Is Your Pet Rabbit Suffering From Heat Stroke?

Rabbits are furry animals who have their fur on year in year out. Unlike humans who can change what they wear depending on what season of the year it is, rabbits, don’t have the luxury of changing their coats at any time.

In seasons such as the Winter season, rabbits enjoy this season as they don’t have to battle with heat, and they have their fur to ward off the cold. But their fur becomes a significant problem when it is Summertime, and they have difficulty adapting to the rise in temperature.

The ideal room temperature for humans in the Summer is 73°F to 78°F, but for your pet rabbit, the perfect room temperature they can be in during the Summer Season is 60°F to 70°F. Peradventure the temperature increases from 70°F and above, this might cause your pet rabbit to start getting overheated. And this might bring about discomfort in their body.

Humans and some pet animals have a way of cooling down when they are exposed to high temperature. For humans, they cool down the high temperature by sweating. When humans perspire, the evaporating sweat takes the heat away and cools the body. It is the same for animals such as dogs, who sweat and also pant to deal with the heat and reduce their body temperature. Other animals are not quite lucky with managing heat. While humans and dogs can find a way around heat, animals such as pet rabbits are not so fortunate.

How to Detect your Rabbit is having a Heat Stroke

  • Check For Warm and Flushed Ears
  • Look Out For Warm Feet and Wobbly Legs
  • Monitor His Breath
  • Pay Attention To His Appetite
  • Take A Look At His Fur
  • Watch His Behavior: Is he restless? 
  • Look Out For Drooling and blood tinted nasal fluid
  • Check For Trembling and Seizures
  • Be Cautious Of A Collapse

Let´s analyze these symptoms 

Gus, resting under the shadow of a tree on a hot summer day.

Check For Warm and Flushed Ears: Heat stroke can cause the ears of the sick rabbit to become reddish or pinkish, this is due to the dilation of the blood vessels. You need to look at the ears of your rabbit very keenly, if you find your rabbit’s ears flushed, there is every possibility your rabbit is suffering from heat stroke.

Look Out For Warm Feet and Wobbly Legs: A rabbit with heat stroke will find it challenging to walk agile and fast, the rabbit will most definitely walk on wobbly legs, and if you check correctly, he (the rabbit) might have warm feet as well.

Monitor His Breath: A pet rabbit who is breathing or panting heavily like he is trying to catch his breath, and is shaking his head vigorously while it is suffering from heat stroke.

When you find your pet rabbit struggling with breathing, with his mouth open, then it is a sign that he is suffering from heat stroke.

Pay Attention To His Appetite: Another sign that your pet rabbit is sick with heat stroke is a loss of appetite. You have to monitor how your rabbit eats. Is he eating as he should? How much is he eating? These are the questions you need answers to, to diagnose if your rabbit is sick or healthy because when your rabbit loses the urge to eat, most especially if he is one with a large appetite on a typical day, then all might not be well with him health wise.

Take A Look At His Fur: Heat stroke sickness can make the fur of your rabbit change from its smooth, shiny look to a dull and spiky one, hence you need to look out for a change in the texture of your rabbit’s fur.

Watch His Behavior: Is he restless?  Is he coordinated in his movements and actions? A rabbit down with heat stroke will be restless and uncoordinated. He will not sit or stay in a spot. You might find him moving in an uncoordinated manner around the house.

Look Out For Drooling and blood tinted nasal fluid:  A sick rabbit is one thing, but a sick drooling rabbit is another thing,  and a sick rabbit drooling blood is a bad thing. So, you have to look out for traces of blood in your rabbit’s spittle and mucus.  If your rabbit drools a tinge of blood from the mouth and the nose, it is a red flag and a cause for alarm. He is suffering from heat stroke.

Check For Trembling and Seizures: If you find your pet rabbit having seizures and trembling on a hot Summer day,  it means something is wrong with his internal organs and system, which can be caused by heat stroke.

Be Cautious Of A Collapse: Collapsing is not a good thing in the real sense of it,  so you have to monitor your pet rabbit on a regular basis, collapsing is not a good omen. It is the sign of a dangerous ailment such as heat stroke. Find a way of taking him to the hospital as soon as he shows signs of weariness or tiredness.

