August 9, 2022
How to safely remove excessive wax

How to safely remove excessive wax from a Rabbit’s ear?

Removing ear wax from your Rabbit’s ear can be very tricky. If your rabbit has a concentration of wax in-ear, you need to remove the wax. Many rabbit owners find this process very hard because they don’t know the correct technique of cleaning wax from the rabbit’s ear. If you also wonder how to safely remove excessive wax from a Rabbit’s ear? You are in the correct place.

Being a rabbit owner, you need to know that wax removal from a rabbit’s ear is very crucial for the auditory hygiene of your rabbit. And it needs to be part of your rabbit’s regular grooming session. The wax removal process from a rabbit’s ear can be delicate, but you will easily clean wax from your rabbit’s ear if you know the correct technique.

What’s in the box?

If you are a new rabbit owner and don’t know how to remove excessive wax from a rabbit’s ear, this article is for you. This article will help you understand the correct method of removing wax from the ear of a rabbit, why you need to clean your rabbit’s ear regularly, and what are the consequences of not cleaning your rabbit’s ear regularly? Today’s article will also tell you about different ear infections and their symptoms.

Why do you need to clean the ear of your Rabbit regularly?

Rabbits are very playful, making removing wax from their ears more complicated. But whatever is the situation, regular cleaning of the rabbit’s ear is vital for health and hygiene purposes. Wax build-up in rabbits’ ears can lead to several ear infections resulting in pain and discomfort in the rabbit’s ear. Rabbit’s ear wax can lead to ear infections damaging your rabbit’s outer, middle, and inner ear.

Removing rabbit’s ear wax is tricky, but it’s not impossible. It’s very important for your rabbit’s well-being as wax build-up can damage your rabbit’s ear and, in the worst case, permanent hearing loss. It would be best to schedule wax removal with weekly grooming sessions of your rabbit, and it will help prevent wax build-up in the bunny’s ear.

What does it take to clean your Rabbit’s ear wax?

A cotton stab, cloth, pair of tweezers, time, patience, and confidence that’s what it takes to clear your bunny’s ear wax. Rabbits love jumping and hoping, so you need to be very patient while cleaning their ear wax. Remember that your target is to remove wax from the ear, not push it deep inside the ear. So you should wait for the rabbit to get calm and then start gently petting and brushing your rabbit. Rabbits love brushing, so the moment you start brushing your rabbit’s fur, it will start getting calm. Once your rabbit is calm, examine your bunny’s ear.

Tweezers are used for cleaning large pieces of dirt, so if you see any large pieces of dirt and ear wax, use tweezers. Next, dampen the cotton stab or cloth and gently stroke it downward to upward, brushing the gunk away from the bunny’s ear until everything is clear.

Consequences of not cleaning your Bunny’s ear regularly?

If your rabbit gets wax build-up in its ear then, there are chances of ear infection, and in the worst scenario, your rabbit may lose hearing. Let’s talk about the best possible case first. Ear infection can damage the different parts of your rabbit’s ear. It will cause pain and discomfort to your rabbit, leading to loss of appetite and aggressive behavior, making the poor bunny stressed.

In worst scenarios, your rabbit can have hearing loss due to ear wax. And hearing loss can be very traumatizing for an animal that relies a lot on its hearing. In case your rabbit gets an ear infection, and you timely notice this, an early ear infection can be treated with medications but ignored, and untreated ear infections can only be treated through surgeries. Ear infection in rabbits can also trouble rabbits in balancing, and head tilt as rabbits’ inner ear helps them balance.

Getting informed about ear infection symptoms will help you detect ear infections at an early stage, thus preventing the disease from reaching the worst stage.

What leads to wax build-up in the Rabbit’s ear?

Rabbits majorly rely on their eyes, ears, and nose for sensing danger. The ears of rabbits are very sensitive and to keep their ears healthy and maintain auditory hygiene, regular removal of ear wax is very important. Adding to your wonder, rabbits produce ear wax to keep their ears healthy, but excess of everything is bad. That’s why excessive build-up of wax in the ear can lead to ear infections in rabbits.

