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Heatstroke In Rabbits

Rabbits can suffer from overheating, just like cats and dogs

Overheating can lead to heatstroke which could be fatal. There are lots of easy ways to keep your rabbit cool in the heat. Keep on reading to find out more.

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This happens when a rabbit gets overheated and cannot cool down. Body temperature raises to dangerous levels and can be fatal. This is particularly true in bunny breeds with long or thick coats.

Some signs of heatstroke in rabbits are:

  • Reddening and warming of the ears
  • Moisture/wetness around the nostrils
  • Rapid breathing or even panting
  • Listlessness or odd behaviour
  • Collapse
  • Fits (seizures)

If you suspect your rabbit is suffering from heatstroke, contact your vet immediately. Do not try and bathe your bunny in cold water as this can worsen the situation, but start putting cool water on their ears and get to your vet for treatment. Heatstroke can develop rapidly and can be very serious, so quick intervention is important.

Water, especially in shallow bowls, can evaporate quickly. On hot days, you should check your rabbit’s water supply several times a day to make sure that fresh, clean water is still available. This can be iced, to keep it super cool. Dampening fresh veggies before feeding can also increase water intake.

Gently spray their ears with water or wipe them with a cool, damp cloth, water evaporates which helps rabbits to regulate their temperature. Don’t spray any water on the inside of their ear, as this can cause problems down their ear canal.

Provide a shady place for your rabbit whenever they are outside, parasols work well - providing cool tiles or cold, wet towels to lie on can also work very well. Or try putting a frozen water bottle in their hutch for them to lie on and replace once unfrozen. Don’t be tempted to place their hutch and run next to another building during hot weather for shade, the buildings can act as a heat source and cause a rapid increase in temperature!

Keep long coats well groomed, and remove any excess fur to keep their coat as light as possible, this will help your bunny stay cool.

Keep a particularly close eye on your bunny during the spring and summer months for flystrike. Keep their back ends clean and free of any hair matts. Change their bedding regularly, use a flystrike preventative and if you notice any wounds or bad smells from your bunny seek vet advice immediately.

Read more about flystrike here.

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