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Heatstroke in rabbits – Symptoms and treatment

Rabbits do not cope well in hot weather as they cannot sweat and therefore cannot cool themselves down. If they are exposed to hot temperatures they can suffer from heatstroke (also know as heat exhaustion) and this can happen very quickly and can be extremely dangerous for rabbits. Please take extra care to keep your rabbit cool on hot sunny days and be extra vigilant.

Best4bunny-heatstroke-in-rabbits

Here are the symptoms to look out for…

Reddening of the ears

Lethargic

Drooling

Mouth a different shape (like it is pulled back a bit at the sides)

Panting

Shaking

Acts confused

Weakness

If you suspect your rabbit is suffering from heatstroke you need to take action immediately, even if you think it is just mild signs, take action as they can very quickly change to major signs.

Treatment

Use a water spray bottle on the mist setting and gently spray at a height over your rabbit.

Wet a cotton napkin or kitchen tissue with cold water, squeeze out any excess water and place this over their ears & head or gently wipe it over their ears.

Get them into a cool area and lay them on either a cold ceramic tile or a damp towel.

Never place your rabbit directly into cold water. This can cause them to go into shock and this can be fatal.

Call your rabbit savvy vet asap.

Make sure that every action is taken to keep them cool on the way to the vets as the stress of they journey will add to their high temperature.

Place a damp cool towel in the pet carrier rather than hay & keep your car cool.

Ideally have someone else with you that can keep an eye on your rabbit and mist their ears or wipe a damp tissue over their ears to keep them cool on the way to the vets.


If your rabbit is so lethargic that they are laying down all the time then make sure they are laying comfortably and their airway is clear before starting the journey to the vets.

For tips on how to keep rabbits cool and to prevent heatstroke from happening please read How to keep rabbits cool in summer – top tips