While many of us can’t wait to bask in the summer weather and spend more time in our gardens, it can be easy to forget that our small furry friends can be sensitive to the sunshine.
PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, said: Overheating is dangerous for both rabbits and guinea pigs so it’s important that you can recognise the symptoms, as heat stroke in any animal can be fatal.
Signs to look out for in rabbits and guinea pigs include drooling, taking short and quick breaths, confusion, lack of energy, unconsciousness or seizures.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things we can do to keep our precious furry friends out of harm’s way as temperatures climb.
For small pets that live outside, it’s vitally important to keep their enclosures out of direct sunlight.
If your garden doesn’t provide much shade, you can make your own by draping a tarpaulin or towel over part of their run – just make sure there’s a nice through-draught of cool air so it doesn’t get too hot inside.
Trees, parasols, and sun umbrellas also make perfect shades.
Remember to keep an eye on the direction of the sun, as you may need to move things around throughout the day so the shade doesn’t disappear.
Plenty of water
It may sound obvious, but it’s essential that you provide your furry friends with plenty of water during hot weather.
Having regular access to fresh, clean, cool water will avoid dehydration, and help to keep your rabbits and guinea pigs healthy over the summer months.
Creating a cool room
On very hot days, it can be helpful to have a safe space indoors where your rabbits and guinea pigs can take a break from the blazing sunshine.
Choose a space in a part of the house that doesn’t get much direct sunlight and draw the curtains or blinds – opening the windows can help create a nice breeze, too.
Avoid pointing a fan directly at your rabbit or guinea pig, and make sure they have plenty of room to move away from any breezes if they want to.
It’s also important to ensure they can’t get out of any windows and that any wires in the vicinity are kept well away from nibbling teeth!
Frozen ice packs
Another simple way to help your small pets cool off is to fill a bottle with water and freeze it overnight.
Wrap it in a towel or sock and place it next to their home to give them something nice and cold to lie against throughout the day.
Just make sure it’s wrapped securely before placing it near your pets, as the frozen bottle can cause injuries if it comes into direct contact with the skin.”