How To Care For Rabbit’s Nails: A Practical Guide

Are you a new rabbit owner and don’t know how to trim your rabbit’s nails? Well, you have come to the right place as today we are going to discuss some simple steps to take care of rabbit’s nails.

For properly cutting your rabbit’s nails, firstly hold the bunny securely and then use a nail clipper. The clipper must be the one that allows accurate and controlled clips. In addition to this, keep some styptic powder in your hand for dealing with any accident that may occur. Ensure that you do not cut the quick of the nail and try to clip the nails quickly and confidently.

So, let’s discuss a few simple steps for taking care of the rabbit’s nails quickly and with ease.

Why There Is A Need To Trim Rabbit’s Nails?

Rabbit’s nails constantly grow, just like we humans. Usually, wild rabbits do not need any nail trimming. It is because of all the digging and running they do protect themselves from predators. It makes their nails naturally wear. But, this is not the case with pet rabbits.

They do roam around and do some exercise, but it is much lesser in comparison to their wild cousins. However, pet rabbits do enjoy themselves and are healthy and happy in this lifestyle too, but you have to trim their nails from time to time to keep them short.

If you ignore your bunny’s nails, they will grow too long, and your rabbit may face some difficulties. Due to long nails, the rabbit will change the way it stands and exert more pressure on the foot’s back portion.

If left unattended, then such an unusually standing position can cause your rabbit joint pain and eventually some walking issues. The long nails can also increase the chances of getting stumbled on something and can even be broken or entirely yanked out.

In any of these situations, your rabbit will suffer from extreme pain. Additionally, the rabbit can suffer from some other risks too. Its toe or foot bone can break or can even dislocate, resulting in immense pain and difficult recovery.

The best option is to spare some time for your rabbit and cut its nails to avoid these dangers. You can also take it to a vet as most vets can groom rabbit’s nails for a small fee. They cut the nails professionally in a fast and quick way without causing any pain to the rabbit.

However, if you don’t want to pay any fee, you can also do it yourself as it is straightforward to do so. All you need to have is knowledge about nail grooming and some patience. Your bunny will need nail trimming every 1 to 2 months. So, if you are able to do it by yourself, you will save some money and frequent trips to the vet.

Things You Will Need To Cut The Nails

For trimming your rabbit’s nails, you will need to have the following things on hand:

  • Pet nail trimmer.
  • Styptic powder.
  • Good lighting.
  • A flashlight.
  • Towel.
  • A human friend to help you out. (optional)

The Right Pet Trimmer

If you will purchase a nail trimmer specifically for clipping pet nails, it makes the task much easier.

It is not necessary to own a clipper that is specifically for rabbits. Just make sure that the pet clipper has sturdy handles along with curved blades and a sharp circle-like opening where you can place your rabbit’s nail. Such clippers are usually available in every pet store. The clipper does not need to be very expensive. Just ensure they are good enough to give you accurate results.

Some of you may think to use a usual human nail clipper. Although tempting, using such a clipper can crush or break your little bunny’s nails, causing pain instead of giving a precise cut.

Styptic Powder

Styptic powder is an essential thing while you are cutting your rabbit’s nails. It is a veterinary solution that will help you control the bleeding safely and effectively, in case you have cut the nails too short.

There is a blood vessel present at the center base of the rabbit’s nail known as the “quick” of the nails. When you cut the nails too short, then there are chances that you cut through the “quick.” However, if you know the right way to cut a rabbit’s nail, you can easily avoid such a thing from happening. If you accidentally cut the vessel, it can be excruciating for your little bunny. It is one of the main reasons why rabbits are so afraid and put up a fight when it is the day of their nail trimming.

If you cut through the vessel, applying some styptic powder to the nail area will help you stop the bleeding and reduce some pain. It is advised to use a vet-prescribed styptic powder to avoid any infection. But, if you don’t have that, you can also use a pinch of baking soda, bread flour, and cornstarch in an emergency situation.

Rabbit Need Proper Handling While Nail Trimming

It is very crucial to handle your rabbit with care while cutting its nails. If frightened, a rabbit can kick out and break its back. So, it is necessary that when you handle the rabbit, it must not feel threatened or insecure. If it feels vulnerable and frightening, it will fight back and break its back.

For making your rabbit feel secure, you can hold the rabbit close to you with soft hands. You can put it on a raised surface or on your lap to help you look properly at what you are doing. Spreading a towel on the area where you are cutting the nail will aid in providing good traction to the rabbit. Additionally, it will also offer a good comfortable place to sit for your rabbit and feel safe.

Don’t be harsh and squeeze your rabbit. It will make it feel scared. You want your rabbit to be calm and steady so that you can finish the nail cutting work with ease. Hold it calmly, scratch it, and pet it to make it feel secure.

