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2007-44

Dear Reba Rabbit

Our rabbit’s nails are quite long. Can he be declawed?

Reba Responds

No, we rabbits aren’t declawed. Instead, our nails should be trimmed regularly.

You may make an appointment at the animal hospital, where an experienced veterinary technician or assistant will trim your rabbit’s nails.

Or you may trim them yourself, using a nail trimmer designed for cats or small dogs.

The most important part of the task is to carefully restrain your rabbit. Our backs are fragile, and if we squirm or kick too hard, the back can break, resulting in paralysis.

So it’s important to keep your rabbit calm throughout nail trimming by restraining him gently in whatever manner he prefers.

Some rabbits like to be held like babies, on their backs in their human’s arms or on their laps.

Other rabbits enjoy being swathed in a towel, sticking one paw out at a time.

I prefer to settle on the floor and have the person restraining me hold her arms parallel to each other, against the sides of my body.

Once your rabbit is restrained, cut off the tip of the nail, avoiding the quick, which contains the blood vessels.

If it’s difficult to see the quick because your rabbit’s nails are dark, reveal it by shining a flashlight behind the nail.
If you accidentally cut the quick, stop the bleeding by packing the nail tip with styptic powder, corn starch or flour.

If your rabbit squirms, stop until he relaxes. You may be able to complete only one foot at a sitting, at least at first.

When you’re finished, reward your rabbit with a treat so he’ll be happy to have you trim his nails in the future.

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