Here come the daffodils and the woodland bluebells. The promise of summer is over the hill with the sun beaming away to temperatures rising to 15’C. We are definitely getting our first taste of Summer here in the UK, we can all feel it. So what do we do to cool down? Pick up our Raybans, find a pool to dip into and sip on ice-cold lemonade. That might be us cooled down, but what about our pets? It’s simple to forget that animals feel just as uncomfortable in the heat as we do. Rabbits, indoors or outdoors can find it especially difficult to enjoy the hotter seasons as with the heat, come a few hazards to look out for. Read through our Top 4 cool suggestions to get a refreshing bounce in your rabbits hop this summer!
Tip 1 - As with most mammals, rabbits have a dense layer of fur called down (fine hairs too small for the eye to see) that act as insulation in the winter. When the heat turns up, this down falls off, albeit slowly. So at temperatures of 90’F / 32’C your rabbit may be in danger of over heating if they are still holding a layer of down on their skin. This makes it harder for their bodies to cool down. Early signs of over heating can be lethargy, panting and dehydration. If you are feeling like you need a cold drink, the chances are your rabbit feels exactly the same. Put a cube or two of ice in your rabbits drinking bowl, away from the direct sun.
Tip 2 - If your rabbit is indoors and you don’t have air conditioning, a good quick way to help your rabbit cool down is by freezing a plastic bottle, wrapping it in a tea towel and placing this in the cage next to him/her. Let your rabbit sit or lie next to it to cool down.
Tip 3 - You may see lop-eared rabbits dipping an ear into the water bowl; this is a great way for your rabbit to cool down. Hot blood vessels run through their ears and when dipped into the water, take away excess heat and returns their bodies to a more comfortable temperature.
If you don’t have a lop-eared rabbit you can still use this technique by misting their ears with a spray bottle of cold water, slightly dampening them to help the cooling process along.
Tip 4 - Setting up your rabbit’s hutch in an area of the garden or house, which is coolest, is going to take the stress away from their bodies. Whichever corner, shaded area gets the least amount of direct sun during the day is the ideal space for the cage. Your rabbit will now be protected against sunstroke. Keep attention on his water and depending whether the sun moves during the day, you may have to move the cage once more.
If you are leaving your house with your rabbit indoors, close the blinds, curtains and open a window to allow any breeze to flow through.
Heat stroke can affect your rabbit if they’ve been in direct contact with too much sunlight. If your rabbit is unresponsive, uncoordinated or having convulsions, take him to a veterinarian as soon as it’s possible.
From all of us here at Pet Nurses we wish you, your families and your pets a safe and enjoyable Summer.