A trio of veterinary organisations have joined forces to remind pet owners to take special care of their rabbits this summer as they are susceptible to suffering in hot weather.
The BVA, the BSAVA and the British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS) put together the following tips:
- Ensure your rabbits’ home and enclosure is kept shaded from the sun, with good airflow and constant access to fresh water.
- Place a ceramic tile or paving slab in your rabbits’ enclosure for them to lie on and cool down. Make sure this is kept in the shade, otherwise it will heat up in sunlight.
- Lightly misting rabbits’ ears with cold water is an effective way to help cool them; however, never submerge a rabbit in water as this can cause shock and anxiety, which will increase their core body temperature.
- Freeze plastic bottles of water and place them in your rabbit’s enclosure so they can lie against them.
Mixture of shelters
BVZS president Mark Stidworthy said: “Wild rabbits retreat into the cool of their burrows when it gets too hot outside. Rabbits in hutches or smaller pens can find themselves trapped in full sun without the freedom to escape into shade.
“Owners should make sure hutches and pens are properly shaded in summer. Ideally, a larger secure pen with a mixture of shelters, including natural areas of deep shade, will give rabbits the control they need to keep comfortable on very hot days.”
Fly strike is also a life threatening risk in warmer months, so ensure rabbits have clean bottoms and their living space is kept clean to prevent maggot infestation. Vets should be contacted immediately in cases of infestation.