Summer Tips For Rabbits
As the summer gets into full swing, here are some summer tips and facts: from heatstroke to what to do when you’re going on holiday...
Just like dogs and cats, rabbits can suffer from heatstroke. This happens when a rabbit gets overheated and cannot cool down. Body temperature raises to dangerous levels, and can cause multiple organ failure and even death.
We’ll answer some common queries rabbit owners ask in the summer, such as ‘can rabbits swim’ and ‘how to keep rabbits cool’.
Rabbit care in Summer
Just like dogs and cats, rabbits can suffer from heatstroke. This is especially true in bunny breeds with long or thick coats. Body temperature raises to dangerous levels, and can cause multiple organ failure and even death. Signs of heatstroke in rabbits include:
- Reddening and warming of the ears
- Moisture/wetness around the nostrils
- Rapid breathing or even panting
- Listlessness or odd behaviour
- Fits (seizures)
Preventing heatstroke is all about keeping your rabbit cool:
- Provide a shady place for your rabbit whenever they are outside
- Keep long coats well-groomed, and remove any excess fur to keep their coat as light as possible
- Keep your rabbit somewhere with a breeze
- Provide plenty of fresh water (this can be iced, to keep it super cool. Dampening fresh veggies before feeding can also increase water intake)
- Spray their ears with water (evaporative cooling can help them thermoregulate)
- Provide cool tiles or cold, wet towels to lie on
If your rabbit is breathing fast and you suspect your rabbit is suffering from heatstroke, contact your vet immediately. Do not try and submerge 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 be very serious, so quick intervention is important.
Rabbits may get a chance to explore the garden in the summer months, but be careful! Rabbits can slip through some tiny gaps, and may explore further than you had planned.
- Make sure anything not secured is put away. Falling spades, pots, or other garden accessories and tools can be a huge hazard to rabbits
- Find safe and secure storage for any garden chemicals a curious rabbit can make themselves ill very fast
- Always supervise your rabbit if they are outside without a run. Rabbits love to dig (surprise, surprise!) and will often test the boundaries of any area
- Provide plenty of shelter. A hot garden, with no shelter, can soon turn into a death trap if your rabbit cannot cool themselves
- Check for poisonous plants in the garden, and make sure they are out of reach or removed
- Check perimeter fencing carefully rabbits can get through surprisingly small gaps, and easily escape. Consider getting your rabbit microchipped, to give them some identification if they do go missing
How to make a rabbit run
Another thing you might consider when rabbit proofing your garden is making a rabbit run for your furry friend to safely enjoy the outdoors.
Whilst we’re no experts on construction, we do have some handy tips on housing your rabbit here.
You may be off on holiday over the summer, and needing to think about care for your rabbit while you are away.
- Home care. Getting a friend, family member or neighbour to pop in several times a day to check on your rabbit can be a great way to keep your rabbit happy, as they won't have to be in an unfamiliar environment. Whoever comes in, however, should spend time with your rabbit every day, and be confident with rabbits, to make sure your rabbit gets the same care they are used to from you.
- Professional pet sitter. Professionals can come round regularly to check on your pet. They should have experience with rabbits, and it can be easier to negotiate exactly what service you want them to provide than it is with friend or family volunteers.
- Boarding. More and more boarding facilities are being set up for our smaller pets, including rabbits. This allows you to know your rabbit is being taken care of all day, but make sure to take items that are familiar for your rabbit, so they feel at home.
Flystrike is one of the biggest summer dangers for rabbits. As the weather warms, flies start to appear. While many are harmless some, such as the bottle fly, lay their eggs in fur. They are especially attracted to damp or soiled fur, which is most commonly found around the back end of rabbits. Damp and dirt can build up on rabbits if they are not regularly checked, if they are suffering with obesity, they have an incorrect diet, dental problems or wet housing. These eggs hatch into maggots which burrow into the skin, leading to shock and rapid death.
Flystrike can be prevented by a combination of methods. The first is top-notch husbandry – the happier and healthier your rabbit is, the less likely they will become afflicted with flystrike. Checking your rabbit all over daily, with special attention to their rear end, will make sure any problems are picked up fast. Any dental, tummy or dietary problems should be discussed with your vet as soon as possible.
It is also possible to use sprays and liquids to prevent flystrike – these either repel flies, or prevent eggs from developing into maggots. This seasonal flystrike protection is an important part of rabbit care, and should be part of the normal seasonal routine even for the healthiest of rabbits.
With our Complete Care Health Plan, you'll receive season flystrike protection for your rabbit.