Pet rabbits have limited ways to get rid of body heat. They can’t pant like dogs. Also, they can’t grab an ice cream for themselves like humans. For that reason, they are at high risk for heat stroke. But since they are so good at hiding stress and other health-related concerns, they don’t always appear vulnerable. That means, as a rabbit owner, you have to be extra vigilant to recognize signs of trouble in your pets.
Since heat stroke happens in an instant, especially when rabbits are exposed to direct sunlight, take note of its signs and take extra measures to prevent further complications. Here are some basic things to guide you and get you started.
Definition of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke happens when there is a sudden rise in the body temperature that is accompanied by neurological and physical signs. During these times, the rabbit’s body is not capable of dissipating heat. As a result, the body temperature rises. This problem is common among rabbit breeds with long hair like Angoras.
Because of what it can do, heat stroke is considered an emergency. If not treated, it can result in sudden demise.
Signs and Symptoms
Perhaps, the earliest and most visible signs of overheating in rabbits are excessive panting, drooling, wet nose, and reddening of the skin around the ears. The warmer they feel, the more likely they become confused. Sometimes, they even have difficulties in breathing.
When things get worse, they may demonstrate odd and unusual behaviours to the point that they no longer interact with you. In extreme cases, they may start to convulse, until they go into a coma state. And then, they may die. Thus, when you notice any of these symptoms, call the veterinarian right away.
When temperatures start to rise, our bunny friends are more likely to suffer heat stroke. Again, that is because they have a few means of releasing body heat.
Ideally, an indoor rabbit should be housed in a rabbit hutch or enclosure with a temperature of 60 to 70 Fahrenheit with no humidity. If the temperature is higher than that, expect temperature-related problems like respiratory diseases. When the temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit, that is the time when your bunnies are at high risk for heat stroke.
Preventing Heat Stroke
Perhaps, the best way to prevent heat stroke from causing harm to your pet rabbits’ well-being is by keeping them in an area with a controlled temperature. That means if they are kept indoors, a working air conditioner should keep them cool and comfortable. If an air cooler is not available, make sure to keep their shelter away from direct sunlight and a circulating fan should get the air moving.
For added comfort and relief against heat, frozen bottles of water in the rabbit hutch would be of great help. Provide them access to cool and fresh water to ensure they always stay hydrated. If you are raising rabbit breeds with long hair, you might want to groom their coat in preparation for summer.
Treatment for Heat Stroke
Sometimes, the electricity cuts off. And if that happens in the middle of a hot summer day, that could be fatal for you and your bunnies.
When you are dealing with heat stroke, every second counts. If you suspect your pet rabbit is suffering from heat stroke, start misting him with water. Get him to a cool area to lower his temperature. Putting him on a cool ceramic floor would help.
Next, cover his body with a cool towel. Apply ice cubes on his outer ears and head. And then, call the veterinarian right away. He will usually prescribe your pet with more saline fluid to recover fast.
Then again, the best first aid for rabbit heat stroke is not to let it happen in the first place. By taking action and knowing what to do, heat stroke won’t be an issue.
Finding a Good Veterinarian
All veterinarians can handle cases of heat stroke. However, as a pet rabbit owner, you should know how to pick a good vet. Well, if you’re just new to this, you can find recommendations online or through word-of-mouth. Ask your fellow rabbit owners for suggestions for the best veterinarians in town. They could definitely give you a name or two.
On the way to the clinic, make sure you pay attention to your bunny because one wrong move can worsen the situation. Besides keeping his head laid flat, keep his neck straight to keep the air passages open.
Although pet rabbits can recover quickly with the methods above, try your best to prevent heat stroke from happening. Bunnies can’t stand heat well, so do everything to get them out of direct sunlight. After all, providing a comfortable rabbit hutch is your best solution to prevent heat stroke.