Is it okay for bunnies and rabbits to have baths?
There is some controversy on bathing rabbits. There are multiple claims that bathing, which causes stress to a bunny, can cause a heart attack or upset the balance in their gut causing them to go into Gastrointestinal (GI) Statis. It is true that subjecting a rabbit to high levels of stress can cause death to a rabbit, thus we do not recommend any untrained person to groom or bathe their bunnies.
Yes, our groomers from The Grooming Angels do sometimes bathe bunnies when the situation calls for it, but it really depends on several factors.
As a general rule of thumb, for short to medium coated bunnies, we only wash the areas that need cleaning, unless they're extremely dirty and a bath is inevitable. In such cases, a bath is executed with utmost care by our gentle and skilled small animal groomers. After which, the bunnies are immediately hand dried with a pet dryer under a warm gentle setting, gently and thoroughly.
There is some disagreement, however, about whether this rule applies to extremely long haired rabbits, like Angoras and Lionheads. These rabbits have been genetically bred such that their coat is extremely long and it is impossible for them to care for on their own, even more so when they are molting/shedding. With long coated breeds like Angoras and Lionheads, self grooming can lead to the ingestion of large amounts of fur which can ball up and cause blockages resulting in GI Stasis. Therefore, some owners choose to bathe their rabbit to augment brushing during times of heavy molting, while others find it a better choice to shave the rabbit during these times.
Our small animal groomers are highly skilled to handle rabbits and guinea pigs and trained to weigh our options and pick the best course of action for each of them while avoiding anything that stresses them unnecessarily. On top of assessing their coat condition, we also assess their personality, temperament, and body language of each individual bunny before we decide if a bath is a go or no-go. We also communicate closely with the bunny owners to get a better understanding on the needs of each bunny.
If we feel a bunny is stressed or scared, we have other (albeit less effective) methods to clean the bunny. It's our utmost priority that each bunny is clean, happy and stress-free after each grooming session.
That being said, we do not recommend bathing your bunnies without professional supervision. Give us a ring and we'll be there! ;)