As the UK prepares itself for even hotter days, vets are reminding owners to protect small furries from soaring temperatures by keeping them away from direct sunlight and with plenty of fresh water.
A recent survey undertaken by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) found that there had been an increase in the numbers of companion animal vets treating smaller pets for heat related conditions with just over one in seven (15%) saying that they had treated a rabbit.
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.
BVA 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.
• 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.