It is especially important to remember to keep an eye on your rabbit during these periods of intense summer UK heat.
Rabbits do not tolerate heat well and can actually die from overheating. Each rabbit will tolerate heat differently and it is important to check on your rabbit daily.
Here are some top tips:
Make sure bunny is out of the sun. If they are confined to a cage or small room for part of the day, be sure that there is plenty of shady space for the bunny to rest.
Set up a circulating fan that will breeze past your rabbit without blowing directly on him all day. Be sure to bunny-proof the fan cord!
Spray the rabbit’s ears with cool water mist. Rabbits lose heat through their ears and wetting them will help keep the rabbit cool.
Brush out excessive fur. If you have a long haired rabbit, consider cutting your bunny’s coat short for the hot summer months.
Fill 1 or 2 litre soft drink plastic bottles with water and freeze them. Once frozen, put the frozen water bottle in the bunny’s cage with a flannel around it so he can lean against it to keep cool. Keep a few of these on hand in your freezer.
Be sure your rabbit is getting his fair share of watery vegetables to help keep him hydrated. Be sure they are safe vegetables such as cucumber.
Place a ceramic tile or marble square in the cage or in bunny’s favourite place. The marble or tile stays cool for them to lie on. Never leave these in the sun – they’ll get boiling hot!
Be especially watchful of rabbits over 5 years old or ones who are overweight or slow to move. These rabbits tend to be more sedentary and may not get up to drink water if they are too hot. This can quickly lead to dehydration which can lead to death or other health problems.
If it’s unbearably hot and your house is cooler than outside, bring your rabbits indoors if possible, and let them run around outside once the hottest part of the day has passed.
What do I do if my rabbit suffers from heat stroke?
DO NOT submerge him in cold water. This could place the rabbit in shock.
Dampen his ears and body with cool water.
GET HIM TO US OR AN EMERGENCY VET IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT WAIT!
What other concerns are there in warm weather?
The main concern is flystrike. As the weather warms, flies can lay their eggs and kill a healthy animal who has temporary loose faeces or who has a mucky bottom.
At particular risk are old, disabled, long-haired or overweight rabbits as well as those with overgrown teeth who are not able to clean themselves.
Within 24 hours, rabbits can enter a dangerous state of shock due to a maggot infestation on their coat. Moisture, warmth, and odour all attract flies.
If open sores are present, or if thick fur is dampened with urine or faeces, flies will head toward these warm incubation areas to lay their eggs.
The chances are greater if the rabbit is outside, but it only takes one fly indoors to do the damage. Keep your bunny dry and (if needed) possibly even shaved are the most critical preventative steps.
Talk to us about the best products to use to help prevent flystrike.
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