Before I launch into this (what I consider) very important post, can we just take a minute to appreciate how cute this little floofer is?! His name is Ted. He's an almost 4 year old male cross-breed bunny. And he's the calmest, friendliest lil bun that I've ever cuddled.
I always get worried about him and our other small furries in the warm weather, and the heatwave we had a few weeks ago had me in overdrive making sure he was always okay. If it's hot enough for us to pass out or get ill in, then it's definitely hot enough for your pets to suffer too. So, here are some things you can do to help keep them safe and healthy in the summer sun:
1.) Make sure at least one part of their hutch is always shaded. Most hutches have a 'bedroom' area with an opaque door, but if yours doesn't, then make sure the hutch is positioned so that your bunny can get out of direct sunlight if he or she needs to.
2.) Ensure that their water is always topped up. This seems obvious, but it's important to keep an eye on it. Ted prefers to drink out of bowls rather than bottles, so we fill one up in the morning and top it up in the evening so he doesn't end up thirsty overnight.
3.) Protect them against fly strike. This is really important, and my family had a bunny that actually passed away due to this before we had Ted. Fly strike is more likely to happen in summer as there are more flies about. The flies are most likely to be attracted to your rabbit's anus due to its warmth and wetness. Once there, they will lay eggs in and around the anus, maggots will hatch and they actually eat into your bunny's flesh. We've got a fly strike spray that we use once a week all over Ted's fur. It repels the insects, and can be used as a treatment once fly strike has set in. Obviously if you notice that it has take your bunny to the vets straightaway. Ensuring that their hutch is disinfected weekly and soiled bedding (which attracts flies) is removed regularly helps a lot too.
4.) Brush their fur daily whilst they molt. Ted is actually still getting his summer coat in at the moment. Brushing their fur means that they won't end up with matted fur, and will help them stay cooler, as you brush out their loosened winter coat.
5.) Place a frozen water bottle in their hutch. They can lie against it if they need that little something extra to cool down. I usually place one in a bit of hay so that it doesn't sit directly against Ted's fur. He seems to really enjoy lying against it during the heat of midday. We take it out again in the evening, pop it back in the freezer, and bring it to his hutch again in the morning.
Do you have any small pets? How do you keep them cool?