Hot days can overwhelm pets that live in hutches such as guinea pigs and rabbits. Hutches can provide shelter from the hot sun, but they can also heat up very quickly.
Here are some tips for helping your rabbit or guinea pig stay cool over summer:
- Find a shady position in the garden or yard to put the hutch. Keep it out of direct sunlight. Extra shade can be provided by draping a towel or sheet over part of the exercise run.
- Create a cool area for your rabbit or guinea pig to lie on. This can be achieved by placing some ceramic tiles in the hutch. Make sure the tiles remain in the shade.
- Remember your rabbit or guinea pig is likely to drink more on hot days. Ensure they have access to plenty of fresh, clean water. Keep checking the water levels throughout the day so you can top up if required. If using a bottle and spout to supply water, be sure to check the spout doesn’t become blocked.
- If your rabbit or guinea pig is long-haired, brush them regularly to remove any excess hair.
If you are the caregiver of a rabbit or guinea pig, it is important that you are able to recognise symptoms of overheating. Watch for weakness and lethargy, reddening of the ears, panting, and convulsions. If you see your rabbit displaying any of these signs in hot weather, use cool water to dampen their fur and contact your vet clinic immediately.
Linda Sharp – Pet Vet at Franklin Vets Pukekohe