Trimming your bunny’s nails makes up a vital part of keeping them in good health, and while many rabbit owners take their bunny to the vet, you can simply and safely cut your rabbit’s nails yourself. Even though most vets can do the job very cheap, a lot of owners wish to cut their rabbit’s nails themselves.
Domestic rabbits will need to be pedicured. Trimming your bunny’s nails helps prevent them from growing too long. If their nails were to grow too long, your rabbit would be at risk of having their nails torn off, or having difficulties moving about. Bunnies that are kept outdoors may not need to have their nails clipped as often, as their nails will naturally be worn down by their activities. If you’re still deciding whether to keep your rabbit inside or outside, we have an article for that too!
How often should I trim my rabbit’s nails?
Each rabbit differs individually, and so there is no concrete answer as to how often you should trim your rabbit’s nails. In general, I would recommend having a good look at your rabbit’s nails at least once a month.
So how do I know when the time is right to trim my bunny’s nails?
According to WikiHow, if the nail curves at all, then they are too long and should be clipped. Furthermore, if you can hear their claws on the floor as they hop around, it is important you clip their nails.
How do I trim my rabbit’s nails?
Keeping your rabbit comfortable
I would highly recommend that from an early age, you get your rabbit used to having their nails touched or trimmed. If your rabbit is not necessarily at an “early age”, you can generally incentivise them with food or pats. They may enjoy rabbit treats such as pellets or carrots as a reward for staying calm around you.
Many rabbits won’t like being handled as they have their nails trimmed since they are scared, and worried about the process. If this is the case, it can often be easier to let your bunny get some exercise each day so that their nails naturally wear down. If their nails still need trimming, you can try the following:
- Place the nail trimmers so that your rabbit can see them. Reward them if they stay calm.
- Slowly bring the trimmers closer to your rabbit, and continue to reward them.
- Continue this, and work up toward the actual trimming process.
- Most importantly, if your rabbit becomes distressed, STOP and try again another day.
Preparing for the Trimming Process
Which clippers should I use to cut my bunny’s nails?
The first step to cutting your rabbit’s nails is deciding which clippers to use. It is important not to use a nail trimmer built for humans, as the nail structure of rabbits is fundamentally different to our own. The following picture from CottonTails Rescue shows a rabbit’s nails – which have not been cut.
Human nail clippers are designed for human-like flat nails, rather than the round nails of rabbits. Many pet owners will opt for typical dog and cat-claw trimmers, which is totally fine! We highly recommend picking this pair of nail trimmers from the BunnyHub.org Official Store. They are fairly inexpensive, and will enable you to cut your rabbit’s nails easily.
Even when a vet cuts a rabbit’s nails, there is always a chance that the claws may be cut too short and will bleed a little. More specifically, inside each of your bunny’s nails, there is a blood vessel (called a “quick”), which, when cut will bleed.
Most pharmacies or drugstores offer styptic powder or styptic pencils, which will help stop bleeding in the event that you accidentally cut your rabbit’s nails a little too short. You can also purchase some styptic powder on Amazon here.
Controlling Your Bunny
Before you begin to trim your bunny’s nails, make sure they are calm. Hold your bunny in your lap, and pat them gently and slowly for a while prior to cutting the nails. You’ll know your rabbit is ready for the trimming process when they are still, sleepy, relaxed and breathing deeply.
Of course, you’ll need to keep your rabbit still while you trim their nails – and as a bunny owner yourself, you probably know how hard this is! If they start to struggle, you can try applying a small amount of pressure to the rabbit’s sides and the haunches of their legs – this pressure imitates being squeezed together with more rabbits in a burrow, which can calm them.
You will have to angle your bunny so that you are able to cut their nails such that both you and them are comfortable. The following video contains some great advice on how to keep your rabbit relaxed as you try to clip their nails:
The Trimming Process
Observe the above diagram of a bunny’s nail. When cutting your bunny’s nails, the aim would be to cut just above the “quick” (blood vessel) so that their nails can be short, with no bleeding. For rabbits with lighter nails, you will see a dark shadow where the quick is. If your rabbit has darker nails, I’d recommend shining a torch to the nail so you can identify where the quick is.
Note that it is best to cut the nail perpendicular to the direction of growth, so your rabbit’s nails are not too sharp. You only want to trim the tip of each claw – it is much better to make tiny, frequent cuts than to cut your rabbit’s nails infrequently.
Before cutting each nail of your rabbit, you should apply some pressure where you intend to clip to “test” your intended clip. If you find that your bunny recoils its paw, it’s likely that you are about to clip into the quick.
The rear paws of your rabbit may be hard to access, and you may need to flip your bunny onto their back to trim their back paws. When doing this, be cautious not to scare your rabbit.
What if my bunny doesn’t like being flipped on their back? If your rabbit does not like being flipped over, I would recommend asking a second person to put one hand around your bunny’s stomach, and the other under its bottom. This way, they can tilt the rabbit back a little, keeping it supported and giving you access to clip the nails.
If your rabbit struggles during the trimming process, you can take a break between clipping each foot. Lastly, always finish off the trimming process by giving your bunny a food treat as a reward. This will help make them more comfortable next time you intend on trimming their nails. If necessary, you can use the styptic powder to stop any bleeding.
Do I need to take my rabbit to the vet if their nails are bleeding? If your rabbit’s nails are bleeding mildly after you cut them, use styptic powder or flour to stop the blood. In the case that your rabbit is bleeding and you think that you have cut deep into the quick, I would definitely recommend calling a vet for advice.
If you are still anxious or unsure about cutting your rabbit’s claws, please contact a vet, so that they can show you how to do so.
Do you have friends who would find this article useful? Support us at BunnyHub.org by sharing it with them!