How to keep your rabbit cool and safe in hot weather

It’s important to keep a close watch on your rabbit during the warm weather. Rabbits aren’t able to tolerate heat well and can even die from being overheated.

If the temperature where your rabbit is, is above 77°F (25°C), it can be dangerous, especially for the following groups:

    • Very young rabbits
    • Elderly rabbits
    • Overweight rabbits
    • Long-haired rabbits (i.e., a lionhead or angora rabbit)

Make sure you know the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke so you can act quickly if needed:

    • General lethargy and disinterest in moving or eating
    • Very fast, shallow breathing
    • Lying flat on the floor, almost unresponsive
    • Tossing their head back while breathing rapidly from an open mouth
    • Ears that are very hot to the touch
    • Wet nose

If you notice these symptoms, act immediately:

    • Do not submerge your rabbit in cold water as it may cause shock.
    • Move your rabbit to a cool, shaded area.
    • Dampen their ears with cool water or wrap their ears with a cold washcloth,
    • Provide cold water for drinking.
    • Contact an experienced rabbit veterinarian for more advice on how to proceed. If you cannot reach an experienced rabbit veterinarian, call your nearest animal emergency hospital to see if they can help.

Even without air conditioning, there are several ways to keep your rabbit cool:

    • Ensure your rabbit’s room gets plenty of shade, especially where their pen is located.
    • Set up a circulating fan to move air without blowing directly on your rabbit.
    • Drape a damp towel over part of their pen near a circulating fan or open, screened window with a breeze for cooler air.
    • Place a ceramic tile or brick in your rabbit’s favorite spot. For extra coolness, refrigerate the tile or brick for 15 minutes.
    • Add ice cubes to your rabbit’s water bowl to entice them to drink.
    • Lightly mist your rabbit’s ears with cool water to help dissipate heat. Rabbits regulate heat through their ears and can’t sweat.
    • Ahead of time, freeze water bottles filled with water and place them in your rabbit’s area for them to lean against. Some rabbits will only lean against frozen water bottles wrapped in a towel or sock.
    • Keep your rabbit hydrated by providing plenty of fresh, wet veggies. See the HRS rabbit-safe veggie list.
    • Regularly brush your rabbit to get excessive fur off them, and consider trimming long-haired rabbits for the summer, using dull children’s scissors.

Further Reading

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