Why Rabbits Should Not Be Declawed

Declawing rabbits is unnecessary and cruel. Here are some facts that you should consider before making a decision. Please note that in this article, the comparisons to declawing a cat should not be read to imply that we support cat declawing. Rather, we mean that it is even more severe for a rabbit to undergo this amputation.
  1. Rabbits do not have retractable claws like a cat which means they use them ALL the time for traction. ( A cat does not need its claws in normal movement around the house. He “extends” the claws when he needs to “hook” into something like a prey item or a toy) Rabbits who are declawed have more problems with traction, particularly on smooth surfaces. This can lead to splay leg conditions, particularly if the rabbit is sedentary or overweight.
  2. This is a PAINFUL operation and they have to walk on the surgery sites for several days while healing takes place. A cat who is declawed is also in pain (which is why we don’t support this in cats), but rabbits walk more ON the surgical site, rather then on an elevated pad. When a declaw is done, the bone that the claw is attached to is either severed or removed and there is a large hole that has to be either sewed or glued shut.
  3. When a rabbit is declawed, she cannot “scratch an itch” with her back leg, and that could be quite frustrating.

It is interesting that in Europe most veterinarians would not even CONSIDER such an operation in a rabbit. It would be deemed cruelty to animals.

Alternatives to rabbits who like to dig or scratch:

  • Obviously work a LOT with the rabbit to calm him down. Work with an HRS educator or veterinarian who can help with training procedures. See our San Diego Chapter’s digging article.
  • Construct an exercise pen out of a dog exercise pen material (usually metal panels that slip together to make any shape to keep the rabbit from getting into corners to dig.
  • Protect corners or digging spots with heavy plastic rub covers (like the kind they put under office furniture)
  • Try Soft Paws on the rabbits’ claws. These are soft plastic caps that are placed over the nails and held in place with surgical glue. They do not hurt the rabbit (the glue is only on the nails)…they fall off and are replaced by the owner in one to three months. The plastic is soft and gives good traction and is harmless if pulled off and swallowed. Check with local vets and pet stores for this material. It is sold for cats to prevent declaws. The claws cannot scratch with this.