One of the biggest dangers for rabbits in the summer months is heatstroke. Here are our tips for preventing heatstroke in your rabbits;
What is heatstroke?
Rabbits can easily suffer from heatstroke, and it can be fatal. They do not cope well with sudden temperature changes, and anything over 22 degrees Celsius can cause it. Rabbits are especially prone to heatstroke because, as well as wearing a fur coat, they are unable to lose heat by sweating or panting.
Which rabbits are at risk?
Both indoor and outdoor rabbits can be affected, but it is most common in outdoor rabbits. On a warm day, rabbit hutches can heat up very quickly, and can easily reach temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius.
Prevention is better than cure
To prevent heatstroke we recommend:
- Check your rabbits carefully every day throughout the year, and twice daily in warm weather.
- Ensure their whole hutch and run area is in complete shade throughout the day, and they have constant access to their run from their hutch.
- It is sensible to use a thermometer to check the temperature in the hutch and run.
- Special battery operated cage fans are available.
- Offer plenty of cold water, and use a water bottle AND a water bowl as a backup. Refresh water twice a day.
- Ice packs wrapped in a towel can be placed in the hutch or run, but take care to ensure that your rabbits do not chew them.
- Damp towels can be placed over the cage.
- Wiping the ears with water, which then evaporates, can help to keep rabbits cool.
What are the symptoms of heatstroke in rabbits?
- Not eating
- Wobbly when moving (ataxia)
- Reddening of the ears
- Behavioural changes, confusion
- Fits or seizures
Please seek urgent veterinary advice if you are concerned about your rabbits.
Remember that we are offering FREE rabbit check-ups with our Registered Veterinary Nurses throughout June, so please book an appointment for more advice on your rabbits’ diet, health and general care.