How To Trim Rabbit and Bunny Claws

Having to clip bunny or rabbit claws can be a scary thought.  Scary for rabbits and scary for people.  But, it truly doesn’t have to be traumatic.  It really can be quick and easy.  But before you dive into your own rabbit claw clipping venture you can take the bunny to your vet or to a groomer and pay somewhere around $16 to $20 and not only get the job done but learn how they do it.  I believe Petco and Pet World do this.  It’s worth it for the education alone.   Or you might have an experienced rabbit owner friend who would show you. 

When you do decide to tackle the job on your own you can always take it in small bites - no, bad word.  Small paws.  Like one paw at a time if either of you feel stressed.  You will both get better with experience.  I used to be so afraid of cutting into the quick and making the bunny bleed.  But, you can start by removing just the tiniest bit of the claw while you and the rabbit get the hang of it. 

Here’s a step by step guide to move you through a stress-free nail clipping.

  • In addition to the rabbit, collect a towel, styptic powder and clippers.  I use the small animal nail clippers for my little Holland Lop but the guillotine type works well for larger rabbits.  You can see what you’re doing a lot better with animal nail clippers than with human nail clippers.  Pick a cool location so the rabbit, especially if wrapped in a towel, doesn’t become overheated.
  • Wrap a wiggly rabbit in a towel and pull one leg out at a time.  I trained my lop to lie in my lap on her back from infancy so it was easy to clip her nails.  But, a wiggler must be gently but firmly restrained as bunny gymnastics can result in injury to themselves.  Support and restrain the hind end well.rabbit_nail.JPG
  • Clip off just the tip of each nail.  If you have a case of severely overgrown nails you can come back at a different session and take off a little more if you feel unsure of how far back to clip.  (See the diagram for where to cut.)  It’s better  to trim often (every 3 to 4 weeks) because the quick grows out longer as the nail gets longer.  The reverse is also true.  The quick will regress if the nail is clipped frequently. 
  • Even the most careful clipper might sometime clip into the quick and cause bleeding.  Remain calm and this is what you do to stop the bleeding:  After wiping away the blood, apply a commercial styptic powder like Kwik Stop or Safari by Coastal.  Actually corn starch or flour work the same way.  Just take a pinch and press it to the tip of the nail.  The important thing is that you not leave the rabbit unattended until you are sure the bleeding has stopped. Check all nails for bleeding before returning the bunny to its cage or releasing it.

It’s a little more difficult if your rabbit has black toe nails because it can be impossible to see the pink vein of the quick.  So you take an educated guess (see diagram).  The tip of the nail is very narrow usually and sometimes looks hollow if you look at it from underneath.  If the bunny has a light toe nail anywhere you can use that to compare.  Just keep your styptic powder near just in case you miscalculate in the beginning. 



This video demonstrates how to trim rabbit or bunny claws.  Notice the football hold she uses.


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