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How to care for small pets in the hot weather

During the sizzling summer months, it’s important to think about our small pets. Rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens can really struggle in hot weather, so we’ve put together a few tips on how to keep them cool and safe.

Creating a cool environment for your rabbits, guinea pigs and hens will help them feel comfortable and happy. You will also be helping to protect them from heat-related illnesses including heatstroke.

Rabbits and guinea pigs

  • If you can, it’s worth moving outdoor enclosures including hutches and runs to a shaded part of your garden.
  • Create as much extra shade as you can throughout the day. You could put up a garden parasol over their outdoor enclosure, a gazebo or a white sheet.
  • Don’t forget the sun will move throughout the day so keep an eye on them to make sure they’re not exposed.
  • Make sure their enclosure has plenty of airflow to provide a nice breeze.
  • If your rabbits or guinea pigs are housed in a converted shed, large hutch or indoor room and it’s safe to do so, it might be worth putting on a fan. Just make sure any wires are tucked away or covered using cable pipe protectors so they can’t nibble through them.
  • Replenishing your hutches with fresh, fluffy piles of hay will allow your rabbits and guinea pigs to burrow inside to keep cool. It’s also worth covering tunnels so they don’t get too hot.
  • Keep them hydrated throughout the day with shallow bowls of fresh water and forage for them to munch.
  • Place bottles of frozen water or cold, damp tea towels around your enclosure. They will enjoy lying beside them for some much-needed relief.

For rabbits

  • Fill a couple of large trays with soil, rabbits love to have a dig, stretch out and cool off in soil. You could provide large card boxes with dig trays inside to act as a shaded burrow.
  • Summer weather brings an increase in flies! Try and keep them away by regularly cleaning out your rabbits’ enclosure. Removing poo will prevent flystrike.
  • For long-haired rabbit breeds, keep their fur clipped short and move them inside to a cool room during the hottest parts of the day.

Guinea pigs

  • Avoid using plastic igloo style hiding spaces as these can get very hot and will trap the heat. Instead, use large open-ended hiding spaces like wooden bendy bridges, or houses that have multiple entrances which will allow the hot air to move through.
  • Place a ceramic tile or two in their enclosure – it will remain cool in the heat and will give your guinea pigs the option of laying on or near it if they want to.

Chickens

  • Provide shade over your chicken’s enclosure, you could put a large gazebo or parasol.
  • Large chickens, fluffy breeds and ex-caged hens can really suffer in extreme heat, so make sure you keep a close eye on them and offer as much protection as possible.
  • If you can, it might be worth moving your chicken’s coop and run to a cooler part of the garden.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of shallow water trays and bowls around their enclosure.
  • Chickens like dust bathing to keep themselves cool, make sure they have plenty of room in shaded areas to do this.
  • You can create more shade by placing plant pots and shrubs around their coop and run to create breeze and offer shade.
  • Pick up poo as often as you can to keep those flies at bay.
  • Let them out of there coop as early as possible when it’s cool, this will prevent them from overheating.

We hope these tips will help keep your furry and feathered friends cool and happy! For any other advice, visit our website or give us a call, we’re here for both pets and their people.

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