05/01/2017

Put the safety and comfort of your rabbits and guinea pigs first this summer

The blazing sun beats down on us and we cool down by swimming, drinking ice water or sitting in an air-conditioned area. However, when the sun beats down on guinea pigs and rabbits their thick fur combined with their inability to effectively cool their core temperatures can be troublesome.

Animals try desperately to escape the heat, and those that don’t sweat or pant often struggle to lower their body temperatures, sometimes succumbing to potentially fatal heatstroke. Keeping your furry friends cool in summer is essential, and the simple act of putting them in an air-conditioned room or shaded area can make all the difference.

What else can you do to keep your furry friends cool and comfortable throughout the warmer months?

Keep the water flowing

Hydration is the first and foremost important step to ensuring your rabbits and guinea pigs remain comfortable. As much as they don’t sweat, they still need plenty of fresh water to drink, which will keep them hydrated and help them cool down.

Block out the sun

If you don’t have the option to keep your rabbit or guinea pig inside your home then ensure all enclosures are in a cool place, away from direct sunlight. Use umbrellas and parasols to keep your rabbits and guinea pigs out of the sun.

When you’re out

If you keep your guinea pigs and rabbits indoors in the air conditioning, it’s assumed that they will be cool, but that’s not always the case. Heat will sometimes hang and stagnate, and without some movement of the air, it can become suffocating.

Keep windows open for a draft to blow through your home. If it’s a particularly humid and stagnant day, keep the fan or air-conditioning on for better air circulation.

Keep them cool

A popular trick with rabbit and guinea pig owners is to put frozen water bottles in the hutch. Your pets can lie against them to stay cool. Keep a few in the freezer and use large bottles as they take longer to thaw.

But, how do you know when your rabbit or guinea pig needs assistance?

The older rabbits and guinea pigs become the less tolerant they are to hot weather. If your animal exhibits any of the following symptoms, you need to immediately contact us:

  • Disorientated – A possible sign of dehydration and an overheating body.
  • Laboured or open mouth breathing – This can be a desperate attempt to cool themselves down
  • Limpness

In the meantime, you can stabilise them by taking them to a cooler place, and gently wiping them down with water (if they will tolerate it) and increasing cool air flow around them by using a fan or air conditioning unit.

Contact Unusual Pet Vets for more information on how to best take care of your animal. They are specialist veterinarians with experience and knowledge on many common and unusual pets.