Rabbits are very particular about hygiene and self-grooming to keep themselves clean. But because of the complex ear structure, rabbits cannot remove ear wax through self-grooming; they need human assistance for that. Domesticated rabbits need the help of their owners to remove their ear wax. Ignorance of ear wax can lead to inflammation and ear infection, so it would be best if you inspected your bunny’s ear at regular intervals to prevent infection.

What is the purpose of ear wax?

Ear wax is basically a protection shield of the inner ear against dirt and foreign object. Scientifically ear wax isn’t wax; it’s a mixture consisting of sebum, sweat, skin cells, and dirt. But excess ear wax can lead to several ear problems like an ear infection and ear mites. Bunnies have sensitive ears and are prone to many ear diseases, so it gets very important to clean your rabbit’s ear regularly.

Ear wax is necessary for rescuing the inner ear from getting in contact with foreign objects. Foreign objects can damage your rabbit’s ear. Ear wax is produced by glands present in the rabbit’s skin. Wax present in the rabbit’s ear consists of sticky gunk coupled with small hairs in the inner ear to keep the inner ear dirt-free. The sticky gunk and small hairs of inner ears stick all the dirt and debris preventing it from getting in contact with the eardrum.

Which breed of Rabbits is more prone to wax build-up in the ear?

Though all rabbits have ear wax, lop-eared rabbits are more prone to wax build-up. Their floppy ears make wax removal difficult. Lop-eared rabbits have a higher risk of getting an upper and inner ear infection. Mainly there are five breeds of loped ears found in the United States.

  • Mini lop
  • Holland lop
  • French lop
  • English lop
  • American fuzzy lop

These breeds of rabbits are more prone to upper ear infections because they have wax build-up in their upper ear fold. That leads to expansion of the ear canal, thus developing a huge cavity full of ear wax due to lack of proper cleaning. As per a journal released by American Veterinary Medical Association, lop-eared rabbits also have a higher risk of developing a middle ear infection. The wax cavity can cause ear mites and make way to several ear infections.

What are the symptoms of wax build-up in a rabbit’s ears?

The rabbits may include different symptoms of wax build-up. It would be best to observe your rabbit’s behavior keenly; if you notice anything unusual, you should examine your rabbit’s ear. In case you sense any symptom ear infection, consider taking your rabbit to the vet.

  • Tilted head
  • Hearing loss
  • Headache
  • Itching in ear
  • Dizziness

Necessary equipment required for cleaning wax from Rabbit’s ear

Weekly grooming sessions don’t need any additional equipment or precise solution. You can groom your rabbit with lukewarm water and a cloth, and Tweezers and cotton stab help clean giant debris. It would help if you examined your rabbit’s ear weekly for giant build-up. In case, your rabbit has a lot of wax build-up, you should use a solution for softening the gunk.

Which solution to use?

It would be best to consult your vet regarding the solution as several wax cleansing solutions are available in the market. Your vet can guide you best when it comes to getting a perfect rabbit-friendly solution for your rabbit. Many people prefer using homemade solutions of honey, salt grain, olive oil, etc., as they are chemical-free and don’t have any side- effects.

But excessive wax can be stubborn, so you may need to use commercial solutions for loosening it. If your rabbit has too much wax concentration, you should visit your vet to confirm if there is an ear infection. The most convenient and best equipment that will help you easily examine the rabbit’s ear is a headlamp. If you have some other person for your assistance, you can use a penlight to substitute for the headlamp.

Correct technique of removing wax from Bunny’s ear

Rabbits have very sensitive ears that need to be cleaned gently. While cleaning your bunny’s ear, always remember that your target is to remove the wax, not to push it deep inside the ear canal. So you have to be as gentle as possible. Before cleaning the rabbit’s ear, you need to prepare the bunny by calming your rabbit’s mood through petting and brushing. The ear cleaning process can be divided into three different stages, so let’s understand each stage one by one.

Stage 1: Prepare your Rabbit for cleaning

Preparing your rabbit for wax cleansing is very important because rabbits can complicate this simple process by scratching, kicking, and biting you. If your rabbit wants to play with you, it would be wise to play with the bunny and tire him out. You cannot force your bunny for ear cleansing as the rabbit will always try to wiggle out from your grip and can harm himself.

