What To Do If Your Pet Rabbit Gets Wet

Your heart sinks as you hear a splash and shrieks coming from the backyard. Rushing outside, you find your beloved pet rabbit Thrumpy soaked in a mound of wet fur at the edge of the koi pond. How did he get out? No time for that now! You scoop up the miserable, shivering bunny and quickly dry his drenched coat with towels. But is he out of danger? What hidden risks does a wet rabbit face? The health threats can be serious if not handled right. Read on to discover how to respond fast when your rabbit takes an unexpected dunking. With the right steps, you can swiftly restore your soggy hopper to health, dryness and safety once again!

How dangerous is water to rabbits?

Water can be very dangerous to rabbits if proper precautions are not taken. Rabbits are very sensitive to getting wet and it can cause a number of health issues if their skin and fur stays damp for too long. Rabbits are not designed to be in water like dogs or cats. Their fur takes a very long time to fully dry out and it does not provide much insulation when wet. This leaves them prone to getting chilled and developing hypothermia if their body temperature drops too low. Prolonged contact with water can also irritate a rabbit's sensitive skin and lead to sores or infections. The dense fur around a rabbit's ears is also prone to staying damp long after the rest of their body has dried. This provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and yeast to grow, which frequently leads to painful ear infections. For these reasons, rabbit owners need to be very careful about protecting their pets from getting wet or be prepared to properly dry them off right away if it does happen. Avoiding contact with water as much as possible is the safest approach.

Potential dangers when rabbits get wet

There are several dangers that can arise when rabbits get their fur wet:

  • Hypothermia – A rabbit's normal body temperature is 101-103°F. If their fur gets wet, it loses its insulating properties and allows heat to escape the body more quickly. This causes the rabbit's body temperature to drop to dangerous levels. Hypothermia sets in when their temperature falls below 99°F. It can quickly become fatal if the rabbit's body temperature keeps falling. Signs of hypothermia include lethargy, weakness, shivering, and loss of appetite.

  • Pneumonia – Wet fur also allows external cold to be conducted to the skin more readily. This can chill the lungs and make the rabbit more prone to developing pneumonia. Pneumonia can be life-threatening in rabbits if not treated promptly with antibiotics.

  • Mold or fungal infections – Damp fur provides an ideal environment for mold, fungi, and yeast to grow. This can lead to skin infections. The dense fur around the ears is especially prone to retaining moisture and developing infections.

  • Ear infections – For the same reason, the ears are prone to developing bacterial or yeast infections if the fur gets and stays wet. Ear infections are extremely common in rabbits and can become very painful and dangerous if not treated.

  • Urinary tract infections – Lingering dampness can allow bacteria near the rear end to migrate and develop into a urinary tract infection. This causes painful urination and can lead to bladder or kidney damage if not treated.

  • Diarrhea – The stress of getting wet can disrupt the delicate bacterial balance in the intestines and allow harmful bacteria to proliferate. This frequently causes cases of diarrhea, which leads to dehydration and digestive upset.

Rabbit owners need to monitor their pets closely and get them dried and warmed up quickly at the first signs of any of these dangers arising after getting wet. Seeking prompt veterinary care is advisable.

When is it okay if a rabbit gets wet

There are some occasions where it may be acceptable for a rabbit to get a little bit wet:

  • Light rain or mist outside – As long as they are brought inside immediately and thoroughly dried off, a brief exposure to light rain or mist is not harmful. Do not leave them exposed to rain.

  • Damp grass outside – If the grass has morning dew or light rain on it, it's alright for brief supervised playtime outside. Again, dry them off upon coming back inside.

  • Covered litter box – It's fine if some urine gets splashed up on their coat while using a covered litter box. But change out wet litter frequently to avoid prolonged damp fur.

  • Water bowl – It's also normal for some water droplets to get on their chin or neck when drinking normally. Their dewlap may get lightly splashed too.

