Grooming: Nails and Fur
Updated: Jul 21, 2022
Just like humans, buns need grooming too! Having a regular grooming schedule for your bun can help keep hair mats and dirt at bay, as well as catching a poopy butt before it worsens.
Grooming a bunny typically consists of taking care of 2 things: their nails and fur. Cutting nails is important as long nails are uncomfortable on solid surfaces and can harm them when they are scratching themselves or struggling when picked up. Clean fur, especially for those with longer hair, means less hair ends up in their digestive tract. A lot of hair in their digestive tract can be deadly.
Cutting a bunny's nails can be tricky, especially because they often squirm when they are picked up. Wrapping them in a soft blanket can secure them in place and minimize their stress. Plus, it'll reduce your chances of getting scratched.
Using a nail clipper for small animals works best, especially if you and your bun want a fast nail cutting session. However, if you're intimidated using a nail clipper (like we were when we first started), we recommend using a a nail grinder. It takes longer but you can better control how much of the nail to trim away.
If you accidently cut the nail too deeply and draw blood, don't fret! Even the most experienced rabbit groomers have had a few accidents. To stop the blood, we use Miracle Care Kwik Stop Styptic Powder, a blood clotting agent. We dip the injured nail into the powder to quickly stop the bleeding.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to see their nails, especially black nails. We use a headlamp to make sure we can see the quick of the nail before cutting or trimming.
Fur is a little more complicated to take care of than nails, especially for longer haired bunnies like lionheads and angoras. We mostly have lionheads and their fur upkeep is much more demanding than, say, our mini satin, Boldamort.
There are typically 2 types of hair detanglers: a comb and brush. Since we show rabbits competitively, we maintain the integrity of their mane as best we can. This means keeping as much fur as possible with the fewest mats possible. The first thing we do is use our fingers to detangle mats and avoid pulling any hair still attached to the bun. We then we turn to combs to show us any hidden mats. The following tips are also useful to not harm your bun as their skin is paper thin.
Combs can also help with take mats out without pulling out much fur. A wider comb helps detangle bigger mats and a flea comb helps detangle smaller mats. We do not use the flea comb on the mane as it is the most likely to pull out their mane.
One of the most recommended brushes lionhead and angora show rabbit breeders have recommended us is the Millers Forge Designer Series Soft Slicker Brush. This brush takes out dead hair without pulling out much of the bunny's fur and in turn, their skin. Other brushes take out the dead hair and hair attached to the skin. We loved the Millers brush so much that we bought 3!
If you're not showing rabbits or not interested in keeping as much mane as possible, you can definitely still use the above advice! But, like our pet bun Bellatrix, your bun may not stay still long enough for the entire grooming session. So we opted for a grooming glove. It acts as a grooming and petting session for her!
If you have a little more money to spare, a speed dryer (no heat) works wonderfully. This was also recommended to us by angora show rabbit breeders. You can literally blow away the mats! This method is best to keep out mats, take out the dead hair, and not damage their hair and skin.
There are a few things that are great when your bun is shedding its fur: the flea comb, grooming glove, and speed dryer. Removing dead hair, which can turn into mats, is ideal. Since they clean themselves daily, they can eat the fur, which is not easily digestible and this can lead to GI stasis. Grooming helps remove unwanted fur.
For special situations
Sometimes, bunnies can get a poopy butt. Having a regular grooming schedule can help you catch it before it develops any further. To tackle a poopy butt, use a waterless dry shampoo to loosen up the poop, and then use your fingers (or a comb) to gently remove the poop. As a last resort, we cut away the poop that's stuck to the fur using facial hair grooming scissors. Be very careful to trim only the poop away and not to nick the rabbit's skin!
If your rabbit's fur gets wet or if you applied too much waterless dry shampoo, you can use baby powder to dry them up. Place some baby powder on your hand, get most of it off your hands and gently scrunch the fur with your hands. Then lightly brush off the baby powder with your hands.
Having a regular grooming routine will help keep your bun clean and happy!