Ear care tips for your disabled rabbit.
Ear Care and the Disabled Rabbit
An important part of rabbit hygiene that many disabled rabbit owners overlook is ear care. Many disabled rabbits, due to their disabilities, are no longer able to clean their ears. Lop-eared rabbits especially need help keeping their ears clean. Similar to how we manually clean our ears when there is buildup, rabbits need ear buildup managed. When they are no longer able to do it, we must help.
What to Use
A simple, long-stemmed cotton swap will work well for ear cleaning. The picture on the right shows the difference in length between regular cotton swabs and long-stemmed cotton swabs. We recommend the longer ones as they allow for better reach into a rabbit's long ears. They can be purchased very inexpensively from most online veterinary supply stores.
A great alternative to cotton swabs is an ear wax remover such as this one, which conveniently has a light attached to help you see inside your rabbit's ears. The LED light does not heat up, and so is safe for your rabbit. There is a gentle cup at the end for easily scooping out wax. In all, this is a great, easy-to-use alternative to help you keep your disabled rabbit's ears clean. These can be found for sale online or at medical supply stores.
If you do not have one of the pre-lit ear cleaners recommended above, we recommend considering a headlamp to help you see. When cleaning a rabbit's ears, it is often very difficult to see inside the ear and spot buildup while also managing to restrain your rabbit and use the cotton swab. A headlamp goes around the top of your head, with the light resting on your forehead. The light can be angled downwards and directly into your rabbit's ear as you look inside them to clean. You may look a bit silly, but we find that it is a great help. These headlamps can be purchased at most sports stores or major stores such as Wal-Mart or Target in the camping or flashlight section.
How to Do It
- Insert a cotton swab into the outer part of your rabbit's ear. Some people lightly wet the cotton part of the swab to reduce fuzz.
- Press the cotton swab gently against the inside of the ear underneath a wax buildup.
- Scoop under the wax buildup gently with the tip of the swab in a rolling motion.
- Drag the buildup outwards until it is free of the ear.
- Repeat as necessary.
Precautions and Tips
- Try to make ear cleaning a gentle and non-forceful experience for your rabbit. Making them feel comfortable will make the process of cleaning easier and make the overall experience more pleasurable for you and your rabbit.
- While you are cleaning your rabbit's ears, check for any unusual buildup, redness or discharge. Consult your veterinarian if your rabbit's ears look sore, scaly or have any black discharge. This may be a sign of mites or other type of infection.
- Be careful not to push any wax deeper into the ear as this can lodge it inside and cause damage to the sensitive inner part of the ear.
- Do not touch or enter the ear canal or any areas that are not immediately visible.
- Rabbit's ears contain a fragile blood vessel system with many veins running through them. Be cautious not to pinch or scratch them.
- Do not pour water or anything else directly into your rabbit's ears. There are cleaning solutions available to help you with cleaning, but talk with your veterinarian about how to use them properly.