Caring for your rabbits in hot weather
The following information is taken from www.rabbit.org (House Rabbit Society)
It is especially important to remember to keep an eye on your rabbit during the summer months. Rabbits do not tolerate heat well and can actually die from being overheated. Each rabbit will tolerate heat differently and it is important to observe your rabbit daily.
How do I keep my rabbit cool?
- 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. You can also drape a damp towel over part of the cage so the fan will blow through the towel and create cooler air. Be sure to bunny-proof the fan cord!
- Place a ceramic tile or marble square in the cage or in bun's favorite place. The marble or tile stays cool for them to lie on. Don't leave these in the sun - they'll get boiling hot!
- Place a few ice cubes in their water crock so the water is tempting and they can also lie against the cool crock.
- Mist the rabbit's ears. Rabbits dissipate heat through their ears and misting them will help keep the rabbit cool.
- Brush out excessive fur. Who wants to wear an extra fur coat in the summer? If you have a long haired rabbit, consider cropping your bunny's coat short for the summer months.
- Fill 1 or 2 liter soda bottles with water and freeze them. Once frozen, put the frozen water bottle in Bun's cage so he can lean against it to keep cool. Keep a few of these on hand in your freezer.
- Be sure Bun is getting his fair share of veggies to help keep him hydrated. See safe veg page.
- Be especially watchful of rabbits over 5 years old or ones who are overweight or incapacitated. 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 experiences 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 YOUR VETERINARIAN OR EMERGENCY CLINIC IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT WAIT!
What other concerns arise in warm weather?
Fly Strike. As the weather warms, flies can strike and kill a healthy animal who has temporary loose stools, but at particular risk are aging, disabled, long-haired or overweight rabbits who are not able to clean themselves. Within 24 hours, rabbits can enter a terminal state of shock due to maggot infestation. Moisture, warmth, and odor attract flies. If open sores are present, or if thick fur is dampened with urine or feces, 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. Maintaining a watchful eye, keeping your bunny dry and (if needed) short-even-shaved are the most critical preventitive steps. More fly strike info...