If you own a pet rabbit, you’ll want to know whether or not they can get wet. Is it possible for them to do so, safe or is it something that needs to be avoided at all costs? With these considerations in mind I decided to so some research. I’d like to share my findings with you here today so you know exactly how to take the best care of your bunny.
So, can rabbits get wet? It is not advisable for rabbits to get wet regularly or often. It can also be very dangerous for a rabbit to get wet, be immersed in water, or even damp. Being wet can lead to shock and distress, which can ultimately lead to illness and in the worst-case scenario: death.
That being said, there may be times in which you need to carefully wash your rabbit.
For example, if they were to soil themselves and being unable to clean due to being overweight or immobile through arthritis and/or old age.
Rabbits in the wild will never get into a body of water – willingness that is. They have an aversion to water and will do their best to avoid it.
In fact, the fur of a rabbit will naturally protect their sensitive skin from water.
As an owner, getting your rabbit wet should be purposeful and only in particular circumstances and situations.
You’ll want to only get a small amount of their body wet and never soak them completely. In doing so, you can cause your rabbit extreme stress which can prove fatal.
Is It Safe For Rabbits To Get Wet?
For the most part, it is not okay for a rabbit to get wet. It can prove to be quite dangerous.
Therefore as an owner, you will need to approach their care around water in a safe and appropriate manner.
First and foremost, you should never put your rabbit into a bowl of water/ or a bathe. You should never let your rabbit be submerged.
Rabbits do not respond well to being wet, they do not particularly like water.
Its no surprise that they actually have their own unique methods to keep themselves clean.
This is why you may have heard of reports of rabbit owners whom were greeted with kicks, bites and escape attempts ahead of bath-time.
Rabbits instinctively know that they do not do well in, or respond well to water.
So as an owner, you will need to make arrangements and considerations at any time where water is present, or if you were looking to apply water to their bodies.
Less is always more here.
Additionally, be careful of sudden changes in the weather when your rabbits are outside. Rabbits should not be let out in the rain. A responsible owner will ensure there is shelter for their rabbits to escape to and be able to remain safe and dry.
When its raining, its generally a good idea to bring them inside – if of course it is at all possible.
Will Rabbits Get Sick If They Get Wet?
Yes, rabbits can get sick if they get wet. This can occur for several different reasons – but directly in response to these uncomfortable conditions.
If a rabbit was to be submerged in water, or become totally wet (especially if this was to occur very quickly), they will endure a stress response and go into a state of shock and panic.
It is also likely that they could injure themselves as they attempt to escape and keep themselves safe.
Unfortunately, rabbits are known to be able to break their spines in a frightened state; so it goes without saying that you need to be very careful.
Another concern is that a rabbit can enter a state of hypothermia. This happens when their temperature drops below 38.5°C.
It can happen following being made wet – as their body is damp, the body temperature is dis-regulated and they begin to cool rapidly.
Lastly, rabbits skin is actually very sensitive. Water actually makes it become more elastic as it softens up. So much so that it can even begin to tear and wounds begin to form. This is not only painful but it can lead to infection and further illness.
Can A Rabbit Die If It Gets Wet?
Unfortunately, a rabbit can die if they get wet. This does not necessarily mean that a rabbit will die, but it is a possibility.
As previously mentioned, the main risks that can lead to death include the state of shock and/or hypothermia.
This is why it is so important that you carefully approach bathing and only do so as and when required.
What To Do If Your Rabbit Gets Wet
If your rabbit was to become very wet, then its important to know and be aware of the best course of action.
You’ll need to be especially careful and prompt. In such a situation, you would need to ensure that they can safely return to a normal body temperature (keeping them warm with towels and blankets) and very gently drying their fur out.
You can minimize the shock response by moving them to a safe, warm and comfortable place. Provide some blankets to ensure they do not suffer a drastic fall in body temperature.
Be very careful of using hairdryers/blow-dryers because these are loud and can scare your bunny further – exacerbating the stress response and leading to further issues.
You can also accidentally burn and scold your rabbit especially on their more sensitive areas e.g. nose, ears and skin.
This is generally a good way to handle any situation where your bunny becomes wet – even accidentally.
However, if your rabbit is to be completed submerged or very wet, it is advised that you contact a vet immediately.
They will be able to advise you on the appropriate course of action and help you to support your rabbit in this time of need.
When Should A Rabbit Be Bathed?
Bathing your rabbit is generally not required – they do a very good job at keeping themselves clean and hygienic.
However, there are certain circumstances in where bathing your bunny may actually be required or even benefical.
For example, if you have a larger or older rabbit, or one suffering from a painful condition such as arthritis, they may be unable to properly clean all areas of their body.
One such body part to be aware of is the perineal (anus and sexual organs) which is known to become very dirty. This is where urine and feces can collect.