The best method to calm your rabbit is brushing. Rabbits love brushing, and to calm them and provide a sense of relief, you should brush gently over their coat. Brushing will get your rabbit in an asleep state making the ear cleansing easier and safer.

Stage 2: Examine your Rabbit’s ear

When you finally calm your rabbit, firstly examine your rabbit’s ears. While inspecting the ear, you can use light to get a better and deep view of the rabbit’s ear canal. Look for wax build-up, see whether there’s any blockage or layers of wax and debris. If you find any large pieces of wax or debris, consider using tweezers.

Stage 3: Remove the wax

Lastly, you need to clean the wax out of your rabbit’s ear. Firstly dampen a cloth or cotton stab in warm water or solution. You can either use a homemade or commercial solution as prescribed by your vet. Then gently and carefully wipe the rabbit’s ear in a downward to upward direction. Don’t move the cloth or cotton stab in upward to downward motion as this can get the wax deep towards the ear canal instead of losing it. Repeat the process until the whole wax is removed.

You need to be very gentle and careful about not pushing wax deep inside the ear canal throughout the cleansing process. If the wax gets deep, it can cause ear mites and infections. So you have to be very patient, careful, and gentle while cleansing your bunny’s ear. Cleansing ear wax can be a bonding experience between you and your rabbit. So make sure that your rabbit is relaxed and comfortable throughout the process and enjoying it.

Ear infections

Wax cleansing is very important for rabbits. It can be your bonding time with your rabbit, so shower affection and love on your while cleaning wax from your rabbit’s ear. Ignoring wax build-ups can lead to ear mites and ear infections. Ear infections can give pain and discomfort to your rabbit, and if they reach the extreme stage, they can also cause permanent hearing loss. Ear infections are mainly divided into two categories: –

  • Outer ear infections
  • Middle and inner ear infections

Lets’ discuss both the ear infections turn-by-turn.

Outer ear infections

Outer ear infections are also called Otitis Externa, caused due to swelling of the external ear canal. Respiratory infections and ear mites can also cause outer ear infections. Rabbit’s skin is hypersensitive and, in some cases the infection, can cause irritation in the sensitive skin of rabbits. Sometimes the rabbit’s skin can feel irritation because of commercial wax cleansing solutions.

Wax needs to be removed from the ears; otherwise, it can lead to infections and trouble your bunny. Lop-eared bunnies are more prone to upper ear infections. If Otitis Externa (upper ear infection) reaches its extreme stage, it will be rectified only by surgery. If you doubt your rabbit has ear infections take the poor bunny to the vet. Extreme cases of Otitis Externa (upper ear infection) can be treated with total ear canal ablation and lateral bulla osteotomy surgery.

The surgery is among the complicated surgeries of rabbits, and it is as complicated as its pronounciation. Never ignore ear infections in your rabbit, as an untreated upper ear infection can spread to the middle ear and inner ear, causing permanent hearing loss.

Middle ear and inner ear infections

Middle Ear Infection

The middle and inner ear infections are swelling in the middle and inner ear. The clinical name for middle ear and inner ear infection is Otitis media (middle ear infection) and Otitis interna (inner ear infection).

The middle ear is an air cavity between the eardrum and inner ear. Middle ear infections can cause ear wax or untreated outer ear infections that spread to the middle ear. Middle ear infections can generate pus, and pus build-up can pressure the eardrum, causing it to burst.

If your rabbit doesn’t have any wax build-up in the ear and is still suffering from a middle ear infection, it’s because of an upper respiratory tract infection. As published in the journal of experimental medicine, upper respiratory tract infection with certain bacteria can cause middle ear infection without any wax build-up.

Inner Ear Infection

The inner ear is a very delicate part and is also responsible for balancing rabbits. Inner ear infections can lead to balancing issues and head tilt. Labyrinth is responsible for balance activities in rabbits. Severe infection in the inner ear can damage the labyrinth and lead to permanent balancing problems in rabbits.

If you observe any of the symptoms of inner ear infection, you should immediately take your bunny to the vet and inform them about all the symptoms and activities of your rabbit. In case of the middle ear and inner ear infection, your rabbit’s vet may ask you to get an x-ray of your rabbit’s ear. The X-ray will detect the building pus and confirm the seriousness and severity of the disease.

