Rabbits, guinea pigs and other small furries such as hamsters cannot sweat or pant so it is up to owners to help them regulate their body temperature. Long haired breeds of rabbits and guinea pigs or those which are overweight will also have a tougher time staying cool.
The BVA (British Veterinary Association) advises that hutches, runs or indoor cages should be protected from direct sunlight, kept well ventilated, and if needed, moved to shadier spots as the sun moves during the day. We also recommend double-checking that fresh water is easily accessible and that there is a shaded place for pets to hide.
In high temperatures, fly-strike can also be a life-threatening risk for rabbits so a daily inspection around their back end and under their tail is essential. Veterinary advice should be sought immediately if your pet is affected.
BVA Junior Vice President, Daniella Dos Santos said:
“We all know how important it is to stay cool and hydrated in hot weather. Pets can really suffer in such high temperatures and we should not forget that small furries will need help to cope.
“In the wild, rabbits and guinea pigs would hide away during the hottest points of the day and feed in the mornings or evening. It is up to owners to help protect pets from extreme temperatures so remembering to provide shade and plenty of fresh water as well as keeping hutches and cages out of direct sunlight and well ventilated, is essential.
“If you’re concerned about your pet in the hot weather, contact your local vet immediately.”
- Make sure pets always have adequate fresh water to drink and check for blockages in water feeders.
- Provide adequate ventilation at all times.
- Provide shade from the sun, especially during the hottest part of the day.
- Watch out for early signs of heatstroke, such as heavy panting, restlessness and lack of coordination.
- Contact a vet immediately if the animal does not respond to efforts to cool it down.
- If heatstroke or any other heat-related condition is suspected, pets should be taken to a cool, well-ventilated place and given water to drink while seeking immediate advice from their local vet.