In this blog, I will discuss nail clipping, checking & cleaning ears, scent gland cleaning (yes, it needs to be done!), and brushing. If you are uncertain about doing any of these yourself, ask your local rescue organization to show you how!
If you haven't done it before, clipping your rabbit's or guinea pig's nails might seem a little daunting. However, it is a necessary chore to ensure your pet's health and comfort. Nails that go a long time without being clipped start to curl around and run the risk of ripping out.
|Neglected guinea pig's nails|
|You can see how much the nails started to curl. He felt much better after clipping!|
|Picture from guinealynx.info|
As for clippers, my personal favorite are cat nail clippers similar to these (available at any pet store):
Nail clipping is one of those things that takes a bit of practice to build up confidence. If you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can always have your vet clip them - just be aware that you will most likely be charged a fee, and that nails should be clipped every 6-8 weeks. Check with your local rescue group as well. 4 Lil Pigs n Buns offers nail-trimming services.
The grooming routine should include checking, and if necessary, cleaning the ears. This is a good chance to check for anything abnormal. Does your bunny have any crusty material in the ears? This might indicate ear mites. This is a common and easily-treatable condition. Your veterinarian can prescribe Ivermectin to treat the mites.
|Infestation of ear mites. If left unchecked, the ear mites will crust the entire ear, and the rabbit will be extremely uncomfortable.|
This isn't the most pleasant task, but it is necessary to keep our companions comfortable. Bunnies have scent glands under their chin (you will notice your rabbit "chinning" objects) and in their genital area. The grease gland on a guinea pig is located on the rump where the backbone ends. The perineal sac on male guinea pigs should be checked and cleared of debris as well.
Bunnies can collect a waxy buildup in their genital scent glands. There are two glands, one located on each side of the genital mound. Hold your bunny so that you can access the genital area. Gently open the scent gland. If there is buildup, you can use a cotton swab dipped in mineral oil or warm water to clear it away.
|Rabbit scent gland (Source: medirabbit.com)|
Some guinea pigs (especially boars) will periodically have greasy, waxy buildup on the grease gland. People have had success cleaning it with Dawn dish soap or Cetaphil soap. I've used both in the past, and both worked. The boar's perineal sac needs to be checked for debris. If they are not cleaned regularly, a plug of debris can form. To clean it, gently pull aside the folds of the anus. You can clean debris using a cotton swab and mineral oil, or a warm water flush. For more information, visit http://www.guinealynx.info/impaction.html My boars always seemed quite happy to have a clean bum!
|Guinea pig grease gland (Source: http://www.guinealynx.info/grooming.html)|
Brushing is a crucial part of grooming, especially for bunnies. If too much fur is ingested, it can cause a blockage, and unlike cats, rabbits cannot cough up hairballs. It has to go all the way through. The best way to prevent hairballs in rabbits is to regularly brush your bunny. Some bunnies love being brushed, and some of them hate it. I have one of each! Unfortunately, the one that hates it is the one that sheds the most! Much of the time, you can use your fingers to pluck loose fur from your bunny (which my bunny that hates brushing also hates). The most effective tool that I've found for brushing rabbits is the Furminator. One thing to keep in mind is that rabbit skin is very delicate, so you must be gentle when brushing. Some people will not use a Furminator for this reason. My bun that likes being brushed seems to like the Furminator, and I haven't had any problems with it. I just use a soft bristle brush for my piggies.
Many specialty bunny websites offer several different types of brushes, such as Leith Petwerks . You may need to try a few different brushes to see what works best for your bunny. Another trick to removing loose fur is to wet your hands and run them down your bunny's body. Loose fur will stick to your wet hands. Just make sure your bunny doesn't get too wet and cold!
Brushing also gives you a chance to check for any lumps and bumps that you might otherwise miss. You can check for fleas or other parasites. Be sure to visit your vet if you find anything out of the ordinary! For fleas, your vet can prescribe Advantage or Revolution (will also kill mites). Just be sure to NEVER use Frontline. Frontline can KILL your rabbit. NEVER use a flea collar or flea dip. Cheap flea treatments can kill your pet.
Long-haired bunnies and guinea pigs take extra time and effort to keep groomed. It is essential that you keep up with it, otherwise mats will form. You may also need to trim the fur, which can be a delicate procedure. So, before taking on a beautiful long-haired pet, be sure that you have the time and motivation to regularly groom your companion!
A well-groomed pet is a happy pet
Your pet will be happier and healthier if you keep up with regular grooming. Here are some very helpful links:
House Rabbit Society grooming FAQ
Guinea Lynx grooming FAQ
If you have any grooming questions, feel free to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org), or visit us at any event!
Don't forget! Our next BIG event is our bunny bonding workshop/speed-dating session on February 23rd at our new facility in Dover. The event takes place from 12pm-4pm, with the bonding workshop starting at 12. We will also be offering GROOMING for your bunny. For a $25 donation, we will clip your bunny's nails, brush, and check/clean scent glands and ears. Excess matting may carry an additional charge. We'll do just a nail trim for a $10 donation!
Have a lonely bunny? Thinking about finding a companion for your bunny? Be sure to get your bunny spayed/neutered (they need about 4 weeks to let hormones die down before being introduced), and fill out our adoption questionnaire so you can be approved for adoption before the event!
|Because two are better than one.|