Because of their large surface area to volume ratio, small pets are especially susceptible to extreme changes in temperature- meaning they can become too hot or cold very easily. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your small furries! But now that British summertime is finally upon us, it’s more important than ever to make sure your small pets are cool and comfortable in the sunny weather.
So, whether you’re looking for advice on guinea pig summer care, or simply searching for ways to help to cool your rabbit in hot weather- you’ve come to the right place!
Keeping pets cool in hot weather
There are lots of different things you can do to keep pets cool in summer and help to prevent them from overheating. Here are four important steps to help keep your fluffball cool and comfortable:
- Access to shade. One of the most important ways to make sure your small pet doesn’t overheat during sunny weather is to ensure that they always have access to plenty of shade. For bunnies and guinea pigs this means having a largely shaded space that’s outside of their enclosed bedding area in their hutch or run. It’s really important that this area is well ventilated as this will allow your pet to keep cool, while still being protected from the sun’s rays (and you can do this by having an area lined with mesh to allow for airflow).
Hutch protectors are also a great way to provide a shady spot for your bunny- but do bear in mind that they can sometimes block airflow, so always make sure that the protector isn’t blocking ventilation of your rabbit’s hutch or run, especially during hot weather.
And for small pets such as chinchillas, degus, gerbils and hamster, it’s important that their enclosure is in the shade away from direct sunlight- especially sun that’s shining through the windows as this can intensify the rays.
- Plenty of water. Small pets should always have access to plenty of water, whatever the weather, so they’re able to stay well hydrated. It’s best to replenish the water at least once daily to help prevent the water from becoming warm in the heat.
- Fans and frozen water bottles. You can also give your small pet access to a fan- although make sure you always give them the option to move away from the fan if they get too cold! Not all pets like the noise and airflow, so don’t place the fan too close and turn it off if they’re looking stressed. You could also provide a frozen water bottle wrapped in a cloth so that your pet is able to lay up against it in order to stay cool.
- Regular grooming. If you have a bunny, guinea pig or hamster with long fur, it’s important that you keep on top of grooming to remove any excess fur- as this can also help to stop them from getting too hot and will also keep their coat in good condition, preventing hair mats from building up
Remember to check your small pet over on a regular basis, whether they need grooming or not, as this enables you to identify potential health problems that you may otherwise have missed. In rabbits, regular check overs are especially important, particularly around their bottom, as if they’re having trouble cleaning this area it can quickly become very sore and dirty making them more prone to a very serious condition called flystrike.
Heatstroke in small pets
Heatstroke is a condition where an animal’s body overheats and can impact their body in a variety of ways. This problem is especially dangerous in small pets, so if you think your small pet may be suffering with heatstroke you must contact a vet immediately.
Signs of heatstroke include:
- Excessive panting
- Lethargy or not wanting to move
- Becoming unconscious or seizing