Symptoms of ear infections in Rabbits

Rabbits are prey animals and are experts in hiding their disease. So you have to observe your rabbit very carefully if you suspect your rabbit of ear infection. Rabbits try to hide their disease as much as possible, so until you notice something off about your rabbit, the infection will reach its extreme stage. So the only way to find the disease is to observe your rabbit’s body language.

You should weekly check your rabbit’s ear for wax build-up. Apart from ear wax, an ear infection can also cause due to a respiratory tract infection. So if your rabbit doesn’t have any wax build-up in its ear, still there are possibilities of your rabbit suffering from an ear infection. Certain symptoms will help you identify ear infections at an early stage; they are as follows: –

Torticollis

Also called head tilt, torticollis is one of the main ear infection symptoms. If your rabbit has an inner ear infection, then your rabbit is most likely to show the symptom of head tilt. Besides hearing inner ear is responsible for balance activities, and the inner ear is the location part of the balance organs.

The possible reason behind a rabbit’s head tilt while suffering from an ear infection is that pus plays havoc on the balance organs. The second reason is that maybe your rabbit is trying to alleviate pain. If your rabbit feels pus, then your rabbit may also shake his head as if trying to get rid of something lose. The rabbit can also rub its ears on a surface or pin down the ear due to pain. Head tilt is the most common symptom of inner ear infection.

Loss of appetite

A rabbit loves munching, and if your rabbit is refusing to eat, it means something is wrong with your rabbit. Rabbits are fond of food and only avoid food when they aren’t feeling good or have a hidden disease. Your rabbit show disinterest in food because the poor bunny may feel pain while chewing. The ear infection can also lead to pain in jaws and cheekbones, making chewing and swallowing hard for the rabbit. Your rabbit may feel dizzy; that’s why he is trying to avoid food.

Behavioral changes

A rabbit will also show some behavioral changes when suffering from ear infections. If your rabbit is suffering from an ear infection, it will surely show some signs of discomfort and will try to hide stuff more than unusual. The rabbit may get aggressive with other pets or even with you. Rabbits groom themselves many times a day because they are very particular about hygiene, but because of discomfort caused by pain, the rabbit may stop grooming itself.

When suffering from an ear infection, your rabbit may show the following behavioral changes: –

  • Aggression
  • Teeth grinding
  • Bulging eyes
  • Sitting in a hunched position
  • Shivering
  • Pinned back ears
  • Unusual breathing rate (breathing rate of your rabbit can be shallow or rapid)
  • Stop grooming itself

Abnormalities

You will also notice some abnormalities in your rabbit if he has an ear infection. The furs of your rabbit will get thin and will show patches of skin around the ear. You will also notice scaling around your rabbit’s ear canal. If your rabbit is having severe hair loss around-ear, then there’s a huge possibility that your rabbit is suffering from an ear infection.

Discharge

When a rabbit suffers from an ear infection, the bunny is likely to have pus-like discharge from the ear. The discharge will be thick, creamy, and consist of a foul smell. Generally, inner ear and middle ear infections consist of foul smells. Rabbits are a pro at hiding their disease, so you should inspect your rabbit’s ear and body very keenly while grooming your bunny. Untreated infection can reach its extreme point and show symptoms of redness and soreness in the ear.

Ear Infection Treatment

There are many ways of treating ear infections in rabbits; which treatment best suits your rabbit depends on the severity of the disease. For instance, if the ear infection is diagnosed at an early stage, it can be treated by removing excessive ear wax or by antibiotics. But if the ear infection reaches its extreme point, it can be treated by total ear canal ablation and lateral bulla osteotomy surgery or by surgical ear flushing.

If your rabbit has developed ear mites due to ear wax, then your rabbit needs an anti-parasitic treatment course. The vet you will choose for your bunny should have expertise in rabbit treatment or at least should have experience in treating rabbits. Choosing the wrong vet can worsen the situation. If you are a new rabbit owner, you should know that the rabbit’s body doesn’t respond positively to every antibiotic.

