Trimming toenails is a part of grooming that many people tend to over-look, or simply may be afraid of doing. On the flip side of this, however, nail trimmings are an important part of keeping your bunny in good health. Because rabbits depend very heavily on the feet, over-grown, or excessively long toenails can cause a multitude of problems, especially sore hocks. Regardless of what breed your rabbit is, his nails should be checked and, if needed, trimmed at least once a month. As long as you look at each nail that you are clipping, there should be little to no worries of cutting the nail too short, which may cause bleeding.
The best way to clip your bunny’s nails is to sit down, with the rabbit on your lap. After he’s been given a bit of petting, securely roll him over onto his back. Hold one foot at a time with one hand, while pressing your thumb into the pad of that foot, causing the nails to as visible as possible. You should see that each nail has two parts. The part closest to the foot will have a line thru the center of it. This may be harder to see with dark nails, but you will definitely be able to notice that this back part of the nail is thicker than the front have. The separation of nail-thickness will show you where the vein is present at. With the clippers in your other hand, look at one nail at a time. Place the cutting edge of the clipper just a little below the vein-line (on the thinner end of the nail). Then simply cut the nail as you would if you were cutting your own – pressing the clipper-handles together and it will cut. From there, simply move on and repeat each toenail on that foot, then switch to the next foot and repeat until all nails have been done.
What if bleeding occurs?
In case the bunny jumps or if you accidently do cut into the vein and bleeding occurs, do not panic. It is very simple to fix. Just dab a bit of Styptic Powder, Blood-Stop, or even household cornstarch onto the nail. That will induce clotting and the bleeding will quickly stop. After 5 or 10 minutes has passed, recheck to bleeding nail to be sure it has stopped. If the nail is still bleeding, hold the bunny on your lap so that he is lying on his back, and lift that foot up (so that it is stretched out and held upright, above his body), lightly apply pressure to the wrist/ankle joint, and hold in place for a few minutes; applying more powder to the area can also be done by pressing it onto the already applied amount – no need to wipe off what is there, just add to it. If bleeding is profuse and is not slowing down, immediately contact your vet for further assistance.