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The College of Animal Welfare

Top tips for keeping rabbits cool this summer!

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A rabbit sitting in the shade

Are you making sure your pets are staying cool and safe in the rising temperatures this summer? The British Veterinary Association (BVA), British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) and British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS) are advising that you take extra care if you are a rabbit owner as they are particularly vulnerable in high heats.

 

Rabbits are prone to heat stroke at temperatures as high as 27 degrees centigrade and do not have the ability to regulate their body temperature by sweating or panting.

If you want to avoid the potentially deadly consequences of the hot weather this summer, the BVA, BSAVA and BVZS have suggested some top tips for rabbit owners:

  • Give your rabbits access to shade and water at all times and make sure their home/enclosure has a good airflow.
  • Place a ceramic tile or paving slab in a shaded area of your rabbit’s enclosure. This will give them a nice cool area to lie on.
  • Keep your rabbit refreshed by lightly misting their ears with cold water. Keep in mind that submerging a rabbit in water can cause shock and anxiety, which will increase their core body temperature. So don’t do it!
  • Freezing a plastic bottle full of water and placing it in your rabbit’s enclosure is a great way to cool off your rabbit as they will be able to lie against it.

Sean Wensley, President of the British Veterinary Association, said:

“While most of us look forward to warmer weather, many of our pets, including rabbits, can quickly overheat, with signs of heatstroke including weakness, disorientation and breathing heavily with their mouth open. If your rabbits show any of these signs you should contact your vet straight away.”

Mark Stidworthy, President of the British Veterinary Zoological Society, 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. Plenty of clean fresh water should always be available.”

It just so happens to be ‘Rabbit Awareness Week’ (RAW), this week (18-26 June 2016)! For the past 10 years, RAW has been campaigning for better rabbit care and welfare in the UK! Find out how you can best look after your rabbit here.

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