Micah Feeding

Vet Speak

In this section, Dr. Micah Kohles, Oxbow’s Director of Veterinary Science and Outreach, answers all of your animal health related questions.  If you have a question for Dr. Kohles regarding the health or behavior of your small animal, send it to web@oxbowanimalhealth.com.

"What is the best method to trim rabbit's nails? They don't like to be picked up and if I do they remember how I managed to grab them. So afterwards they avoid me and however I tricked them to pick them up.... I used to take them to the vet to trim their nails, but that stresses them out even more. Any suggestions would be most appreciated." – Tanya

This starts with shifting their perspective of the event. If they view the activity as threatening, painful or scary, no matter which technique you use, they are going to be stressed, try to avoid you, and, in general terms, not like you for messing with them. It starts with positioning and finding a position that they are comfortable in, and one that allows you access to their feet. I always recommend a nice, slow massaging approach to the feet as well so it is not abrupt and sudden. Start with as simple as one toe or one foot and give the little one a break to let them relax, scan their environment and realize they are going to survive this scary process. Trim a very small amount to start as well so they get use to the feeling and you don’t run the risk of hitting their quick. 

It is also essential to use a good nail trimmer that is sharp. Cheap or old nail trimmers are often dull or poorly designed and don’t effectively cut the nail they instead crush the nail and cause discomfort during the trimming process. I know very few bunnies who “love” to have their nails trimmed, but I do know many bunnies who aren’t scared of the process and tolerate it quite well. This doesn’t happen overnight and it requires consistency and patience to develop those types of behaviors in rabbits with something that is new and unknown to them. I believe there is a good article or two on rabbit grooming on the House Rabbit Society’s website at www.rabbit.org.

Happy clipping!

Sincerely,

Dr. Micah Kohles, DVM, MPA
Director of Veterinary Science and Outreach
Oxbow Animal Health