Nail Trimming 101
Rabbit's nails should be trimmed every 4 - 6 weeks. Like humans, nail trimming is painless if done properly and often. Unlike humans, rabbits only have 18 nails (including their dew claws). When trimming your rabbit nails, be mindful of the kwik and avoid cutting into it.
If your rabbit is sensitive, use a dog nail grinder for a more precise trim. It may take a few tries to get the hang of but, combined with nylon to separate the fur from the nails, this technique works quite well for cutting them as short as possible. We use a dremel on the tiny baby bunny nails. Hold the base of the nail between two fingers, as the nail will vibrate and give the rabbit a weird sensation if not held in place. Apply pressure, cutting at a 45° angle.
A faster method for trimming nails is using traditional kitten nail clippers. While this way may seem more effective, it is easier to make a mistake and cut into the kwik. Try the "press, press, clip" method; if the rabbit pulls away when you apply pressure to the nail, it is likely you are too close to the kwik and need to adjust the length you take off.
What is the best position to hold rabbits in while trimming?
You can either hold them on their backs on your lap (with their head above their heart) or have somebody hold your rabbit while you do the trimming. For squirmy bunnies, use a blanket to wrap them in a "bunny burrito".
How do I separate the rabbit's fur from the nails?
Take a small piece of nylon and gently push the nails through OR dip the paw in a bowl of water. Both of these methods are foolproof ways to separate the fur from their nails and make trimming easy!
I don't feel comfortable cutting my rabbit's nails at home. Where can I get them trimmed?
Many vets will trim your rabbit's nails for around $10-$20 (most include it in annual check-ups). Some pet stores and pet grooming salons charge around $5-$15 for the service, but it is very important to make sure they are experienced! Or, try contacting the breeder/rescue you got your rabbit from, to see if they can help with a demonstration.
What is the "dewclaw"?
The dewclaw functions as a bunny thumb. Unlike the rest of the nails, the dewclaws are on an angle, making them difficult to cut. There's a total of two, and they are located on the inner front paws. To trim, use the same method as you would on the other nails.
What is the kwik?
The kwik is a little vein that supplies blood to the nail and causes the rabbit pain if you cut into it.
My rabbit has dark-colored nails. How do I distinguish where the kwik is?
Most rabbits have white nails, making it easy to see the pink kwik and know where you should trim to. However, some rabbits have dark-colored nails which make it near impossible to know how far you can safely cut! Use a flashlight and shine it through the nail to help you distinguish the location of the blood vessel.
Help! I cut into the kwik by accident, and now my rabbit is bleeding and seems in pain. What should I do?
It is very important to have kwik powder on hand before nail trimming. If you cut too far, you will need to stop the bleeding and prevent the rabbit from additional pain by dipping their nail in the powder. White flour also works to stop the bleeding.