The hottest season of the year is almost here, and the rising temperature places your bun at risk. Because of their thick fur, rabbits don’t do well in hot weather. Left on their own, they have a high chance of getting heatstroke, which can be fatal. So as the temperature starts its inexorably climb, let’s explore ways on how to keep rabbits cool in summer.
How Hot Is Too Hot for Rabbits Anyway?
Temperatures ranging from 50-70°F (10-21°C) are perfect for your bun. A slight rise of up to 75°F won’t matter much if he’s a short-haired breed but watch out when the temperature hovers between 80ºF-85ºF. Depending on the humidity, rabbits can start to overheat at that range. At 95º F, heat exhaustion is a distinct possibility as your bun might have trouble regulating his body temperature at that point.
How to Keep Your Rabbit Cool During Hot Days?
Rabbits who live outdoors are more susceptible to heatstroke because the heat can be intolerable even if they have access to shade. Since preventing heat distress is easier than treating it, you can try the following tips to ensure that your rabbit feels cool during the hot summer days.
1. Consider placing your bun in the basement
Heat rises, so the basement is usually the coolest part of the house. Moreover, with lesser windows, the area doesn’t get as much direct sunlight and, thus, less warmth. As a result, the temperature in the basement is at times 15 degrees lower than the upper levels.
2. Brush your rabbit often or give him a trim
Brushing helps get rid of the fur your bun sheds as the weather turns warmer. During summer, rabbits usually molt, casting off their winter coat. The process can take a while but brushing speeds up the removal of the excess hair, which traps heat. If you have a long-haired breed, you may want to give him a short summer haircut to keep him cool.
3. Leave the AC on
If you have air conditioning, consider leaving it on even when you’re not home, especially during the height of summer. Rabbits can’t deal with the heat the way cats and dogs do, and they can easily succumb to heatstroke if the temperature gets too high. If you’re not home to give your pet some relief, the results can be fatal.
4. Provide plenty of fresh water
Even if your bun usually drinks from a water bottle, he may welcome having an additional source of the refreshing liquid in a bowl during scorching weather. Alternatively, you can provide two water bottles, especially if you’ll be away for a while. This ensures that your pet’s supply doesn’t run out as buns tend to drink more during hot weather. You can even add ice cubes to his bowl to keep the water cooler longer.
5. Use less bedding
Extra bedding provides warmth during winter. But in hot weather, the bedding traps in heat and makes your bun’s cage suffocatingly warm. That’s why during the summer months, you can lessen the bedding material or remove it altogether if your pet is litter trained anyway. Instead, let your rabbit lie on a cool, flat surface to relieve the discomfort caused by the high temperature.
6. Wash the leafy greens in cool water
Instead of rinsing your pet’s ration of leafy greens in ordinary tap water, try soaking the veggies in cold water instead. Don’t shake off the droplets to make the greens more appealing and to provide extra hydration for your pet.
7. Create a makeshift cooling unit
As an alternative to keeping the AC unit on all day, you can create an improvised cooling unit for your bun by using a fan and a bowl filled with ice. Turn on the fan and let the air blow directly on the bowl of ice. Cool air will circulate in the room, bringing the temperature down to a more comfortable level.
8. Provide ample shade
Make sure there are shaded areas where he can hide to get away from the sun. Direct sunlight can easily lead to heat exhaustion or even heatstroke if your pet stays under it during the hottest times of the day. If you don’t have sources of natural shade (such as trees or bushes), you can use awnings or sun umbrellas to keep the sun out.
How Can You Tell If It’s Getting Too Hot for Your Rabbit?
Heatstroke poses a danger to rabbits during the hot summer months, and it can be fatal. That’s why it’s a good idea to determine the symptoms of heatstroke so you can act accordingly to save your bun.
Be on the lookout for the following:
- Lethargy or low energy: Although rabbits tend to be less active during summer, if your pet shows extreme lethargy, check to make sure it’s not getting too hot for him.
- Drooling: Rabbits don’t normally breathe through their mouth, so it’s a clear sign of distress when they do. Now, you may not always be able to tell if your pet is breathing through his mouth, but if you notice some wetness under his chin (assuming he hasn’t been drinking), then he’s probably drooling, resulting from the effort to breathe using his mouth.
- Red ears: Rabbits dissipate body heat through the ears. So the more heat your bun disperses, the hotter his ears get. As the temperature of those floppy appendages rises, the skin turns dark pink or red. Take this as a sign that your bun is having trouble coping with the heat.
- Confusion: If your bun looks confused (for example, he doesn’t seem to know where he wants to go), or if he wobbles while moving, maybe even falling over, get help for him immediately.
What to Do If Your Rabbit Suffers from Heatstroke?
Like we mentioned before, heatstroke is dangerous for rabbits, so if you think your bun is succumbing to the heat, you need to act immediately.
- Call the vet at once.
- Cool your rabbit down by bringing him to an air-conditioned area or the coolest room in your home.
- Spray some cool water behind his ears to help dissipate his body heat.
- Wrap your rabbit in a damp towel to bring his temperature down but make sure the towel is not soaking wet.
- If you have ice packs, wrap one in a towel and place it beside your pet so he can lean onto something cool.
Hopefully, you won’t ever see your pet suffering from the summer heat. By thinking ahead and planning for the coming hot days, you can be sure that your bun will have a cool summer.
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