Hot Bunnies! How to keep you Rabbit Cool in the Summer
Now that summer has officially begun, I thought I’d write a post about how to keep your precious bunnies cool in this hot weather.
For your bunny to be safest and live longest, domestic rabbits should be kept indoors, period. They are highly susceptible to heat extremes and stress, which can rapidly cause death. Keeping your rabbit in your home is also the best way for them to relax and bond with your family. You’ll also be able to tell quickly if there are any other health issues you might miss if your bun lives outdoors. So what are some ways to keep your home cool and comfortable for your fur-baby?
- Make sure your home is an acceptable temperature for your rabbit. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for someone with a fur coat on! Use your air conditioner or fans to keep your home cool.
- Your rabbit’s pen needs to be out of direct sunlight, so be sure to determine how much sunlight is streaming through the windows in the rabbit’s main area.
- Place a fan directly near your rabbit’s area or in his or her room. Make sure the cord is in a bunny-proofed position! You can even place damp towels on the side of your rabbit’s pen and let the fan blow through them; this will create cooler air.
- Frozen water bottles are a cheap and easy addition to your rabbit’s room. Wrap them in towels and place them in prime lounging territory - some buns love lying next to them to keep cool.
- Bowls or tubs of ice can provide some relief from the heat, as well as another way for your rabbit to stay hydrated.
- Ceramic tiles or small slabs of marble are great for making a cool spot for you bun to lie on.
- Always keep your rabbit well-groomed to remove excess hair. If you have a long-haired rabbit, getting them a shorter “summer cut” may be a good option to help keep them cooler.
- Rabbits should always have plenty of fresh, bun-safe veggies. Rinse them well with cool water before giving them to your bunny; this will help keep them hydrated.
- If your rabbit will tolerate it, you can mist his or her ears with a spray bottle. A lot of heat dissipates through the ears, and misting them will help cool the blood.
Signs of Heat Stroke or Stress in Rabbits
- Increased respiration rate (fast breathing)
- Breathing with an open mouth
- Increased heart rate
- Warm or hot ears; redness of the ears
- Drooling or moisture around the muzzle area
- Refusal to drink water for extended periods of time
- Confused behavior
What should you do if you think your rabbit has heat stroke?
- Take your rabbit to a qualified veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Rabbits are highly sensitive to heat stroke, and they require immediate attention.
- Mist your rabbit’s ears with cool water, and wrap their body in a cool, damp towel. DO NOT SUBMERSE YOUR RABBIT IN COLD WATER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
- On the way to the veterinarian, make sure your car air conditioner is on and the car is as cool as possible.
Remember, though, that summer time can also be a fun time for your bunny, because trips outdoors are possible! If you would like to give your rabbit time to play outdoors, make sure they are in a secure space (i.e. exercise pen) that is safe from predators, toxic plants, and stressful noises. Make sure the top of the pen is covered to protect him/her from predators, and keep the pen in the shade. Supervise your bun at all times when he or she is outdoors, and always provide fresh water. It’s ok to let your rabbit munch on grass and dandelions when in your yard, but they need to be pesticide and poison-free.
Have a happy, and safe, bunny-filled summer!
- Emily, Veterinary Student and Bunny Blogger