Pet Factsheets

Clipping your rabbit's claws

Clipping your own rabbit's claws may be something that you feel you would like to do instead of taking your rabbit to the vets and asking your vet or nurse to do it for you. If your rabbit is known to be nervous or flighty, then it is safer to get someone to help restrain your rabbit whilst you are clipping their claws or get a professional to do it for you.

What equipment will I need?

You will need a sharp pair of claw clippers, either the ones designed for rabbits or small cat clippers will be fine. Try and get ones that are quiet and don't make a 'snapping' sound when they clip through the claw, which should mean your rabbit reacts less to the sound. Scissors, or any other cutting instruments are NOT suitable and must never be used - you may cause pain to, and injure your rabbit, if you attempt to use anything other than suitable pet claw clippers. You will also need to have some cotton wool dampened with cold water, styptic pencils or silver nitrate and cottonbuds to hand, just in case you do cut your rabbits quick on any of the claws.

How should I restrain my rabbit?

It is best to sit on the floor with your rabbit so if they do try and escape, they aren't going to injure themselves and fall from a height. If this is not possible then place your rabbit on a non-slip surface, such as a table with a rubber mat underneath them to stop them from slipping around. If your rabbit is very wriggly or nervous then wrapping them in a towel is a good idea, this will give you extra control and make the rabbit feel more secure.

If you have one, your helper can restrain your rabbit by securely placing one hand either side of the body, making them feel protected and stopping them from running away whilst you clip the claws.

What is the best technique to use?

With the hand that you don't write with, gently take hold of the foot you are going to clip first, and hold your claw clippers in the other hand - this will give you the most control. 

If your rabbit has white/clear claws then you will be able to identify the pink quick, which is the blood supply to the claw, which runs down the centre of the claw. You need to clip approximately 2mm past the end of this - if you clip the claw too short you will make the quick bleed. This can be painful for the rabbit, so try to avoid it.

Open the clippers up and place them around the end of the claw, in a swift action close the clippers so they cut through the claw in its entirety. If you do happen to make the quick bleed, then hold a cold, wet piece of cottonwool, styptic pencil or cottonbud dipped in silver nitrate against the bleeding quick for a couple of minutes until it stops bleeding.  If it is still bleeding after 10 minutes or pumping with force, then telephone your veterinary surgery for further advice.

If your rabbit has dark claws, you may not be able to see the quick. If this is the case then try taking a small amount off each claw in several clips rather than a larger amount in one or two clips - as a general rule, once the footpad hair covers the claw tip then don't go any further. Some rabbits have a mixture of white and dark claws; in this instance clip the white claws first so you can get an idea of how short you can clip the dark claws. 

Sometimes shining a torch under a dark claw will reveal the quick so you will know how short you can safely clip it. Ensure you clip all the claws on all four feet, including the dew claws. If you notice that any have grown into the foot call your vet before attempting to clip it as it will be painful for your rabbit when the claw is clipped. Infection may also be present, so your vet may want to prescribe your rabbit with a course of antibiotics.

If your rabbit gets stressed during the process, then return them to their environment and try again in a couple of hours once they have calmed down.

Once you have clipped all of the claws make sure you check them all to ensure that none of them are bleeding. 

The quick grows as the claw does, so if the claws frequently grow long before they are clipped, the quick will also grow long, meaning it isn't possible to clip the claw as short.

What else do I need to know?

If you feel unable to clip your rabbit's claws, then book an appointment at your vets with a Veterinary Nurse who will be happy to clip them for you, they will also be happy to demonstrate how to do it, so you can do it in the future.

Check your rabbits claws every month to see if they need clipping; rabbits' claws will grow at different rates depending upon the type of surfaces they exercise on - concrete will wear them down well, but soft surfaces such as grass or carpet will be of little use. Rabbits who dig a lot may not require their claws to be clipped frequently.

Scroll to top