rabbits nails

A Step-By-Step Guide To Clipping Your Rabbit's Nails

Posted by Daniel on 30 September 2022

Rabbit nail trimming is an important aspect of rabbit care, especially when it comes to grooming. Pet rabbits do experience overgrown nails from time to time. These nails keep growing just the same way their teeth do. 

Leaving it that way can be very uncomfortable for both you and your pet. If you hold your rabbit times and see scratches afterward on your arms, you’ll know what I’m talking about. 

However, if you do not have a way to wear them down, you need to trim them often. However, if you do it wrongly, you might hurt your fluffy pet during the process. 

However, there's no need to worry. To make sure you get it right, I’ve put up an article that will guide you in every step in trimming your rabbit’s nails.

Keep reading below!


rabbit, cute, paw

What You Need!

Before we jump into the nail trimming guide, here are the few things you need to get your rabbit’s nails trimmed successfully.

  • Get a pair of animal nail clippers, especially the ones made for cats or bunnies. These kinds of clippers have a rounded edge, which suits the nature of your rabbit’s claws.

  • You will as well need a helping hand. S/he will help hold your rabbit for you. It makes nail trimming very easy. 

  • Get dry towels. To wrap your rabbit as well as the surface where you'll place them. 

  • Get a cotton ball and a styptic powder ready. They're both for emergencies. Just in case you clip your rabbit’s nails too short and it starts to bleed

  • Remember to get some treats for your rabbit. Your rabbit needs to be as comfortable as possible.

rabbit's nails clipping

By Sarah & Eric Sorlien

Take Note: 

A rabbit has a vein inside each nail called a quick. This quick is the blood supply that goes into the rabbit’s nail. Moreover, you can spot the quick through its light pinkish color.

Most importantly, you should try to avoid the quick when trimming the nails. If you cut through the quick, it will bleed and equally hurt your rabbit. And you do not want this, right? So, your goal is to cut below the quick!

How to Trim Your Rabbit's Nails – 7 Easy Steps

Step #1: Keep Your Rabbit on a Tall Surface

Start by placing your rabbit on a stable surface that’s high above the ground. This makes rabbit nail clipping easier as you don’t have to bend while doing it. 

Additionally, it prevents your rabbit from hopping away. Moreover, don’t always place a towel on the surface before placing your rabbit on it. This helps your rabbit gain a good grip on it.

rabbit care

Step #2: Make Your Pet Comfortable

Once your pet is on the surface, wrap it in a towel. Now, this is when your holder (the other person) comes in handy. However, you can still do this yourself. 

Simply hold your rabbit close to you (against your body). This way, they’ll feel secure. In addition, this process aims to keep your rabbit calm and under control for their safety. 

However, if your rabbit gets uncomfortable and starts to struggle during this process, you should stop right away and restart the whole thing. As soon as your pet calms down, set them up again. 

Moreover, you shouldn’t forget to reward your rabbit with treats for being calm. At the same time, this can lure them to be wrapped in the towel again.

rabbits nails

By David Masters

Step #3: Hold Out Your Rabbit's Paw

Start by wrapping one arm around your rabbit. Afterward, grab and gently pull each front paw out from beneath your rabbit with the same arm. 

This should be your left arm, as your right arm will handle the clipping. However, it should be the other way around if you are left-handed. 

In addition, a better way to do this is to have someone else (your holder) hold your rabbit foot out for you to clip. All you’ll have to concentrate on is trimming your pet’s nails. 

rabbit's foot, rabbit flinches, clipping nails

By USFWS - Pacific Region

Step #4: Trim the Nails on the Front Paws

First of all, you should know that your rabbit has a total of five claws on each front paw – four true claws and a dewclaw. Hence, you will be trimming 10 claws in total on your rabbit’s front feet. 

Nevertheless, when your rabbit’s paw is held out, do not clip it immediately. Try to locate the quick first! However, you can't spot it easily and most rabbits have darker-colored nails, which make it even harder.

An easy way to do this is to squeeze their claw gently with the clipper. This should be a squeeze that isn’t meant to clip through the nail. If you do this and your rabbit reacts or draws back its paw, it indicates that you’re too close to the quick. 

However, if you accidentally cut through the quick and it starts to bleed, clean the injured nail with a cotton ball and apply styptic powder to it quickly. Afterward, continue to trim all the nails short on your rabbit’s front paws.

House rabbit society, nail bed, sore hocks

Pro Advice: Take a break from time to time during nail clipping, pet your rabbit to keep them calm, and equally offer them some treats!

Step #5: Trim the Nails on the Back Paws

Unlike the front feet, rabbit toenails are eight altogether. So you only need to take care of four nails each on their back feet. 

However, trimming nails on your rabbit’s back paws can be quite challenging, especially if you do it alone. This is why you need to take care of their front feet first. 

As you grab your rabbit by the hind feet, it might try to hop away. To make this easy, lift your rabbit by its chest with one arm allowing only its back feet to be on the table (surface). 

If you have someone hold your rabbit for you in this position, it’s way easier. Whichever way you do this, carefully begin to trim your rabbit’s toenails.

However, if you accidentally cut through the quick and a nail starts bleeding, do not hesitate to use the styptic powder.

grooming glove, many rabbits, small pet

Step #6: Inspect All Your Rabbit’s Nails

Carefully inspect all your rabbit’s feet to make sure you’ve given them a good nail trim.  Moreover, you should do this one foot at a time to make sure everything is okay. 

