Rabbits, like cats, spend a vast amount of time grooming themselves. Even so, it’s important that you groom your rabbit too, using a tool such as a rabbit grooming brush.
Keeping your bunny clean and well-groomed is very important for his health.
So, how do you brush a rabbit?
What kind of brushes for bunnies do you need? And how do you brush a bunny breed that has long hair?
Let’s find out!
Why Grooming Your Rabbit Is Important
When rabbits groom themselves they tend to swallow a lot of fur, especially when they are molting.
As rabbits cannot vomit, this ingested fur can form hairballs in the rabbit’s intestinal tract. When the hairballs dry out, they cause the gut to become sluggish, leading to constipation and associated health problems.
Grooming your rabbit helps to get rid of excess fur, gives you the chance to bond with your pet, and also allows you to check him over for early signs of any potential health problems, which we’ll discuss later.
How Often Should You Groom Your Rabbit?
Short-coated breeds of rabbit should be groomed at least once a week, more frequently during shedding.
Breeds with long hair should ideally be groomed every day, especially when they are shedding. Long-haired rabbit breeds are prone to developing mats if their coats are not kept in good condition by regular grooming.
Don’t Bathe Your Bunny!
Although wild rabbits can swim if they really need to, rabbits do not enjoy getting wet, and a bath can be extremely stressful for them.
Furthermore, wet rabbit hair forms clumps, making it very difficult to dry them thoroughly and potentially leading to hypothermia and respiratory infections.
Checks To Make While Grooming Your Bunny
So, before we get into detail on how to groom your bunny and talk about the best tools for the job, let’s look briefly at a few important health checks that you should include in your pet’s grooming routine.
Your rabbit has scent glands in the genital area and beneath his chin. Occasionally, you may notice a foul smell emanating from your pet’s rear end.
This unpleasant aroma is caused when the scent glands there become impacted. This not only smells bad, it’s also very uncomfortable for your rabbit.
Although you can gently clean the soiled fur around the area with damp cotton swabs, clearing the impaction is a job that only your vet should undertake.
Keeping your bunny’s feet in good condition is extremely important.
The skin on the soles of the feet is very tender and easily damaged. Injuries can expose the skin to bacteria from urine-soiled bedding, and infection can occur as a result.
In addition, mats can form on the foot pads, especially of long-haired breeds.
If your rabbit has bald, sore-looking patches on his foot pads or areas of matted hair, a trip to the vet is called for.
Check your rabbit’s nails weekly to ensure that they do not become overgrown. Nails that are allowed to become overlong can cause toe injuries and gait issues.
You can trim your rabbit’s nails yourself, but always use proper pet nail clippers such as these Pet Nail Clippers for Small Animals, rather than scissors or human nail clippers.
Even house-kept rabbits can occasionally pick up fleas or mites.
While grooming your rabbit, look out for dandruff (mites), and part the fur to check for dark matter (flea dirt) on the skin. You may even see fleas crawling around on the rabbit’s skin, typically near his head and face.
Frequent scratching and sore, reddened areas on the skin are usually indicative of parasitic infestation or some other skin condition.
Always ask your vet for advice if you notice any of these signs while grooming your pet.
Grooming Your Rabbit – Shedding
The first thing to note about rabbits is that all breeds shed some of their coats, approximately every three months. The shedding usually alternates between light and heavy, and its duration varies between individuals.
Some rabbits take two to three weeks to shed, whereas others can do it all in one day!
It’s especially important that you groom your rabbit with a rabbit grooming brush daily when he is shedding, in order to avoid the formation of those pesky hairballs we talked about earlier.
What’s The Best Rabbit Grooming Brush?
Before you groom your bunny, you’ll need to equip yourself with the right tools for the job. Once you get into the routine of grooming your pet, you will quickly discover his favorite rabbit brushes.
The following grooming kit essentials can all be found on Amazon.com.
Rabbit Brush Mitt
Rabbit brush mitts are made of rubber and are designed to slide over your hand like a mitten.
The underside of the mitt is covered with tiny rubber nubs or teeth, allowing you to pet your rabbit whilst also removing loose hair.
These are useful for short-haired bunnies and can also be a good introduction to grooming for nervous rabbits that are not used to the process. However, mitts are not suitable for long-haired bunnies whose coats are prone to tangling.
Pat Your Pet offers a 2-in-1 grooming mitt, 2-in-1 Pet Glove: Grooming Tool + Furniture Pet Hair Remover Mitt.
Rabbit Brush Gloves
Similar to mitts are rabbit grooming brush gloves. These give you more control, as they allow you to use your fingers.
This means that you can massage your pet, offering a more versatile grooming/petting experience.
HandsOn offers a superior quality grooming glove, #1 Ranked, Award Winning HandsOn Gloves for Shedding, Bathing, Grooming, De-Shedding.