  • Cooling on hot days – On very hot summer days, you can mist cool water on rabbits to help them stay cool, but only their back end and legs. Avoid getting their chest and front half wet.

  • Medicated baths – If prescribed by a vet, rabbits can get a shallow medicated bath for certain skin conditions. But they must be thoroughly dried immediately after.

Aside from these instances, rabbit owners should take steps to avoid unnecessary water contact and dry their rabbits off promptly if they do somehow get wet. Never submerge a rabbit in water or give them a full body bath. The dangers of chilling, illness and infection outweigh any benefits. Light moisture on parts of their coat can be tolerated, but sustained wetness should always be avoided.

When should you take action when your rabbit gets wet

You should take immediate action if your rabbit gets significantly wet from falling into water, exposure to heavy rain or other means. Do not wait and assume they will dry off and be okay. Rabbits cannot effectively self-groom to dry themselves off. Take action right away if:

  • Their fur is wet down to the skin.
  • The wool around their body feels damp or cool.
  • Their underside or legs got splashed.
  • Any part of their ears feel wet.
  • They have been exposed to moisture for longer than just a quick rinse.
  • They exhibit any shivering or shaking.

Steps you should take include:

  • Remove your rabbit from the source of wetness.

  • Gently blot down their coat with an absorbent towel. Do not rub vigorously.

  • Blow dry their coat on a low, cool setting while brushing. Avoid heat.

  • Pay special attention to drying their ears and skin folds.

  • Check their body temperature to watch for hypothermia.

  • Get them indoors and away from drafts.

  • Provide a heating pad, hot water bottle or other warmth source.

  • Offer hot food and water to help their body temperature recover.

  • Monitor for signs of illness like sneezing, lethargy, diarrhea, etc.

  • Call your vet if you have any concerns about their health after getting wet.

Don't write off a wet rabbit as no big deal. Take it seriously and take fast action to dry, warm and monitor them. Timely care can prevent a health crisis.

How to dry off your rabbit

If your rabbit gets wet, it's important to thoroughly dry their coat and body. Here are tips for properly drying a wet rabbit:

  • Use an absorbent towel and gently blot or pat their fur, don't rub vigorously. Rubbing can push water further down to their skin.

  • If just their underside or legs got wet, use towel corners to gently pat dry.

  • For a fully wet bunny, wrap them in a dry towel like a burrito, leaving their head out. This pulls some moisture away from the skin before blow drying.

  • Blow dry on a low, cool setting while brushing fur. Avoid heat. This will accelerate evaporation and fluff up their coat without risk of burning their skin.

  • Use a grooming brush to lift fur and expose the undercoat so air circulates into all layers.

  • Flip them over and repeat drying their underside. Check their belly fur for any lingering dampness.

  • Pay special attention to their ears. Gently pat inside and behind ears with towels. Then blow dry carefully while massaging ear base to help water release.

  • Also thoroughly dry moist areas like their groin, tail, chin folds and any skin creases.

  • Never submerge a wet rabbit into water thinking you can shampoo them dry. This will only compound the chilling and stress.

  • Avoid covering a wet rabbit with blankets or towels for long periods. This prevents evaporation.

  • Keep blow drying until their entire coat feels fully fluffed, dry and airy.

  • Use a comb to check next to the skin for any unseen dampness.

Thorough drying is key to preventing health issues after wetting. Monitor them closely afterwards for any symptoms of illness. Call your vet if concerns arise. With proper action, most rabbits bounce back just fine.

Watch your rabbit for symptoms of skin irritation or ear infection

Once your rabbit has gotten wet and you've dried them off, keep a close eye out for signs of skin irritation or ear infection over the next several days. Some symptoms to watch for include:

  • Flaky, red or moist skin patches

  • Visible sore hocks on rear feet

  • Small scabs or crusty spots in their fur

  • Signs of itching or discomfort

  • Excess rubbing or scratching at their body or ears

  • Head shaking or ear scratching

  • Decreased appetite or reduced activity level

  • Discharge in or around the ears

  • Foul odor from ears

  • Swelling of the ear canal

  • Tilting or shaking of the head

Skin redness, inflammation or small wounds can arise after sustained moisture exposure. Ear infections are also common due to the density of fur inside rabbits’ ears trapping lingering moisture. Carefully inspect all areas of your rabbit’s coat and skin. Also gently examine inside and behind their ears using an otoscope if possible.

