Although rabbits are very clean animals, it may become necessary to wash or dry clean their paws.
What causes dirty paws and what you can do about it, we tell you in this article.
Important: Proper washing must be learned here.
But more about that later.
Causes of dirty rabbit paws
Contamination on rabbit paws is not uncommon and is almost unavoidable.
Whether outdoors or in a cage, soil, leaves, urine and feces, as well as food debris, come into contact with the fur and can cause it to stick together, become soggy and discolored.
Normally, rabbits can keep themselves clean and spend a lot of time grooming their fur every day. However, there are some circumstances that can limit this (temporarily).
- heavy soiling.
An illustrative example is arthritis or arthrosis.
In this case, often not only the cleaning of the paws can be done independently. The buttocks and lower abdomen area may also be affected and cleaning requires your help.
Mud, wet bedding, diarrhea or urine lead to wet soiling and sticky fur.
There are two options for cleaning.
First, you can remove smaller stains with a washcloth. This option is simple and gentle. It requires little effort and does not cause your pet much stress. If he is used to it, he will even find this help pleasant and relaxing.
Make sure to dry the paws as well and carefully as possible afterwards.
For larger soiled areas, another option is to use cornstarch. The fine powder is worked into the coat and acts as a sponge, so to speak. It absorbs the moisture and can be brushed out comparatively easily afterwards.
Use a soft brush, because rabbits have very thin and sensitive skin that can be easily damaged.
Alternatively, you can use a fine-toothed comb with rounded tips. It is important that you remove as much of the powder as possible. It also helps to get your pet used to touching its paws.
First, soak the paw in question in a bowl of warm water. This will make it easier to remove mud or urine.
Then massage in a gentle shampoo. Special rabbit shampoo or a mild baby shampoo are suitable.
Soaking again in clear water already removes most of the shampoo. To rinse out the last residues, it is a good idea to use a shower.
Alternatively, you can feel warm water in a measuring cup and use this to wash out. This procedure is primarily recommended for very timid animals.
It is important to dry the fur sufficiently afterwards and to keep your rabbit warm.
Our tip: If several paws are dirty, you should wash them one by one. This way you only need a bowl for soaking and you don’t have to put water in the bathtub or shower. In addition, this prevents your pet from pressing down on the floor out of fear and thus also getting its belly wet.
Dangers due to soiling
Dirty paws are not only a danger for the light floor when running free in the apartment or house. They also pose a risk to the paws themselves.
Inflammations, fur loss and even ulcers are possible.
In addition, the smell can attract flies and other insects. If they lay eggs in your rabbit’s fur and maggots develop from them, you should act quickly. For one thing, this is an indication that there may be sores such as ulcers in the affected area. Secondly, the maggots can feed on the tissue around the wound.
Because of the dense fur, it can be difficult for you to clean and treat such cases. Also, because of the pain involved, the animal will not hold still even if sufficiently acclimated.
Therefore, if necessary, visit a veterinarian to avoid risking a worse course.
Washing rabbit paws – proceed carefully
If there is no way around wet cleaning, you must be very careful when washing. Rabbits are very sensitive to water and can become stressed just from washing.
If you give them a full bath, you can even expect a heart attack.
Therefore, remain very calm, keep patience and use only as much water as is absolutely necessary.
Also, keep the animal warm.
Because rabbit fur dries poorly, the body can become chilled, weakening the immune system. This, in turn, increases the risk for disease.
Prevention of dirty paws
If you prevent dirty paws, you can save yourself a lot of effort and your pet greater stress as well as pain.
This applies primarily to contamination by urine and feces.
The following factors are important for this…
1: absorbent bedding
Sawdust and pellets quickly prove to be of great advantage as they can absorb a lot of liquid.
However, in addition to the type, the amount is also critical!
Often, significantly too little is added to the floor pan. The liquid therefore accumulates and also the sawdust on the surface does not dry properly. So in this case, it is definitely true that more is better.
2: Cleanliness and frequent change
Wet bedding and areas heavily contaminated with feces should be removed or cleaned daily. Complete replacement must be done at least once a week.
In smaller cages, it may be necessary more frequently.
3: perform regular checks
Check your pet’s entire body daily!
The sooner you notice wet paws or soiling, the easier they are usually to remove and the lower the risk of skin problems.
4: Provide enough space
For one thing, there is more bedding in a larger cage. For another, your rabbits can move more freely and establish a toilet corner, among other things.
This offers the possibility to remove wet litter much easier.
The amount to be replaced is smaller. In addition, the moisture is better distributed and dries faster.
5: Introduce toilet corner
While rabbits are not necessarily housebroken, they certainly use areas offered or designated by them to defecate and urinate.
This is of great benefit because it makes it possible to incorporate a litter box into the cage if the floor space is large enough. This makes it easier to keep the litter dry and replace it when needed.
So you can save time, effort and money.
6: Consider neutering
Male un-neutered or intact rabbits can mark.
Not only do they deposit urine on the bedding or floor, but they also splash on walls, the bars and the area outside, as well as other animals, for example.
Neutering avoids or at least reduces this behavior.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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