A good vet with expertise or experience in treating rabbits knows that there are very limited antibiotics to treat rabbits. If the ear infection has reached some severity, it may need antibiotic and anti-inflammatory treatment. Outer ear infections can be treated with antibiotic ear flushes, while middle and inner ear infections need long antibiotic treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Que. Can I clean my rabbit’s ear?

Ans. Well, most rabbits will be able to clean their ears themselves without your attention. But lop-eared rabbits and old rabbits will not be able to clean their ears as they and need your intervention for getting wax out of their ears. You should make wax removal an integral part of your grooming session. Cleaning your rabbit’s ear once a month is enough to prevent ear infections and ear mites.

You should indeed help your rabbit in getting rid of ear wax. Though rabbits can clean their ears by self-grooming, you should still help them because you can properly clean their ears with the help of accurate solutions and equipment.

Que. Can hard ear wax lead to hearing loss?

Ans. Lumps of hard wax can lead to pain and hearing loss. When ear wax becomes hard, it converts into solid pieces of wax that will form a plug. Suppose you notice hard wax inside your rabbit’s ear; it’s best to let the vet remove that plug because it may need some clinical prescription for loosening the plug. In case your rabbit has plugged wax in-ear, it will impact the rabbit’s hearing, so it would be better to do some hearing tests on your rabbit if you suspect hearing loss in your rabbit.                

Que. What are the reasons behind rabbit’s ear infection?

Ans. Ear infection causes because of ear wax, respiratory tract infection, or ear mites. Ear mites are also called Psoroptes Cuniculi that cause pain and discomfort in the rabbit’s ear. These are small parasites that reside in the rabbit’s ear.

If you notice any ear mites during the ear cleaning session, you should first sanitize your equipment in boiling water. Ear mites can sustain outside the rabbit’s ear in humid temperatures. So when you find an ear mite intermingled with ear wax, then you should sanitize all the equipment and then take your bunny to the vet.

Untreated ear mites can lead to an ear infection. Though a rabbit can clean its ears in grooming sessions, you should still clean your rabbit’s ear and check if there are any traces of ear infection. Ear cleaning sessions are a very important part of rabbit owning, and it can be your bonding time with your rabbit.                                                                                                           

Que. Can lop-eared rabbits clean their ears themselves by self-grooming?

Ans. Unlike other rabbits, cleaning their ears by self-grooming is challenging for lop-eared rabbits. Because of their flop ears, lop-eared rabbits have a hard time cleaning their ears. The shape of lop-eared rabbits makes them unapproachable. Apart from this, lop-eared rabbits don’t have any control over their ears, making the task more difficult. So lop-eared rabbits can’t clean their ears themselves and need your assistance.

Apart from lop-eared rabbits, old rabbits and disabled rabbits also have a hard time cleaning their ears. The joints of old rabbits get stiffened, due to which they feel pain while moving their joints. Disabled rabbits struggle to move, and that’s why they need human intervention for cleaning their ears and can’t clean them through self-grooming.

Closing Words

The majority of rabbit breeds can self groom themselves except loped ear rabbits. Still, you should clean your rabbit’s ear at least twice a month. Old rabbits, disabled rabbits also need your assistance in cleaning their ears. Being a rabbit owner, you must clean your bunny’s ear and observe his activities keenly if you suspect an ear infection.

Before starting the cleansing session, you need to ensure that your rabbit is calm. Your rabbit should remain calm and comfortable throughout the cleansing process. If the bunny isn’t calm or in the mood for ear cleansing, don’t force and postpone the task to another day.

That was all about, “How to safely remove excessive wax from a rabbit’s ear?” After reading the article thoroughly, all your doubts would have been cleared. In case of more doubts, feel free to ask in the comments. For more rabbit care-related articles, do subscribe to the website. And kindly provide your feedback for further improvement. If you want to know more about rabbits, do visit the website. Hope your rabbit has a happy time getting its ears cleaned. Happy Reading!

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Peyton Taylor

Hey readers! My name is Peyton Taylor, and I help others to have a great experience with their pets. Nothing compares to the happiness of having a healthy and affectionate pet. My sole purpose is to assist newbies and experienced pet owners to learn more and more about the behavior and character of their pets.

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