Rabbit Diseases - Heat Stroke

 
Heat Stroke in rabbits
  • Rabbits are highly susceptible to air temperatures especially when the mercury rises.
  • Heatstroke is a rise in the body temperature that is accompanied by physical and neurological symptoms.
  • Heat stress and heat exhaustion can cause physical symptoms but are less severe than heatstroke.
  • During times of high heat, the body is unable to dissipate heat that the body creates thus raising the body temperature.
  • The ideal temperature to house a rabbit in is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit with little to no humidity.
  • Temperature-related respiratory problems can begin to occur when temperatures reach the mid-70s and 80s, especially in humid climates. Heat stroke becomes a real risk when the temperature climbs into the high 80s or above.
  • As domestic rabbits are completely covered from head to toe in a thick fur coat and there is no way for the rabbit to perspire. There are virtually no means of which the rabbit can cool his body temperature.
  • Heatstroke is considered a medical emergency and without treatment, can lead to the death of a rabbit.


    • Warning Signs:
    • Reddening of the ears
    • Panting
    • Lethargy
    • Salivating
    • Lack of appetite
    • Dehydration
    • Unresponsiveness
    • Weakness/Slow movement
    • Acting Confused
    • Seizures
    • Convulsions

      Heat Stroke in rabbit Treatment
    • If a rabbit's body temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit, it is recommended to seek emergency veterinarian care immediately.
    • When a rabbit's body temperature becomes too high, the prognosis for a full recovery is usually poor.
    • Before reaching a veterinarian we can do following measures to cool down the body temperature:
      • Move the rabbit to a cooler place away from the sun. The basement is a good choice.
      • Mist the pink (red) sides of the ears with cool water.
      • As an alternative, cool the ears with an ice cube that's been wrapped in a thin cloth.
      • Bathe the rabbit in room temperature, not cold, water only up to the neck. Do not submerge it.
      • A wet towel can be placed on the rabbit to help wet the coat or the water can be slowly dripped on the body. Gently rub the water into the fur so that the water reaches the skin.
      • Remember to cool the body temperature down slowly to prevent the rabbit from going into shock.
      • Feed wet vegetables, if the bunny will eat, and supply cold water.
      • Blow a fan near the rabbit, but not directly on it.
      • Call your veterinarian immediately. He will probably need to provide your bunny with intravenous fluids and electrolytes to help him recover.

      Prevention
    • There are many preventative measures that can be taken that will help a rabbit from becoming overheated.
    • Outdoor rabbits should be housed in a shaded area and should never be left without plenty of fresh water.
    • A working air conditioner set below 80 degrees keeps the area cool and your bunny comfortable while he is living indoors.
    • Tile or pieces of marble are suitable materials for placing inside the cage for the rabbit to lay on. Some rabbit owners even freeze the tile or marble before placing them in the cage.
    • Open windows that provide a breeze. A fan can also be used, but do not have it blow directly onto your bun.
    • Grooming your rabbit more often in the summer months helps remove access hair that can heat the body.
    • Freeze some water bottles and leave them out for your bun. They enjoy laying in the cooled air around these bottles and may even lick some condensation off the sides.
    • Provide plenty of cool fresh water for your buns. You can add an ice cube or two and watch bunny happily lick at them.
    • Give them a spray. Rabbits use their ears to regulate temperature, so by spraying some water mist on their ears you can help cool them down.
    • A cool damp towel draped over an area where they hang out, their cage perhaps. Make sure it is not dripping right on your rabbit.
    • Give your bunny vegetables to help keep them hydrated. You can leave a little water on them after you rinse them off to add to their water intake.
    • With care and prevention your rabbit and you will enjoy many years of happy, comfortable summers.