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According to the statistics, pet rabbits are the third most popular exotic pets in the US, right after fish and ferrets. More than 40% of people who keep small animals at home choose rabbits because they’re relatively easier to care for than other pets.
But as a rabbit owner, you should be asking yourself a few questions about the best way to keep your bunny safe.
So, can rabbits wear collars? Can rabbits wear a harness?
You’ve come to the right place because you’ll find the answers to all your questions in this article. So, let’s dive in.
Can Rabbits Wear Collars?
Rabbits can’t and shouldn’t wear collars.
Some owners think collars are OK for rabbits, especially because bunnies love to roam around. So, buying a collar for your pet rabbit makes sense because you’ll be able to take it around for walks.
But a collar can greatly harm your pet bunny for several reasons.
- Rabbits can easily get startled by any sudden movement or voice. With a collar, the rabbit can easily get caught in any object, which leads to a broken neck or strangulation, and in both cases, your bunny won’t be able to survive.
- The rabbit won’t be able to feel comfortable while wearing a collar, so it will actively try to remove it, usually getting its mouth or foot stuck. If you’re not around, the bunny can easily injure itself.
- Having something around your rabbit’s neck is something that will make it panic. Bunnies have weak hearts and can even die if they’re too scared.
- The tightness of the collar will harm the rabbit’s delicate skin and wear away the fur. As a result, your pet will suffer from painful skin infections.
Can Rabbits Wear Breakaway Collars?
Breakaway or quick-release collars are quite popular among pet owners.
These look just like regular collars but have an extremely important feature.
When the collar gets caught on something, it snaps open. As a result, it protects your pet from the hazards of being choked or strangled.
This is why most cat and dog owners invest in these collars because they can keep their pets safe.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about rabbits.
Compared to cats and dogs, rabbits have smaller and weaker bodies. They also often get their feet and mouths stuck in the collar as they’re trying to break free.
As a result, there won’t be much force or pressure that forces the collar to snap open, and your pet rabbit will probably get choked if the collar gets stuck on something.
If you’re using a breakaway collar while walking your rabbit outside, it won’t be a good idea either. When there’s enough pressure, the collar will open in the right circumstances, allowing the rabbit to roam freely.
Since you’ll be walking your rabbit outside the house, it’ll probably run away and hide in a burrow, so you won’t be able to find it.
A cat or a dog is less likely to run away from you.
Can a Rabbit Wear a Flea Collar?
Rabbits get fleas less frequently than other pets in the house and are actually more likely to get them if there’s an infected dog or cat in the same household.
Nevertheless, when your rabbit gets fleas, you should immediately start a treatment plan to avoid the side effects of a serious infection. Here are some signs that your bunny is infected with fleas.
- While stroking and grooming your pet rabbit, you might be able to see some fleas flying around, especially around the neck.
- You can see that your rabbit is usually biting or nibbling on its skin.
- Excessive licking of the skin is also a sign of flea infestation.
- You might be able to see some red bumps on the rabbit’s skin when you part the fur.
- You can see flea dirt, which is a mixture of dry blood and flea poop on the rabbit’s body.
- Your bunny will start to experience fur loss and scaling on the skin.
- When an infection is left untreated for a long period, it can lead to anemia due to excessive blood loss.
However, wearing a flea collar isn’t suitable for your pet bunny. As a matter of fact, it can actually do more harm than a flea infestation.
Although a flea collar works for treating your cat or dog, it won’t work for your pet bunny for the following reasons.
- Rabbits can get injured when they’re wearing flea collars because they have delicate necks that can easily snap if the collar gets stuck on any object while they’re running or playing.
- Because rabbits usually feel uncomfortable while wearing collars, your pet bunny will probably try to chew on the collar. Unfortunately, this means that it will ingest a chemical that is supposed to be used as a topical treatment, and in most cases, these chemicals are poisonous.
- Some flea treatments, like fipronil, are safe for cats and dogs but are poisonous to rabbits.
- Even if the collar contains a safe treatment for the bunny, the dosage will be too high.
The same applies to flea powders and topical treatments that you can safely use with your cat or dog. Baths can be quite stressful for bunnies, and your rabbit might get into shock and die if you’re trying to give it a bath to get rid of fleas.
You should even keep your cat or dog away from the rabbit for several days if it has been treated with a fipronil-based medication.
If your rabbit is infested with fleas, you should consult the vet. He or she will prescribe special medications that are specifically designed to be safely used for bunnies.
These treatments contain prescription drugs that won’t harm your pet rabbit and will help get rid of fleas fast.
Using a flea comb, you can also reduce the number of fleas that need to be dealt with in your rabbit’s fur.
Brushing the fur will eliminate the adult fleas, the larvae, and the eggs. Although this method is time-consuming, it’s one of the best ways to get rid of fleas without using any chemicals that can potentially harm your bunny.
