Rabbits are wonderful and loving pets, but they do require a fair amount of care. If you are looking for a pet that just sits in a cage and keeps to itself, a rabbit is not a good choice. They have very specific dietary, exercise and grooming needs. In all seasons, but especially in extreme hot summer weather, there are strict guidelines you should follow to ensure that your pet healthy, hydrated and comfortable.
As with any pet in the summer, rabbits can over-heat and become seriously ill if left unprotected in hot weather. If you have an outdoor rabbit that lives in a hutch, you must make sure that it is kept in the shade. In the event of a series of extremely hot days, it may necessary to bring your rabbit inside for a break from the heat. You could keep a smaller cage in the house, or just let the rabbit roam free for a bit. Rabbits are very intelligent and can easily be litter-box trained. When allowing your bunny to hop around the house, be sure to keep a close eye on it. Rabbits will chew on power cords, and just about anything else accessible. Dogs and cats should be kept at bay until they are used to the bunny and can play nice (my pet rabbit happened to get along very well with my dogs).
A rabbits’ diet remains consistent throughout the year. To keep your rabbit at its’ healthiest, its diet should be 75% grass-hay. You should never limit the supply of grass-hay you feed your rabbit, make it available to the bunny at all times. Alfalfa-hay should be given as a treat in moderation (except for babies and pregnant or nursing females).
Another thing you should never let your rabbit run out of is water. Especially in the summer, you should keep a large water bottle full; I recommend a 32 oz. bottle. Nutrient-rich food pellets are also an important staple in a rabbit’s diet. In addition to the hay and pellets, you should give your bunny plenty of fresh greens and healthy treats. Good choices are spinach, dark leaf lettuce, carrots with tops, and even tomatoes. Fresh herbs are also a great special treat for bunnies, they enjoy, parsley, cilantro, basil, tarragon, and most others that you like too. Even if you buy organic, always thoroughly rinse all fresh veggies and herbs before feeding. After rinsing, do not dry, rabbits can get a lot of the water they need from wet vegetables.
Brushing your rabbit will help to keep the excessive fur off, and in turn, will help to keep it cool in the summertime. Brushing also feels good to the bunny, and allows you to bond with it.
Rabbits need exercise just like most critters. Aside from letting your bunny run around in the house, you can also give it a good workout outside. If you don’t have a securely fenced yard, use a harness and/or leash to walk your bunny around. You should really try to give your rabbit an hour a day of exercise outside of its cage. My pet rabbit did very well on a leash and loved to nibble on fresh grass. You can find a large selection of leashes online, and most pet supply stores will carry a couple of choices.
If you can follow these suggestions, your pet bunny should have no problem making it through even the hottest of summer days. If you suspect dehydration or any other health problem, do not hesitate to take your rabbit to the vet. With proper care your rabbit can have a happy 8-10 year life.