Keeping your rabbit cool in summer

2nd July 2016

As the summer warms up, it’s time to make sure pet rabbits are kept safe and protected from overheating. Our team at Bollington Veterinary Centre have some ideas on how to achieve this with minimal effort.

Check temperatures - the ideal temperature for a rabbit is between 12 and 20 degrees Celsius. Anything above 30 degrees C will quite likely cause heatstroke. If your rabbit is left in the garden during the summer, it’s vital that you take steps to prevent overheating. A simple garden maximum and minimum thermometer can be used to check how hot it really gets.

Avoid direct sunlight - keep your rabbit’s home out of the sun. Cover windows with blinds and curtains if your pet is inside, or use trees and shrubs to provide shade if housed in the garden.

Ventilation – don’t ignore the importance of a good flow of air. You can use an oscillating fan to blow cooler air into the rabbit cage. This will create a breeze to cool your rabbit down. A wire covered home allows air to flow freely from all sides. If your rabbit is outdoors in a hutch keep them in the shade and allow for cover without compromising ventilation.

Sensible bedding - this should be absorbent and non-toxic. Straw and shredded paper work well

Ice – you can use ice to cool down your pet’s cage. Try freezing plastic water bottles and put them inside the pen out of the sun. This will allow your pet to sit close to the cold bottle, which will help them to keep cool on sunny days.

6 signs of heat stress in rabbits

When rabbits overheat, blood vessels in their ears swell and cause a general redness to appear. This is a great indicator of heat stroke in rabbits. An overheated rabbit may also have one or more of the following signs.

  1. Heavy, fast breathing – as with other animals, rabbits will attempt to remove heat by breathing out hot air.
  2. Flared nostrils – an attempt to allow rapid air movements in and out through the nostrils
  3. Sprawling – hot rabbits will try to cool themselves by spreading out on a cool surface
  4. Hot ears and feet – blood vessels will dilate trying to remove excessive heat.
  5. Lethargy – they become inactive and not as alert as usual
  6. Depression – look for the eyes being half closed

What to do in the event of overheating

Try calling us immediately at Bollington Veterinary Centre on 01625 573375 . We may suggest different cooling measures before you bring your rabbit in for an appointment.