RABBITS FOR ALL SEASONS: SUMMER
Rabbits don't tolerate heat well and can die from heat stroke. Always keep an eye on your rabbit, especially during the heat of summer. If humidity is high, the heat index can rise to dangerous levels even when the air temperature is only 80°.
Ways to keep your rabbit cool during hot weather:
- Set up a fan that will blow past him without being directly on him. Be sure to bunny proof any electrical cords.
- Run an air conditioner in the room where the bunny lives.
- Fill large plastic soda bottles with water and freeze them. Placed in his cage, a bunny can relax against or near them for relief.
- Keep him out of the sun.
- Place a large ceramic or marble tile (which stays cooler than room temperature) on the floor of his area for him to lie on.
- Put ice cubes in his water dish and make sure he has plenty of water.
- Move him to a cooler part of the house, like the basement, during hot days.
- Mist his ears to keep them cool, since heat dissipates through a rabbit's ears.
- Brush out any loose fur from his coats.
- Give him plenty of wet veggies to keep him hydrated.
Early signs that your rabbit is suffering from summer stress include lethargy, panting and dehydration. Signs of heat stroke include unresponsiveness, being uncoordinated and convulsions. If you suspect heat stroke, dampen his ears and body with cool water, but DO NOT submerge him in cold water as this can cause shock. GET HIM TO YOUR VETERINARIAN OR EMERGENCY CLINIC IMMEDIATELY!
See the House Rabbit Society's page on Heat Stroke for more information.
Fly strike (maggot infestation) can kill a healthy animal who has temporary loose stools, urinary problems or an open sore very quickly. Especially at risk are disabled, overweight or aging bunnies who are unable to clean themselves.
Flies seek to lay their eggs in warm, moist areas and are drawn to the odor of fur dampened with urine and feces. The damage they cause goes beyond the surface as they burrow into the rabbit's flesh releasing toxins that can cause lethal shock very quickly.
If you suspect fly strike, get your rabbit to a veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately.
See the House Rabbit Society's page on Fly Strike for more information.
Leaving a bunny outdoors, even for a short time on a nice day, increases his chances of both getting overheated and being in contact with flies, fleas and disease-carrying mosquitos.
A rabbit outdoors can be killed (or literally frightened to death) by neighborhood predators including raccoons, dogs, cats, and birds of prey; or severely injured trying to escape. Wire cages and pens offer no protection.
A rabbit outdoors can be exposed to poisonous plants, toxic pesticides and fertilizers, and diseases spread by the feces of raccoons and feral cats who pass through your yard.
They are also at risk of theft or teasing by humans and can escape, even from your arms, if frightened.
Other LIRRG articles:
Rabbits for all Seasons, Autumn: Outside Rabbits? Don't Fall for it!
Rabbits for all Seasons, Winter: How to Have a Hoppy Holiday
Rabbits for all Seasons, Spring: There is no Retirement Home for Unwanted Easter Bunnies