Can Rabbits Get Heat Stroke?
Rabbits are very susceptible to heat stroke. In fact, hot weather is far more dangerous to them than cold weather. They should be placed in a shady area so they are not in the direct sun during the warmest parts of the day. This simple precaution will do a lot to keep your bunny safe.
Shade can lower the temperature enough to keep your pet comfortable. Even if your pet has shade, watch for the following signs. They can strike any rabbit during hot weather, especially when there are several days in a row so the night time temperatures don't cool down.
Signs that indicate possible heat stroke:
- Ears turn red
- Panting and lethargy
- Salivating; their noses actually become wet
- Weak movements
- Convulsions (this is very serious; get your pet to a vet immediately)
What You Can Do to Prevent Heat Stroke
On hot days, you can mist or wipe cool water onto your rabbit's ears to help them cool off. They don't sweat. They pant and dissipate excess heat through their ears. Lop eared rabbits are at more risk since their ears are not as effective at this due to their position. Don't let water drip into your bunny's inner ear, however. Never dip your pet into cold water; the shock may kill them.
Freeze 2-liter bottles of water and keep them handy. On days that hit 80 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, give your rabbit an ice bottle. They may lie near it, on it or lick it. The cool air that rises from the bottle will help your bunny get through the heat. Replace the bottle if it is still hot and the ice has melted.
Give your pet a ceramic tile as a resting board. The tile remains cool and helps provide relief to a warm rabbit when they sit on it.
Remove any loose fur your pet has.
Make sure your pet has plenty of water to drink 24 hours a day. Chunks of ice can be fun for them to play with. During really hot weather, you can also drape a damp towel over part of their cage. As the water evaporates, it will cool the air. Make sure it does not drip on your rabbit.
If your rabbit is in the house or in a barn, set up a fan or air conditioner. Don't let the breeze blow directly on your pet, but just let it stir the air for its cooling effects.
By following these tips, your rabbit will have a happy summer without worrying about heat stroke. It is imperative to check on your bunny every day, especially during hot weather and addressing any issues that arise.
If you must be gone during the day, check the weather report and attend to your pet accordingly before you leave. It is better to have a thawed ice bottle that must be refrozen on a day that didn't get as hot as anticipated to coming home to a pet suffering from heat stroke. A little prevention goes a long way.
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