a thoroughly wet rabbit takes a very long time to dry, so spot cleaning the dirty area with an application of baby cornstarch (available at any supermarket in the baby section–do not use talcum, as it is carcinogenic) and then gently combing out the dirt with a fine flea comb is better than a wet bath.
- A wet rabbit can quickly become hypothermic. If your rabbit is wet to the skin for any reason, be sure to thoroughly blow dry the bunny until even the undercoat is dry and fluffy. Normal rabbit body temperature ranges from 101oF – 103oF. Because rabbit skin is very delicate, and rabbits are sensitive to heat, never use a blow dryer on a setting higher than “warm,” and constantly monitor the temperature of the air on the bunny’s skin by placing your hand in its path.
- Rabbits have VERY sensitive respiratory systems, and getting water in their ears or inhaling it in their nose can cause lots of problems. Rabbits that get water in their ears could get ear infections, which usually causes head tilt.
All of these reasons are why I started spreading the word about rabbits and bathing.