Heatstroke in Rabbits
Heat stroke is incredibly dangerous for rabbits. Whether your rabbit lives outside or is an indoor rabbit, heatstroke will happen when your rabbits body temperature rises above a critical temperature. If this happens, they unable to cool themselves down and will start to overheat. In extreme circumstances, their airways can stop working, they will find it hard to breathe and their organs could shut down.
Once the warmer months hit, wild rabbits will normally go under ground to stay cool. However, domestic rabbits won’t be able to do this, so you need to think of ways to help your rabbit stay cool and comfortable throughout the summer days.
If your rabbit is an outdoor rabbit and has a hutch or run in the garden, make sure it is in a shaded area. If you don’t have a shaded area, you can always cover the hutch or run with a towel or put it under a gazebo to keep the sun off them. Try not to put their hutch or run next to a wall or shed as they can radiate heat off them even when in the shade.
As for indoor rabbits, make sure you don’t keep their hutch near a radiator, fire or in direct sunlight. Never keep them in a conservatory as this area can become extremely hot!
Always make sure your rabbit has access to fresh food and cool drinking water. You will need to keep checking throughout the day as your rabbit will drink more water in the summer months.
Provide your rabbit with a cool down and stretch out area in their run or hutch. You could do this by making part of the floor out of stones or concrete slabs. You could also put wet cold towels down or rabbit safe cooling mats. Placing frozen plastic bottles around their run will give your rabbit a cold surface to lie close to.
Tunnels, cardboard boxes/tubes, and litter trays filled with soil can help your rabbit stay cool and provides them with opportunities to dig and hide.
Grooming your rabbit is a good way of ensuring they stay cool and helps to rid of all that excess fur. We don’t go out in the heat with a thick coat on so why should your rabbits?
If your rabbit lives indoors make sure the room they are in has good ventilation. Open a window or put on a fan. Just remember don’t have them directly in the draughts.
If you think your rabbit has heatstroke you should put them in a shaded/cool area immediatly, and place them on a cool surface, maybe a cool wet towel on the floor. However, don’t wrap them up in the towel, as this could stop the heat escaping.
Call your local Willows branch, they will be able to give you advice on what to do next.