Heat stroke in rabbits can be fatal, so it is essential to keep your furry friends cool now that summer has finally arrived. Rabbits cannot sweat or pant to help bring down their body temperature, so are particularly susceptible to suffering in the hot weather.

Here are some simple steps that you can take to stop your rabbits from over-heating in the summer…

  • Ensure that your rabbits’ enclosure is in a cool place out of direct sunlight
  • Freeze a partially filled 2-litre plastic water bottle, wrap it in an old towel and place it in your rabbits’ enclosure for them to lay next to
  • Provide both a bowl and bottle of water and add ice cubes to keep them cool
  • Place a large ceramic tile or tunnel in your rabbits’ enclosure

If your rabbits’ have been exposed to the heat this summer and you are worried that they may be suffering from heat stroke, the signs to look out for include:

  • A fully stretched out rabbit with feet sprawled apart and limp tail
  • Sleepy or disorientated appearance
  • Rapid/laboured breathing, tongue hanging out
  • Dribbling

Refusal to eat or drink can also be a symptom, but remember that if your rabbit ever refuses to eat or drink for more than six hours, you should seek veterinary advice immediately.

If you think your rabbit has heat stroke you should get them to your vet straight away. For the journey there, wetting your rabbits’ ears and feet and draping their body in a wet towel can help. Never use ice, icy water or submerge a rabbit to try and cool them down.

In this hot weather, it is also vitally important to check your rabbit twice a day for flystrike.

If you follow the simple steps above, your rabbit should be able to handle the rising mercury this summer.

To find out more about caring for your rabbits, visit our YouTube Channel and take a look at our 5-step Essential Rabbit Guide videos. Part One provides tips on your rabbits’ environment and Part Three, advice on heath.