Can Rabbits Wear a Harness?
If you’re walking your rabbit outside, then a harness will definitely be a better option than a collar.
Rabbits’ movements are unpredictable, so your bunny is likely to run really fast and then stop all of a sudden to sniff the air or dig. When this happens, a harness will be better than a collar.
The harness distributes the pressure all over the body instead of restricting it to the neck. So, stopping suddenly won’t put huge pressure on the rabbit’s delicate and fragile neck or spine.
Luckily, there are different types of harnesses that you can try.
- The H-harness is an excellent choice for bunnies, especially the feisty ones that don’t stop moving. It’s designed to distribute the pressure along the rabbit’s neck and body, so it doesn’t feel as restrictive as a collar.
- The coat harness looks and is worn just like a vest and comes with Velcro straps or buttons. So not only will it enable you to walk your bunny in peace, but it can also keep it warm if the weather is chilly.
- The shoulder harness puts pressure on the rabbit’s shoulders instead of the neck, so it’s more suitable for younger bunnies with fragile bodies. It goes all around the body and under the front legs, so your rabbit might need time to get used to it.
A harness shouldn’t be worn all the time, or your bunny will be extremely uncomfortable. You should also make sure that it’s the right fit.
If the harness is too tight, your rabbit will be in pain and will be so scared every time you try to put it on. If it’s too loose, it might get its foot stuck, which can lead to a painful injury.
You should make sure that you’re able to slip a finger or two between the bunny’s body and the harness, as this will be the correct fit.
There are other types of harnesses like the rope harness and the 8-shaped harness, but these are dangerous and can harm your bunny. A good harness will cover a larger area of the rabbit’s body for even pressure distribution.
Your bunny needs time to get used to the harness, so you can make it wear it for a few minutes at home and then take it off. Try to put it on a few times during the day to get your rabbit used to it.
Make sure that you offer treats when your rabbit is wearing the harness, so it knows that putting it is fun and rewarding.
Can Rabbits Go on Walks?
Rabbits appreciate having free playtime where they can roam around without restrictions. This should be done in a bunny-proofed area to guarantee the rabbit’s safety.
However, you can definitely take your rabbit for a walk, just like a dog, and it will appreciate this outdoor exercise.
But these animals are fond of running freely. They love to jump and dig, so they won’t be feeling comfortable if they’re walking according to your pace.
In order to have a successful walk with your rabbit, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration.
- Rabbits need training, so before taking your bunny for a walk outside, you should try to train it at home.
- Your rabbit will be resistant to wearing the harness in the beginning, no matter how comfortable it looks. Patience is the key to getting your bunny used to the harness.
- Choosing a good leash is just as important as picking the harness. It should be stretchy, so it doesn’t snap or pull the rabbit’s body too hard if it suddenly stops.
- If you’re not sure about the best way to get your rabbit used to the harness and leash, you can take a leash-training class. In this class, you’ll learn about the best way to walk your rabbit and how to train it without hurting it.
- If your rabbit has never been outside the house, put its cage outside a few times during the week to get it used to the surroundings. Make sure that you’re keeping an eye on it and that it’s in a safe area.
- Choose a safe spot to walk your pet rabbit for the first time. You can start with your backyard.
- Keep other pets inside the house and make sure that there are no big animals around as they can startle your bunny.
- When you choose a park or a public place to walk your rabbit, make sure that there’s enough grass and dandelions that the bunny can enjoy.
- Ask the local authorities about weed killers or pesticides used in public areas. A rabbit ingesting these chemicals will suffer from poisoning and might die.
- Stick to the same area every time you walk your rabbit to reduce its anxiety and help it cope faster.
- Offer treats to encourage your rabbit but make sure that you’re not offering too many to avoid obesity.
- Watch out for broken glass and rubbish. You need to make sure that the spot is clean and free of any hazards that might injure your bunny.
- Don’t walk your rabbit in scorching weather. If it’s too hot, carry it while it’s walking on the sidewalk, as its paws can easily get burned.
- Make sure that it’s not the busiest time of the day. Too many people and too much noise can easily scare your bunny.
- Start with shorter walks every day until your rabbit gets used to walking outside the house.
- Never take your eyes off your bunny while walking it.
- Follow the rabbit’s lead, and don’t try to pull it.
- Don’t tie the leash to an object and leave the rabbit unattended while you’re away.
- If you witness any signs of distress, pick up your rabbit and soothe it until it feels comfortable.
Collars aren’t suitable for rabbits and can lead to serious injuries when worn. Even flea collars are dangerous because the medications used might work for your dog or cat but will kill your bunny.
If you want to take your rabbit for a walk, a harness will be a better option. You need to make sure that it’s comfortable and fits right to avoid discomfort and distress.