There's no denying that rabbits are cute and adorable, which makes them a popular choice for pets in Hong Kong. However, while these small mammals may seem like hardy creatures that can survive harsh climates, they need attentive care for their delicate skin, spine and system. Veterinarian Gerry Pahl at Victoria Veterinary Clinics in Tuen Mun offers some helpful grooming advice on how to keep your little Thumper in tip-top condition. Known for their acute senses and rapid reproductive rate, rabbits are fastidiously clean small mammals that shed about every three months. Therefore, when a rabbit starts to shed, owners should brush its coat more frequently, Pahl says. For long-haired rabbits, weekly brushing is required, but if yours is losing its hair more than usual, daily brushing is recommended. Depending on the rabbit, some shed their coat in one day, while others will take weeks to get rid of their old coat. And don't be alarmed if you notice that your little critter is going bald, it's most likely part of the shedding cycle. The hair should grow back within one or two weeks. Although some experts suggest trimming long-haired rabbits, Pahl advises against it. 'You don't need to groom your rabbit like a dog or cat. You should only trim if it is causing a problem, like hair rubbing around the eyes,' he says. 'Also some rabbits soil the hair around their bottom. If there is a problem, then clear the area that is sensitive.' While most rabbits don't play with other animals or even rabbits, the vet advises pet owners to watch out for a pet that seems itchy or scratches itself. 'It's really interesting, over the past few years I've seen a big increase of external parasites,' he says. 'For lice, you can see slow moving dots on the skin.' To treat a lice or flea problem, Pahl recommends regularly using an external parasite treatment. However, do not use Frontline, which is regularly used for dogs and cats, as this product can be toxic to rabbits, according to Pahl. 'It's quite puzzling how rabbits are getting [lice or fleas] since they don't usually have contact with other animals. 'Maybe it's coming in from the hay, carried in [on other products] or on human owners somehow. We really don't know,' Pahl says. Another grooming task is clipping nails about once a month. 'It's really important to trim the nails regularly before they become overgrown,' Pahl explains. 'In the wild, they will naturally keep their nails short, but rabbits in our domestic situation, don't get to do that type of behaviour. They are indoor animals, not running around in fields or underground.' While many owners can clip the nails at home, Pahl points out some groomers, pet shops and vets can also carry out this grooming job. A common reason for a trip to the vet, Pahl says, is when owners accidently cut their rabbit while grooming. 'We see that quite a lot. Rabbit skin is fragile and thin, and we sometimes need to stitch it.' If you find yourself in this situation, the vet advises owners to keep the area from getting dirty or contaminated but don't try to clean it. Simply take your pet to a vet for a dressing to be applied. When it comes to ears, most owners don't need to worry about cleaning them. However, some animals form a significant amount of wax that can lead to ear infections, according to Pahl. 'I recommend to clean the ears with an ear cleaner. There are a whole range on the market,' he says. It's best to use ear products that don't contain alcohol, or have an oily base that end up having a sticky texture. Owners should also steer clear of ear powders that can turn into 'concrete', Pahl adds. Rabbits possess excellent eyesight designed to detect predators from almost any direction. With their eyes positioned high and to the sides of the head, rabbits can see nearly 360 degrees. However, they can have a common bacterial infection that results in a white, creamy discharge. 'The hole into their tear drainage system can get pussy and become a reoccurring problem,' Pahl says. 'In some situations it can be related to teeth. If they have overgrown teeth, an eye infection can be an indicator of dental problems.' If you think your bunny seems like it needs a bath, don't be tempted. The vet recommends only giving your rabbit spot-washing when required. If your pet has a urinary infection, your vet may recommend washing the area with warm water and medicated shampoo, but this 'is the only situation' that warrants washing your rabbits, Pahl says. As with most health and grooming problems, if you are concerned about your rabbit's condition, Pahl recommends asking your vet for further information.