The Dreaded Rabbit Mani/Pedi
I have had my run-ins with neglected rabbits and one thing they all have in common.... long, gnarly nails. Even the most well intentioned rabbit owner can let their rabbit's nails grow a bit too long. Here are some tips to make nail trimming easier!
1. Pick a Sweet Rabbit from the Start
Rabbits are only relatively recently 'domesticated' and so most of their brain power is still spent on self preservation of running away and hiding. Even the sweetest, most docile rabbit may not like being picked up or removed from their cage. My rabbits love being pet in their cages, or calm down if they are out and settled in my lap, but in between... watch out! They are so afraid of being dropped, they struggle and kick, and they are very well behaved rabbits! Get a rabbit that isn't sweet and getting them out of their cage/pen will become a nightmare. Make sure you get a pedigreed rabbit, because that breeding usually picks for the most docile, well-behaved rabbits. If you think you are getting a deal off Craigslist or from your shelter.. BEWARE! More than likely, you are going to buy a rabbit that isn't friendly and is going to be more than a headache when it comes to pampering. Also, learn about breeds. Some breeds are generally nicer than others. For example, Mini Rex are smaller and people think they will make better pets, but Standard Rex have larger brains and generally make friendlier pets.
2. Find the Right Cage/Pen for Getting your Rabbit In and Out
A cage that is difficult to get your rabbit out of is not worth the time or money you spent on it. It's already uncomfortable for everyone to get them out of the cage, so a difficult door or setup will only discourage you even more. I personally prefer two doors that swing out. Also, make sure you don't have any area the rabbit can hide in. This may seem counter-intuitive, because you want your rabbit to be happy and hiding should make them happy, right? Well, yes, but trust me, unless you are very lucky, the rabbit will hide from you every time you open their cage. Let the whole cage be their burrow and don't allow them to hide from you, or you will struggle every time you want to get them out of their cage/pen.
3. The Most Relaxing Technique
People have different ways to do trim nails. My favorite is the upside down relax technique. Once you get your rabbit out of the cage, find a comfortable seat and turn your rabbit upside down in your lap so they are laying on their back. Rub their head and belly until they relax. Then you can trim the nails pretty easily, until they unhypnotize and pop back up. When trimming, look for the quick and don't cut it! If you can't see the quick try to bend down and look straight through, if sunlight is on the other side. This can help show the quick. When in doubt, don't cut too low, but don't let them curl.
4. If your fur baby won't relax on their back...
Set your rabbit on a table, with our without a towel on it. Pet their back and maybe put a little treat under their nose. Then pull a foot out at a time and cut. Don't forget the thumbnail on the front foot! It can be sneaky!!
5. What Happens if you Let Their Nails Grow
Rabbits nails can grow and grow. They will start to twist and turn, making it very uncomfortable for the rabbit to walk. Also, they may change their gate so they don't hurt. This can wear the fur off their pads and cause Sore Hocks. Rex Rabbits are very inclined towards sore hocks anyway because they have very little fur on their feet anyway, so it's really important to keep their nails trimmed. If a rabbit does get sore hocks, use hemorrhoid cream on the pad to keep it from swelling and bleeding.