Friday, 25 September 2015

Grooming Your Bunny

What is Grooming?
Grooming involves brushing your bunny's fur and, if necessary, trimming your bunny's nails. Generally, short-hair breeds require less coat maintenance. It's the long-hair breeds that require more attentive fur care.

Wally the Angora rabbit (Look at how well-trimmed his long fur is!)

The Purpose of Grooming
  • To reduce ingested fur
    • Bunnies are clean creatures. One of their daily activities is grooming themselves with that cute little tongue. However, they tend to swallow a lot of hair in the process, and that is why they occasionally need assistance from us to brush away the excess loose fur, especially during molting periods.
  • Short nails for safety
    • Long nails are uncomfortable for a bunny when he/she hops. 
    • Long nails are more likely to get accidentally caught in items and teared off - needless to say, this would be painful for the bunny! 

What to Use
Bunnies have delicate skin, so it is important that you take note of the type of brush you use: 
  • soft bristle brush or fine-toothed comb is recommended. 
  • Personally, I strongly advise against using a slicker brush. The metal teeth can be quite uncomfortable for a bunny's sensitive skin. 
Metal slicker brush - A no-no tool when grooming bunnies.

How to Groom Your Bunny
The steps are very easy - in fact, there are only two steps.
  1. Pet your bunny so that he/she assumes a resting position.
  2. Follow the direction of your bunny's fur when you brush!

Dealing with Heavy Shedding
Bunnies tend to go through a heavy shed at least once a year. During such periods, a soft pet on your bunny's back would literally send loose fur fluttering in the air. A few more strokes and it's not an understatement when I say you'll yield this:

A ball of loose fur

Jippie and the ball of fur

Now, what should you do?

  • Brush more frequently
    • Alternatively, you can simply stroke your bunny more often. The thin layer of sweat on your palms naturally picks up and removes the loose fur. 
  • The right foods
    • Check on your bunny's hay consumption - make sure he/she is eating hay! Fibre is crucial in pushing all the ingested fur out of their gut. 
    • If your bunny isn't a keen water drinker, offer more vegetables when he/she is shedding. Water is important to ensure an efficient digestive system as well.

During a heavy shed, there might be:
  • a change in your bunny's fur colour (eg: dark brown to light brown) 
    Left: 2-month-old Dutchie, his fur is pure black.
    Right: 2-year-old Dutchie, the tips of his black fur are light brown!

  • mildly bald patches, the thinning out of fur, and artistic patterns appearing
    A heart shape?

Be reassured that a change in fur colour is perfectly normal, and where there are mildly bald patches, the bunny's fur should grow back quickly within 1 - 2 weeks. 

Dealing with Other Issues
  • Long-hair
    • The effective method to make long fur more manageable is simple: keep the hair short. You can trim the fur to about 1 inch
    • Make it a must to brush your long-hair bun daily. Lack of manual brushing will often result in the fur tangling into severe mats.
  • Matted fur
    • DO NOT attempt to pull out the chunk of fur with your fingers. You may potentially injure your bunny's delicate skin. 
    • Use a pair of scissors with a rounded end to carefully trim away the mat. 

Trimming the Nails
Many bunny owners are nervous about the idea of cutting their bunny's nails. The greatest fear is bleeding. However, as long as you're careful and equipped with the correct information and tools, the task is not as difficult as it sounds!

Which section of the nail you should cut:

This is the nail clipper I use:

General instructions and tips:
  • A bunny's nail should be trimmed about every 4 weeks.
  • Instead of estimating from where the quick ends, you can simply position the clippers several millimetres from the tip of the nail and make the cut there, just to be safe.
  • You can ask a family member or friend to help coax and restrain your bunny while you trim the nail.

An excellent video on how to trim a bunny's nails:

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