The importance of heat avoidance

October heat has hit Melbourne over the last week, and we have already heard lots of stories of toasty buns (and piggies).  As the weather warms up we just want to remind everyone that our little furry friends are not as good at dealing with the heat as we are.  While we can strip down to our undies and eat an ice cream to cool off our bunnies and guinea pigs are not so lucky.  Not only are they stuck in their thick fur coats but they are unable to sweat or pant and can only really lose heat through their ears.  As such they are very vulnerable to heat stress, which can be dangerous and life-threatening.

shower bedMelbourne Rabbit Clinic strongly recommends keeping both rabbits and guinea pigs inside if the mercury is set to get over 27 degrees (ideally any weather over the mid-twenties is indoor weather for our patients).  Shade outside is often not enough, as even shady pens can heat up quickly (particularly metal or insulated hutches, please avoid leaving your friends outside in these in hot weather!).  If you don’t have an indoor play area a bathroom (or shower cubicle) is often the next best thing, as there are generally few things to chew and tiles make for a nice, cool and easily cleaned environment.  Putting a few towels down for grip is ideal to stop bunnies and guinea pigs slipping around.

Wherever your pet is housed please make sure they have plenty of water.  Ice packs in hutches, ice blocks or ceramic tiles (pre-cooled by placing in the freezer overnight) in water bottles and fans can also be helpful in keeping your friend cool (make sure everything is chew-proof!).  It is also best to have long haired bunnies and piggies clipped off for summer – please contact us about grooming for more information.  If your pet is particularly warm you can wet their ears and then put them next to a fan or air conditioner to cool them down quickly.  Remember that bunnies don’t respond well to being washed, as their thick coat absorbs water and this can result in them going into shock or developing secondary skin infections.  Please avoid bathing your hot bunnies!

heat stress bunnySigns of heat stroke include:

  • collapse
  • inappetance (not eating)
  • not pooing
  • quiet, dull behaviour
  • increased respiration (particularly if flaring nostrils or elevating the head)

If you see any of these signs contact a vet as soon as possible!

Not only is summer on its way, but so are the end of year holidays!  We’re currently collecting entries for our Holiday Hamper Raffle, and we have three hampers full of fun toys and tasty treats to give away come the end of the year.  All bunnies and guinea pigs coming in for a consult at MRC in the next few months are eligible to a free entry to the draw.

A reminder that October is still Dental Month (see previous news for further details).  Any MRC patient who has been seen by a vet in the last 12 months is still eligible for a free dental health check with one of our lovely nurses.  Call the clinic to organise a convenient time today!

Finally, speaking of our lovely nurses, October 9 is Vet Nurse Day this year!  Sharn, Hollie and Karen are our fantastic nurses and we would like to remind them that they are extremely appreciated and important here at MRC.  Feel free to remind them that they are cool when you next see them!