If you observe any signs of skin irritation, infection or discomfort, schedule an appointment with your rabbit-savvy vet right away. Skin or ear conditions can become serious quickly in rabbits. Starting treatment as soon as possible is important. Make sure to closely monitor for any other signs of illness over the next several weeks as well. Respond promptly if symptoms do not improve, and report any concerns to your veterinarian. With attentive care and oversight, wet rabbits can recover well.

Is it okay if my rabbit goes outside in the rain?

No, it is not recommended to allow domestic rabbits outdoors in the rain or snow. Rabbits should be kept inside a secure shelter at all times when precipitation is occurring. Their sensitive, delicate skin can not tolerate getting and staying wet from rain exposure.

Even a brief time in the rain can be dangerous and life threatening for rabbits if they get chilled. Their fur loses all insulating value when wet, causing their body temperature to quickly plummet. This puts them at high risk of hypothermia and pneumonia, which can be fatal.

Standing moisture or wet ground is also damaging to their sensitive feet. Prolonged contact with wet soil can lead to fungal infections of their paws. Standing water can also harbor harmful parasites like ringworm.

Wet fur also becomes an inviting host for harmful mold and fungi to colonize. This makes skin infections a high risk with extended rainfall exposure. Plus, damp fur around their ears can initiate painful ear infections.

For their health and safety, domestic rabbits should only go outdoors during dry weather when there is no risk of rain. A waterproof rabbit shelter should always be provided so they have a place to retreat from falling rain.

Rabbits have no ability to towel dry or adequately groom themselves if they do get wet outside. Take every precaution to prevent unnecessary rain exposure. Indoor housing is safest for domestic rabbits.

Can I give my rabbit a bath?

It is not recommended to bathe your rabbit unless very specific medical circumstances warrant it. Rabbits have extremely delicate skin and a thick coat not suited for regular bathing. Getting fully soaked can be very stressful and dangerous for them if not dried quickly enough. Their grooming instincts also make them strongly inclined to lick all soap residue off their fur, which can lead to digestive upset.

The only situations where a skilled rabbit owner should bathe their bunny are:

  • Under veterinary guidance for certain skin conditions.
  • To remove dried urine or feces adhered to rear fur.
  • If they fall into toxic chemicals and need rinsing.

Proper precautions must be taken:

  • Use lukewarm, never hot water.
  • Preferably use a weak veterinary soap or just water.
  • Fully dry their coat immediately afterwards.
  • Monitor closely for signs of illness after bathing.

Healthy rabbits maintain clean coats through self-grooming. Frequent bathing strips protective oils and disturbs healthy skin microbiota. It can actually induce skin problems it aims to resolve.

Providing basics like a clean habitat, balanced diet and enrichment are better avenues for a clean and healthy rabbit. Only bathe when truly medically necessary, using extreme care and caution over their wellbeing.


Rabbits and water do not mix well. Their dense, thick coats are not designed to get or stay wet for any period of time. Prolonged dampness can quickly create dangerous chilling, encouraging hypothermia, pneumonia and various infections. Rabbit owners should take all steps to protect their pets from unnecessary soaking and respond promptly if it does occur. Thoroughly drying their coat, keeping them warm and monitoring closely afterward is key to preventing a health crisis. With attentive care, even a soaked bunny can bounce back just fine. Take wetting seriously and act fast if your rabbit gets drenched. Their health and wellbeing depends on your care and action. Stay vigilant for any signs of illness and call your vet at the first hint of problems. With your watchful eye and prepared response, wet rabbits can recover well.

Leave a Comment