Myriad people are endangered every day by the exponentially increasing warming of the air around the whole world. Animals are in danger too. That is why it is essential to keep an eye on our rabbit friends as well.
If you simply walk outside for a few minutes during hot summer days, you will quickly feel uncomfortable. Now, imagine if you were wearing an angora sweater in this blazing weather. Rabbits in the wild try to find shelter under the trees or bushes to cool their body down when exposed to hot sunlight. However, pet rabbits need to be cared for cautiously to avoid the possible issues on hot summer days.
In this article, we are going to discuss various aspects of overheating in rabbits. Then, we will find out the symptoms and the procedures to cool the body of these adorable animals down efficiently.
Sweating is the normal reaction of the human body to overheating. For pigs, it is wallowing in mud. Dogs also pant in such cases. On the other hand, rabbits do not do any of these defensive measures. The only mechanism that rabbits make use of to battle overheating is to disappear into the bushes and burrow into the dirt to avoid the burning sunlight. Otherwise, rabbits may overheat.
Rabbits’ entire bodies are covered in fur, except for their eyes. In the wild, their only solution to keep their body cool is to find shelter. In the case of pet rabbits, you need to keep them in a fairly cool area. It is fine to keep them at room temperature, but anywhere hotter than that increases the risk of overheating.
If you are not sure whether your rabbit is overheating, you can detect it by paying attention to specific signs and symptoms. Below, we are going to see the most widespread signs of overheating in pet rabbits:
you may notice that your rabbit is eating less than before, or not at all. This is one of the primary symptoms of overheating in rabbits. To overcome this situation, one solution is to gradually change your rabbit’s diet to include food that is high in water content, such as tomatoes and cucumbers.
Rabbits that are slowly moving and seem to be out of energy, may be overheating. Excessive heat prevents the pet from jumping and playing eagerly.
The interior or exterior area of your rabbit’s ears may become red when the pet is overheating. That shows that the rabbit is trying to cool down their body on their own.
If you see your rabbit is recently uninterested in playing or getting attention and just lies around, you should check to see if it is overheated.
It is not normal for a pet rabbit to drool. If you suddenly see drooling on your rabbit’s chin, then it is excessively salivating which is not normal.
If you see your rabbit has difficulty breathing, it will probably take short, shallow breaths to cool down its body fast. That proves that your bunny is overheated.
Several signs show your rabbit is dehydrated:
- Your rabbit may produce less urine. Also, the urine may look darker in colour, or have a stronger smell.
- Your rabbit’s face may look unusual, smaller, or very dry.
- Diarrhoea is also another sign of dehydration in rabbits.
- Your bunny may stop drinking well. Drinking inadequately can also lead to eating not enough food.
Other signs and symptoms of overheating in rabbits include the followings:
- Wet fur underneath the nose
- Heavy breathing
- Flared nostrils
- Sprawling out on the floor
- Half-closed eyes
To prevent your bunny from facing different risks of overheating, especially on burning summer days, there are several measures you can take. Let us review some of the essential ones here:
The rabbits’ ears are important organs of their bodies to pay attention to when they are overheated. If you can see that the blood vessels in your pet’s ears are swelled and red, this can show that your rabbit is overheated.
Also, you should check for other signs and symptoms of overheating in your rabbit. The most important symptoms of overheating in rabbits were mentioned earlier in this article.
The ideal temperature for bunnies to live comfortably is between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite that, they can tolerate high temperatures up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit if necessary. However, anything over this temperature increases the risk of heatstroke significantly.
To avoid any issues, you need to attentively monitor the outside temperature, especially on hot summer days. Rabbits’ fur somehow traps the sunlight, hence quickly making the pets’ bodies hot.
Also, you can place your rabbit’s cage away from sunlight. Covering the windows, or maybe even taking the cage to a cooler part of the house like the basement is also a good approach. What’s more, you can manage the air conditioning unit of your house properly to make sure your rabbit receives enough cool air, or even purchase a standing air conditioning unit for the particular room where your bunny lives.
You can prepare a fan for your rabbit’s cage if possible. The fan can blow fresh air into the rabbit’s cage, but be careful not to place it directly in front of the pet. This way, you can create a nice breeze to cool your rabbit down. Also, you should set the fan such that your rabbit cannot chew on the cord as it is deadly hazardous.
If your cage is wire-covered, it can easily let fresh air in from all directions. Try to build the bedding with absorbent and non-toxic materials such as straw or wheat-based materials as they can air out easily. One more thing to consider is the ceiling fan. If you combine a ceiling fan with floor fans, you will be able to effectively ventilate your pet’s cage and area.
Especially when a fan is running in the cage area, placing a wet towel on the top of the cage can be a fantastic approach to cool down the rabbit. The wet towel can provide shade over the cage, all the while the cool moisture is making the area cooler. You can use a simple shower towel, soak it in cool water, and place it on the top of the cage. Make sure the towel is not preventing the free circulation of the air, and it is not also dripping.
Another useful measure to take is to place some ice packs underneath the rabbit’s cage to make the bottom of the cage efficiently cool. Also, you can freeze a water bottle and place it somewhere in the cage so your bunny can stick to it if it needs to. Keep in mind that you should not let your furry friend be in direct contact with ice, as it may lower the pet’s body temperature in a flash.
Usually, it is cooler in the mornings and evenings. It is a wise approach to limit your rabbit’s exercise time to these periods during the day. Your rabbit needs to have a couple of hours to spend out of the cage and play freely every day.
Rabbits normally tend to shed frequently. They clean themselves and remove the excess fur and dander. If your pet sheds and does not clean itself, the excess fur can act like an insulation layer. This layer is useful in winters but can lead to overheating in summers.
Therefore, you should brush your rabbit down from its head to the posterior. Do not remove all the fur or hurt your pet. It is crucial to do this procedure frequently throughout the summertime.
To keep your rabbit hydrated, you can put some small ice cubes in your pet’s water bottle. This is a good approach if you need to leave your house for a long time. It takes a long time for ice cubes to melt. Throughout this period, the water can remain cool and your rabbit can cool its body down.
Also, you can give veggies to your rabbit to keep it hydrated. You can soak small carrots and other various vegetables in water and place them in your rabbit’s cage. This helps your bunny receive more water through the food.
You can lightly mist your pet with a mixture of rubbing alcohol-water solution. To do so, mix one-part 50 per cent rubbing alcohol and three parts water in a spray bottle. Then, spray it on the outside of your bunny’s ears and the top of its paws. Once the mixture is evaporating, the process can quickly cool the rabbit down.
If you have tested all the measures above and still think your bunny is overheated and in danger, try to call your vet as the last solution. They may ask you to try different cooling measures in advance and bring the pet into the clinic if nothing else works.