How to keep rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters cool in hot weather
July 7, 2022
Even though they are small animals, the risk that hot temperatures pose to rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters is big. In fact, for most small pets, their ideal temperature range tops-out at 23-25°C and anything above can quickly become life-threatening. Some bunnies can tolerate temperatures as high as 30°C but it’s a risk not worth taking.
As rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters cannot sweat like humans do, and have limited options to cool themselves down, it’s up to their owners to help them survive summer heatwaves.
If you have questions after reading our article or concerns about your pet’s health, get in touch with our Christchurch team.
Symptoms of heatstroke in small furry pets
If your rabbit, guinea pig, or hamster starts to exhibit any of the following symptoms of heatstroke you should get them somewhere cool and call us on 01202 485880 for emergency advice.
- Shallow, accelerated breathing (panting)
- Excessive drooling (thick saliva)
- Hot ears
- Wet nose
- Bright red or blue tongue and gums
- Less urine output due to dehydration
- Lethargy and weakness
- Cardiac arrest
How to help small furries cope in summer
When the mercury is rising, there are some steps you should take to make sure your small furry pets stay safe. Best Friends’ team of experienced Vets have the following advice:
- Rabbits regulate their temperature through their ears so one way to boost their natural cooling system is to spray their ears with water – it will evaporate as it warms up. Avoid soaking your bunnies as this could put them at risk of respiratory illnesses.
- During hot weather in Dorset, move their hutch or cage out of direct sunlight and into the coolest spot that is practical.
- Keep water bottles and bowls topped up and if there is access to power nearby, think about setting up a fan (not pointed directly at the cage) to keep the air moving.
- Make a ‘cold water bottle’ and wrap it in a cloth for your pets to lounge against or set up frozen water bottles around their housing.
- Place a cooling mat or pop some cold tiles in the cage or hutch for your pets to lie on.
- Rabbits and guinea pigs can be more prone to flystrike in warm weather so make sure your pets are clean and dry (check for urine stains) and keep their bedding and housing impeccably clean.
All these little tricks should ensure your small furry pets do not succumb to the heat. Remember, our Christchurch Vets are here to help if you are concerned about your pet’s health.