It’s been so hot recently, but our pets usually don’t cope well with the heat. Here are some tips to keep them cooler during the warm weather.

How to keep rabbits cool

  • Freeze drinks bottles to place in the hutch or run. Your rabbits can lay against them to cool down.
  • Invest in an ice pod. These are well worth the money in my opinion, as your rabbits can lay on top of them and the hard plastic means they cannot be nibbled.
  • Make sure they have shade. Move the hutch to a shady part of the garden, and add parasols to keep them sheltered. In the run, cover the top with a towel to keep them cool. You can dampen towels/sheets and hang them on the front of the hutch and run with pegs. This will create shade and a cool breeze when the wind blows.
  • Remove hutch huggers and tarpaulins you may use to keep the rain and cold out, as this will increase the heat within.
  • DON’T feed rabbits ice cubes or frozen treats as it can be a shock to their system and send them into gut stasis.
  • Give them water bottles and bowls. When it’s really hot, it can be an effort to use a bottle, so providing a bowl means it’s easier for your bunny to drink.
  • Give them a good brush to remove dead hair as this will help them lose heat.
  • Place ceramic tiles in the hutch or run as they allow a cool surface for your rabbits to lay on.
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Ensure rabbits have shade in the sun

Signs of heatstroke in rabbits

  • Lethargy
  • Red ears
  • Salivating
  • Panting
  • Weakness

If your rabbit is showing these symptoms, mist their ears with cool water and call your vet immediately.

How to keep dogs cool

  • Only walk your dog in the early morning or late in the evening when it’s not as hot. Remember that tarmac will burn their paws, so place the back of your hand on the tarmac before you take them out to ensure it’s not too hot. If you can’t hold the back of your hand down comfortably for 5 seconds or more, it is too hot for your dog and will burn their pads. When you take them out, be sure to bring water with you incase they need a drink.
  • Put fans/air con on for them.
  • Get them a cooling mat. This mat gets cooler when pressure is applied, and offers a nice surface for them to lie on.
  • Offer ice cubes and frozen treats.
  • Make sure they have water available at all times.
  • Dogs lose heat through their feet, so dampening their paws or allowing them to stand in cool water can bring their temperature down.
  • Don’t leave them unattended in a vehicle, as temperatures inside can reach a deadly level very quickly. Leaving a window open will not be enough on a hot day.
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Princess enjoying her cooling mat

Signs of heatstroke in dogs

Overweight, elderly and short-nosed dogs, such as Pugs, French Bulldogs and Boxers are more likely to get heatstroke, but it can affect any dog. Signs are;

  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Bright red tongue
  • Red/pale gums
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Shock
  • Collapse

If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, move them to a cool place, wet their coat with cool water and contact your vet immediately.

How to keep cats cool

  • Make sure they have water available at all times.
  • Open windows and doors to allow air to flow around them, or use a fan.
  • Elevate their beds, as air passing underneath the bed, will help to cool them.
  • Give them a good groom to remove dead hair.
  • If you are out of the house, leave a few ice cubes in a bowl to give them access to cool water throughout the day.
  • Some cats will tolerate being stroked with a damp towel.
  • Create cool retreats for them to go to when they feel too hot. Place a box on its side in a cool room, line it with a towel and put an ice pack inside.

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Signs of heatstroke in cats

  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Collapse
  • Unconsciousness

If you suspect your cat is suffering from heatstroke, move them to a cool place and dampen their coat. You must then call your vet immediately.

How to keep small animals cool

  • Attach a thermometer to the cage to keep an eye on how warm the environment is.
  • Move their cage to a cooler area of the house, or to a room with more air flow.
  • Provide ice packs or ice pods in the cage.
  • Give them hammocks to allow air to flow round them as they sleep.
  • Many rats enjoy ‘pea fishing’ on hot days, which is when you put peas in a shallow bowl of water and they fish them out.
  • Provide water bottles and bowls.
  • Wet vegetables before you feed them as this will supplement their water intake.
  • Groom them and consider trimming long hair.
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Providing hammocks increases air flow as your pet rests

Signs of heatstroke in small animals

  • Lethargy
  • Rapid breathing
  • Drooling
  • Red ears

If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, move them to a cool area and contact your vet right away.

Please share this article, as heatstroke can be deadly.