If you find it challenging to do this task, you can ask someone to assist you in cutting the nails. Having someone will make your task easy as one person can hold the rabbit and the other one can trim the nails. Sometimes it is very stressful to hold the rabbit and also cut the nails all by yourself. Having someone to help will alleviate the stress, and you can complete both the tasks correctly without causing any harm to the rabbit.

The correct way to handle the rabbit is to support its back with one hand and put the other hand on its hind. If your rabbit seems frightened and kicks out, even if you are holding it correctly, put it back on the ground and let it relax. Once it feels calm, you can resume your work again.

Attention: Never Flip Your Rabbit On Its Back

As a rabbit is a prey animal, it has a natural instinct to play dead. Whenever a rabbit is put on its back, it becomes calm and still (playing dead). This process is known as trancing. It may be tempting to put the rabbit on its back so that it can go into the trance state, and you can trim its nails. Well, it is not a good idea.

The rabbit may look calm in that state, but actually, it is not. Whenever rabbit is put in a vulnerable position, it scares them and goes into a trance state. They may be less active in that state, but it is a response to fear and are actually in a frightened state of my mind. So, it is not good a good idea if you are thinking of doing so.

Things To Keep In Mind When Cutting Rabbit’s Nails

Once you have held the rabbit securely, it’s time for you to cut its nails. To get the best results, keep the following things in mind:

  • Cut the nails in good lighting.
  • Avoid the quick of the nail.
  • Firstly get the fur aside and then cut the nails.
  • Don’t miss any toes.
  • Be quick.

For Great Trimming, Good Light Is Necessary

For good lighting, one of the best options is to use a flashlight. If you place a flashlight pointing towards the nail you intend to cut, then you’ll be able to see more clearly. Seeing clearly will help you make quick and informed decisions and help put your rabbit at ease.

If you have a smartphone, you can use its flashlight function and place the flashlight shining upward underneath the rabbit’s foot. It will allow you to see all the nails clearly.

Avoid Cutting The Quick

Avoiding to cut the quick of the nail is one of the most vital things that you need to take care of. If you accidentally cut it, your rabbit will have to suffer a lot of pain and bleeding. As we have already discussed, a quick is a blood vein that runs through the nail’s center base close to the toe.

It is easy to find out the vessel in a rabbit with light nails, but much difficult to see in a rabbit with dark nails? So, the best way to cut the nails, whether a dark-colored or a light one, is using the Press-Press-Cut method.

Press-Press-Cut Method

Before placing the nail clipper, squeeze the nail twice lightly. When you do so, in case your rabbit reacts and recoil, then it indicates that you are close to the quick. Rabbits are sensitive near the quick, and beyond that, they don’t feel anything. So, when you squeeze the nail and your rabbit doesn’t react, it means you are good to cut.

The main issue with some rabbits is that they react and recoil no matter where you place the clipper. In such a case, the press-press-cut method will not work. To deal with such a situation, the best option you have is to cut only the nail tips. Even if you think that there is a scope to cut some more, cut only the tip to avoid any potential harm and bleeding.

Before Cutting, Get The Fur Out Of The Way

Good visibility is of great importance when it comes to trimming the nails of the rabbits. Hence, it is necessary to get the fur out of the way before trimming the nails so that you can see clearly. When you are holding a rabbit’s foot, you can brush its fur aside using your thumb. But, even after brushing away most of the fur, if some fur is still coming in your way, it’s ok to trim it. It will cause no harm to your rabbit. If you have got a fluffy rabbit, the best way to make its nail visible is to wet its nail region. By doing so, the fur around the nail will hang off and stays out of your way, and you can see the nail clearly.

 Don’t Forget Any Nail

Remember, a rabbit has four nails on its back feet and four and one dewclaws on its front foot. The front paw has four nails together, and the dewclaw is separately placed, which acts like a thumb. As it is separately placed, sometimes we forget about it and miss trimming it. So, always keep in mind that you have a total of 18 nails to cut. 8 nails on back paws (4 on each foot) and 10 nails on front paws (5 on each foot).

Be Quick

Most of the rabbits don’t like to get their nails done. They seem frightened by it. So, the best way to relieve them from their discomfort is to be quick, confident, as well as assuring. Doing so will need some practice on your side. But, that’s not an issue as you will have several opportunities because rabbits need nail trimming every 1-2 months.

Additionally, if you keep the things swift and direct, your rabbit will sense that you are confident and know what you are doing. In such a case, the rabbit will not be much scared, and you will have much accurate results.

You can also give treats to your rabbit to distract it and keep it calm. Scratching and petting them also makes them feel comfortable and out of danger.