In such events that mess is to collect, you can look to provide safe bathing for your rabbit.
How you actually bathe them will of course depend on the mess; is it caked into their fur or is it still wet?
Generally, the wetter it is the easier it is to remove – and can be done so easily with talc and fragrance free baby powder (like this well-reviewed brand from Amazon)
If its dry you may need to give the area a gentle rinse and perhaps even a careful soak.
How To Bathe A Rabbit Safely
There are generally three types of bathes that you can give your rabbit. Each being appropriate and beneficial to different contexts.
From your rabbits perspective, they tend to prefer a dry bath as this does not include any water. While its the safest, it only really works when the mess on your rabbit is wet.
Caked feces however, will usually require a gentle rinse/soak in order for you to be able to safely remove it. Rinses are advised with mess that is semi-dry, soaks are recommended for more persistent mess.
Its always best to edge on the side of caution and opt for dry baths if you can. However, if needs be, you should venture into offering a rinse/soak as sometimes this is the only way for you to be able to effectively clean your rabbit.
How To Give A Rabbit A Dry Bath
The safest bath to offer; this method does not include any water as the name suggests. Its what you should attempt first before moving onto the other techniques.
Here are the steps involved:
- Start by purchasing some talc-free baby powder. As mentioned before, this is a good brand to opt for from Amazon.
- Place your rabbit gently onto their back so that their stomach is facing the ceiling.
- Slowly apply the baby powder to the areas of the body that have caked feces/mess.
- Massage the powder through the fut – you should notice feces and clumps beginning to fall away.
- Never force clumps of feces from your rabbits fur as this can be painful, damage your rabbits skin and scare your rabbit. Sometimes using a soft-headed brush is required and works well.
- Place all the removed clumps into a plastic bag that you have inside out nearby.
- Lastly, once all dirt has been removed, brush the baby powder of your rabbit.
How To Give A Rabbit A Rinse Bath
For this type of bathing, you will need access to a sink/bath and a rabbit-safe shampoo. This is perhaps the best one available on Amazon.
Here are the steps involved.
- Hold your rabbit gently but firmly (so they cannot escape in a sink/bath). Then use your shower head (on the lowest setting possible at a luke-warm temperature) to the dirty area on your rabbits body. Lightly get your rabbits fure wet. Just a small amount so that you can use the shampoo.
- Be sure not get their entire body, especially inside the ears, wet.
- Gently clean your rabbit and remove any dirt/grime from rabbit’s fur, using the rabbit-safe shampoo. Sometimes a soft-brush can work well to remove bundles of feces.
- Once complete, take your bunny out of the bath and dry them off completely.
How To Give A Rabbit A Soak Bath
When the time calls for a soak bath, you’ll need to be extra cautious. Only use this bathing technique when absolutely required.
Again, it is advised to use a sink/bath for this method and use some rabbit-safe shampoo.
Here are the steps involved:
- Begin by adding some luke-warm water to the sink/bath. Typically 1-2″ in height is usually enough.
- Gently lower your rabbit into the sink/bath – keeping them relaxed. Never force your bunny especially if they begin to panic.
- Ensure the water is not too hot/cold, then place your rabbit down into the water – so only their behind/affected area gets wet.
- Allow your rabbit to soak in the water for a short while. Then, using your hands, start to rub the caked feces out of your rabbit with your hands. This is also a good time to use the shampoo.
- Slowly massage the shampoo through your rabbits fur – keep your rabbit calm at all times and be slow in movement.
- Once complete, take your bunny out of the bath and dry them off completely.
Reward and Keep Your Rabbit Comforted
Regardless of what bathing method you use, you should look to reduce any stress and make them feel safe and comfortable as swiftly as you can.
To do this, first ensure they have been dried safely and effectively using clean towels. Then put them in a safe and warm place to relax.
Be sure to treat your rabbit – whether this be with vegetables, fruits or snacks designed for rabbits.
Generally speaking, rabbits should not get wet. They are just not cut out for it nor do they respond well to it.
As an owner, it is your responsibility to keep them safe and to keep them comfortable. Ensuring they never get wet, be it through unnecessary bathing or rain, is very important.
That being said, rabbits may require a bathe from time to time. This is especially true in rabbits who are unable to clean themselves naturally like they are known to do.
When bathing, thankfully there are different options available. Dust baths afford us the ability to give them a clean and keep water use at a minimum. From there, rabbit-safe shampoo can make the cleaning process easier and less water being required.
Ultimately, you do not want your rabbit to have to sit and live in their filth. Its not good for hygiene purposes nor their health. Do not let bacteria thrive by leaving urine/feces to fester. If in doubt – clean it off. Albeit safely.
At the end of the day, its about minimizing your rabbits exposure to water as best you can.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.