Rabbits have a tendency to get their paws muddy. If you’ve been letting them hop around in the yard, the soft fur will manage to pick up all bits of dirt and straw they come across. Domestic rabbits are also known for having the habit of sitting in their own litter box, which can stain their feet yellow.
Rabbits do a pretty good job of keeping themselves clean, but it can get tricky when it comes to the feet. After all, there are 4 of them, and the back 2 can be difficult to reach. Rabbits also don’t have paw pads. In fact, their feet are covered in nothing but fur. And we all know how messy fur can get.
The best way to clean a rabbit is gently, with a wet cloth. They don’t enjoy baths, so you do need to be careful. In this guide, we can tell you how to clean your rabbit’s feet both safely and easily.
What is making your rabbit’s feet dirty?
If your rabbit has been hopping around in a run or across a yard, it’s normal for the feet to get dirty. Particularly if there has been recent rain, or if there are particularly dusty conditions. This is fairly easy to spot, and you’ll probably notice it when you’re getting your rabbit settled. Some rabbits are big diggers, and these are particularly prone to dirty feet.
However, sometimes your rabbit’s feet might seem to be stained slightly yellow. Although this can be nothing but dirt, it’s often the result of urine. Domesticated rabbits have a habit of sitting in their litter tray.
The reasons behind this aren’t completely clear, but a big part of it is just that it’s a comfortable place to sit. Make sure to clean the litter tray regularly, and line it with soft and absorbent paper. Otherwise, train your rabbit to sit elsewhere, by rewarding them when they move.
While sitting in the litter tray isn’t dangerous, it does have a frustrating side effect – stained feet. If you’re wondering why your rabbit’s feet have turned slightly yellow, keep an eye on how much time they spend in the litter tray. The time to be wary is if the staining spreads. Yellow staining on the belly fur might be a sign of urinary infection, or an inability to clean.
Urine might be the most typical reason for staining, but it isn’t the only one. If the cage bars are rusting, this can leave stains on your rabbit’s fur. It may also, potentially, be coming from the litter itself. If you’re using newspaper, or other printed or colored paper, this might be running, and causing staining.
Cleaning dirt from your rabbit’s feet
It’s important to keep your rabbit’s feet clean, or they can risk developing sores. However, light dirt shouldn’t cause many problems, and in most cases the rabbit will keep itself clean enough. Sometimes, a dry towel is enough to wipe the feet clean.
For very dirty feet, a more thorough wipe down is necessary. The most important thing is to keep your rabbit calm. Soak a towel in warm water. Lay a dry towel over your lap, and place the rabbit gently on top. Wait until they’re settled, giving as many pets and strokes as necessary. Once the rabbit is calm, use the warm and damp cloth to gently wipe away the dirt. Once they’re clean, dry the fur using a kitchen towel.
Make this into a routine, to prevent dirt build up and get your rabbit used to the treatment. Two times a week should be enough.
If there are heavier clumps of dirt, or matted fur, you may be tempted to cut it away. Do not do this! Mats need to be gently teased out with a comb or brush, and the dirt wiped away. Rabbits have delicate skin, and by cutting the fur you risk cutting the skin.
Cleaning urine stains from your rabbit’s feet
Urine stains are slightly more complicated to get rid of. A dry bath is the best method to use. Rabbits are naturally flighty, so remain patient and gentle throughout the process.
- Place the bunny belly up, on soft mats and pads. The neck and back should be well-supported. This is the easiest method for the owner, but some rabbits will not be happy in the position. Go slowly, and if the rabbit refuses, then get to work with them on their paws.
- Apply cornstarch powder to the feet and legs – wherever the urine stains are. Look for cornstarch powder designed for use on babies. Don’t use baby powder, and don’t use powder with fragrance or other additions.
- Rub the cornstarch into the stains. It should naturally lift away the urine. For bad stains, gently comb the powder through using a flea comb.
- Stroke and rub at the fur until the powder has been removed, and the stains have been lifted. Rabbits have delicate skin, so go carefully.
- Vacuum the powder away, so it doesn’t irritate the rabbit.
Should you bathe your rabbits?
Rabbits have long and thick fur that takes a while to dry, so washing them is a bad idea. They find being submerged in water stressful, and sometimes can even die from going into shock. Once they’re out of the water, it takes them a long time to dry, and in the meantime the water turns cold. This is incredibly uncomfortable for the rabbit, and it can lead them to getting sick.
It is possible to bathe a rabbit, but you have to go very slowly to keep the rabbit calm. If you want to bathe your rabbit, take them to a vet first. The vet can perform a safe bath, while teaching you the proper techniques.
Keeping your rabbit clean
The most important way to keep your rabbit clean is by regularly cleaning their environment. Spot clean every day, removing damp litter and old food. At least once a week, complete a thorough clean of the hutch.