If you monitor your rabbit and find him exhibiting any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to take him to see a vet as soon as possible, for proper diagnosis and treatment. It is a no-brainer that no pet owner would be happy to see their pet go through these symptoms.

It is not advisable that you allow your rabbit experience more than one of these symptoms before you take him for a proper check-up,  diagnosis, and treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment will help nip the sickness in the bud before it gets worse beyond treatment.

How To Take Care Of A Rabbit With Heat Stroke

  • Feed your rabbit with lots of water.  A rabbit suffering from heat stroke will be dehydrated, so it is advisable you give your rabbit lots of water.
  • Change his diet from the usual diet to something more nutritious. Do more of greens and vegetables.
  • Pamper your rabbit. Animals can sense when someone cares for them, and when they are not cared for.  Giving your bunny the right attention and the company will help him feel better by the day.
  • Get rid of every form of heat. Make sure your sick rabbit stays in a cool spot.
  • Wrap a cold towel around his legs and forehead. Damp his fur with the cold towel.  
  • Handle your sick rabbit with utmost care.  An ill rabbit is different from a healthy one, and you can’t touch or carry a sick rabbit as you would a sick one.A sick rabbit is meant to be handled with care and gentility.
  • Mind you,  don’t be tempted to dunk him in a bathtub or open the shower on his head, this could be hazardous to his health too.  It could lead him into shock. No need to complicate issues.
  • The last but most crucial way to cure your bunny of his heat stroke is to take him to the veterinarian as soon as you notice any of these symptoms.

As you can see the steps to keeping your bunny safe from heat stroke are quite easy and not expensive, so it shouldn’t be burdensome for you to prevent your rabbit from heat stroke.

How To Avert Heat Stroke

House and Gus enjoying an ice cool bottle of water during a hot Summer evening.
  • You might have to find somewhere outside to keep your rabbit, to allow him to have a feeling of dampness and coldness outside, which they might not get inside.

All you have to do is provide a highly ventilated shade for your rabbit outside the house.

  •  If you don’t buy the idea of keeping your pet outside, then you have the option of air conditioning your home if not all the time, then most of the time. This will help keep your bunny’s temperature on the low. An air-conditioner blowing at around 80°F will do just fine. Fans can be a cheaper option to take into account. Be careful of placing your rabbit directly in front of the fan; it could be harmful and dangerous. To avoid creating another jeopardy while trying to avert one, keep your bunny some feet away from the fan.
  • An even cheaper, but very effective option is to make cold bottles available for your bunny. Keep it close to where he or she sits. The chill coming from the containers can help cool your rabbit down. Based on my personal experience this cooling method works very well, and our rabbits love to seat nearby this cold bottles ( as you can see on the image above ) during the hot summer days.
  • Even while you are considering these man-made cooling methods, don’t forget the natural way of getting fresh air. Open all your windows to allow thorough ventilation all over the house.
  • Don’t hesitate to trim down the volume of fur on your bunny if his hair is in excess. Too much fur causes overheating, so reducing your rabbit’s fur is another way to help to reduce heat.
  • If your tiles are ceramic or stony, your rabbit will sure enjoy laying on them,  to have a feel of the coldness of the tiles.
  • Minding your bunny’s diet is another way to keep your rabbit cool in the Summer. Rid your rabbit’s diet of fiber, as fiber are great sources of heat. Vegetables are preferable to feed your rabbits.
  • Your bunny needs lots of cold water to stay cool. Fill his drinking bowl with lots of cold water; you can throw in some pieces of ice cubes while you are at it.
  • If you are experiencing a power outage, there are ways you can keep your rabbit cool without power:
  1.  Buy a battery powered hand fan that can blow enough breeze on your rabbit at the right time.
  2. The ceramic tiles can work well here too.
  3. Put your rabbit in your bathtub without water.  Baths can help cool your bunny’s fur.

Following these steps is a sure way to get your rabbit cool and safe from heat stroke. All your rabbit needs to stay cool during Summer is to be exposed to cool humidity.

If your rabbit has gone past the prevention stage and is already down with heat stroke, there are few things you can do to help get him better and hale.



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