It’s equally important that you check every of your rabbit's feet for nails you clipped too short that might b bleeding. Clean it up and apply styptic powder to it immediately.

over a decade rabbit, small pet rabbits

Step #7: Reward Your Rabbit with Some Treats

Give your rabbit treats as a prize for good behavior and a job well done. This can encourage your pet to comply much better during the next nail-clipping session.

Overgrown Rabbit Nails – What You Need to Know

When your rabbit's nails are so long that they begin to create problems, it means they are overgrown. These overgrown nails can leave severe rabbit scratches on your body whenever you handle your pet. 

But that’s not all! If your rabbit nails keep growing beyond an appropriate length, the “quick” in the nails grows too. This way, it will be harder to clip your rabbit’s nails short. 

To restore their nails to an appropriate length, you have to clip off only the tip of their nails very often – about every week. Moreover, this will allow the quick to adjust to the nail size gradually.

rabbits, small mammals, daunting task

When a rabbit has very long nails can experience problems where its nails can get trapped on materials like carpets. As a result, these nails are likely to break or rip off when your pet quickly moves or struggles to set itself free.

Overgrown rabbit nails can equally stress the feet. Your rabbit will try to adjust its weight due to excessively long nails. This, in turn, can make your pet walk abnormally.

Your Rabbit's Nail Came All the Way Off – What to Do

First of all, you should know that this rarely happens. However, certain accidents can bring about this issue. 

For instance, a rabbit can suddenly move when its nail is about to be clipped. And as a result, the nail can completely rip off. Stop the bleeding with a cotton ball and then leave your rabbit to do the rest of the cleaning.

Furthermore, you need to inspect the wound from time to time to make sure there’s no infection whatsoever. In addition to this, swelling or redness around the nail root is not a good sign. 

rabbits nails start curling in an unnatural way

When you notice this, it means you need to take your pet to the vet right away. However, in the absence of any infection, your rabbit should be totally fine in a short while. 

As for the injured digit, the nail is likely to grow back or not. But regardless of the outcome, your rabbit will still move about freely without issues.

How Do You Calm a Rabbit During Nail Clipping

A rabbit needs to be properly restrained during nail clipping. If a rabbit isn't relaxed, many problems can arise. 

Hence, you have to make sure the rabbit is calm before and while you trim nails. Begin this by slowly wrapping the bunny in a towel. 

Afterward, you should pet the rabbit so that they are relaxed. Do this by gently stroking the rabbit’s head and back. A way to know if rabbits are relaxed is to watch their eyes. 

That’s right! Their eyes should be slightly or fully closed. In addition, while trimming rabbit nails, talk calmly to them to make them feel more comfortable.

rabbits, rabbits 5 toes on the front paw

Related Questions:

How Often Should I Trim My Rabbit’s Nails?

Make out time every month for rabbit nail clipping. However, I recommend that you clip your rabbit’s nails whenever you notice they’ve grown so long. 

All you have to do is monitor their nail length from time to time. Spotting a rabbit’s overgrown nails differs from rabbit to rabbit. 

For a furry rabbit with long hair, you should check if the nails are growing beyond the excess fur on the paws. If this is the case, your bunny’s nails are pretty long and require trimming.

Alternatively, you can check if your rabbit’s claws have started to curl. This applies to every breed. Moreover, it’s another simple way to know when your rabbit nails need trimming. Above all, whenever you trim, aim for only the tip of the nails. 

How Do Rabbits Naturally Trim their Nails

Rabbits naturally trim their nails unknowingly and this is common with wild rabbits. In the wild, they live in warrens – a large community of rabbit burrows. 

So, a major activity they do is digging burrows. They spend a lot of them doing this. As a result, it keeps their nails in check. While digging around their dirt, their nails often erode. And this prevents it from overgrowing. 

Similarly, you can provide your pet rabbit with hard surfaces to walk on and areas to burrow very often. These are good ways to keep their nails short without clipping them.

Can You Use Human Nail Clippers on Rabbits Nails

No, do not clip rabbit nails with human nail clippers. These kinds of clippers are made for humans’ thin and flat nails. Rabbits on the other hand have very thick and round nails.

Hence, the ideal clippers to use are animal nail clippers, especially for small pet animals. However, in case you can’t find nail clippers made for small animals like guinea pigs and rabbits, cat nail clippers are fine to use.

cute rabbits, nails

Final Thoughts

To sum up, I hope I’ve shown you how to trim your rabbit’s nails easily. As part of rabbit care, your pet’s nails must be kept short. Remember never to use human nail clippers to do it.

In addition, it’s always good to start nail trimming when your rabbit is still very young so they can get used to it over time. As you do it, try as much as possible to stay away from the quick.

I understand that trimming your rabbit nails can be frightening, but don’t be discouraged. Many rabbit owners fear doing it at first, but with time they learned to handle it. 

Hence, if you’ve checked and you’re sure that rabbit nail clipping isn’t something you can handle, feel free to take your pet to the vet. 

Your rabbit’s health is very important. So your goal should be to have your bunny's nails trimmed in the safest way possible.

If you found this article helpful or have some more tips to add, please comment below.

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