The nitrile, PVC, and nylon fabrication makes this gloves suitable for people with latex allergies.
The gloves are only available in black, which can be off-putting if you like all your kits color coordinated, and they’re not machine washable.
Mat Splitting Comb
A mat splitter rabbit grooming brush is a kit essential if you have a long-haired breed of rabbit. The comb has rows of evenly spaced, double-sided teeth that gently tease out any tangled matted areas of fur.
Pet Republique offers a superior quality, stainless steel de-matting tool, The Pet Republique Matting Tool for Dogs.
Pin/Slicker Rabbit Grooming Brush
Pin brushes, also called slicker brushes, have a rubber-based head mounted with thin wires. Choose a rabbit grooming brush with pins that have plastic end guards to avoid scratching your pet’s skin.
Slicker brushes for rabbits are often double-sided with a soft brush on the reverse of the brushing head. You can also buy pin brushes with retractable pins for easy cleaning.
PetPawJoy offers a dual-use pin/slicker brush, Slicker Brush, PETJAWBOY Dog Brush Gently Cleaning Dog Brush.
Safari makes a self-cleaning version, the Safari Cat Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush.
The main drawback of this design of brush is that over time the pins tend to become bent, which can prevent them from retracting properly.
Rabbit Shedding Comb
As the name suggests, a good-quality shedding brush is essential for use when your bunny is molting his coat. Rabbit shedding brushes are brilliant at removing loose undercoat quickly and efficiently.
If you have a long-haired rabbit, use your shedding comb after you’ve used a slicker brush to avoid pulling on his fur.
There are lots to choose from, so what’s the best brush for shedding rabbits?
FURminator makes four different sizes of shedding combs and are perhaps the best known brand.
Pet Neat makes a shedding brush that is a popular seller.
One potential drawback is that the tool is designed for used on cats and dogs, so it may be a little large if you have a dwarf rabbit.
Ware Manufacturing offers a bunny brush and comb set that includes a soft brush, shedding comb, nail trimmers and even has a tasty treat to keep your pet entertained while you groom him!
Rabbit Grooming Brush
The best rabbit grooming brush has a simple design, featuring a handle attached to the brushing head. The best grooming brush for rabbits must have soft bristles that won’t pull the fur.
Rabbit fur is very soft and fine, and using a harsh brushing tool could damage it.
Safari makes a nice soft-bristle brush that is small enough to be used as a pet rabbit brush.
Grooming Your Rabbit – How To Hold Him Correctly
It’s important to hold your rabbit correctly when grooming him. After all, the whole experience is supposed to be enjoyable for all concerned, not an ordeal that both parties dread!
Do not lay your rabbit on his back. Although your bunny will undoubtedly stay perfectly still, this is not because he is relaxed or hypnotized. This reaction is an instinctual prey animal response to being caught by a predator.
A hypnotized bunny is actually terrified and playing dead. Any noises he makes will be of fear not pleasure.
Instead make your bunny comfortable by placing him on a blanket or towel on a firm surface so that he feels secure and comfortable.
Using Your Rabbit Grooming Brush
For short-haired breeds, start by using a pin brush to draw any loose hair to the top of the rabbit’s coat. Be sure to brush the fur in the right direction so that it lays flat.
For long-haired bunnies, use a wide-toothed comb.
Use a rubber grooming mitt or glove to gently remove the excess fur. Use a stroking motion from behind the rabbit’s ears, along his back to his tail.
Repeat the process a few times, taking in the bunny’s sides and tummy too.
If you have a longer-coated bunny, part his fur so that you can check for hay seeds and other irritants that may have worked their way down to the skin, especially around his face and eyes.
Now use your slicker brush or comb to go over bunny’s coat, brushing with the direction of growth. This should get rid of any tangles and stubborn loose hair.
Finish off with a soft-bristle brush to smooth the coat.
Dealing with Mats
All rabbits can suffer from mats, but long-haired breeds are especially susceptible. Daily grooming can help to prevent mats from forming.
If you discover an area of matted hair, try to very gently tease it out with your fingers.
Be very careful not to pull on the hair, especially if the mat is close to the skin, as bunny skin is very delicate and is easily torn.
A special mat splitting rabbit grooming brush, like the Pet Republique Matting Tool for Dogs, can often be effective if the mats are not too severe.
Do not cut off any matted hair with scissors! If you can’t remove the mats yourself, ask your vet nurse or vet to do it for you.
How Do You Groom Your Bunny?
Grooming your rabbit regularly with a rabbit grooming brush is very important to keep him healthy and looking good!
Why not tell us how often you groom your rabbit and share what brushes and other tools you find most effective in the comments section below?
Resources and Further Reading
House Rabbit Society, Grooming.
Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund, Moulting.
House Rabbit Society, Sluggish Motility in the Gastrointestinal Tract.