Keeping Outdoor Rabbits Safe in Cold Weather

 

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Keeping outdoor rabbits safe in cold weather should still be top of mind with icy blasts possible over the coming weeks.  Rabbits could be adversely affected if they primarily lives outdoors and you haven’t taken steps to protect them from the harsh effects.

Here are some tips for keeping outdoor rabbits happy and safe during the colder months.

Hutch considerations

If you have a shed in your garden, think about whether this can be used to accommodate your rabbit’s hutch until the weather improves.

You can also move the hutch into the garage if this is not being used to store your car. Do not attempt this if your car does currently live in your garage as the fumes could be hazardous for your rabbit.

Your rabbit’s hutch needs to be watertight and waterproof to avoid leaking and damp issues.

Check for water marks inside the hutch and patch up any leaks with sealant. Waterproofing the sides of the hutch will stop damp and rot problems.

For the insides, make sure that the product is not harmful for pets. Damp can also be a problem if the floor of the hutch is in direct contact with the floor. If the hutch has no legs to lift it off the floor, you can use bricks to raise it instead.

Mesh doors can be covered with transparent Perspex to keep rain and snow out of the hutch without diminishing your rabbit’s ability to see outside. Don’t forget about ensuring adequate ventilation though.

In very cold weather, covering the hutch with a tarpaulin will help to retain heat. In the daytime, keep the front of the hutch uncovered for ventilation purposes. It is fine to cover more of the hutch during the night but you should still leave a small area open for ventilation.

Add extra bedding for your bunny to snuggle into. This can be lined underneath with newspaper for increased insulation.

Don’t forget that your rabbit’s hutch will still need a thorough clean during the winter – however unappealing that chore may be when it is cold!

Food and drink considerations

Your bunny will need to get more energy from his or her food during the winter to stay warm. This obviously means that you will need to increase food portions.

Keep an eye on your rabbit’s water bowls or bottles too. Water bottles can freeze but this can be limited to the spout, which will prevent your bunny from being able to access their water source if it becomes blocked. Plastic bottles can be prone to cracking and splintering in cold weather. This can be minimised by insulating them with towels.

Also, with less grass available in the winter make sure that plenty of hay is given to keep roughage intake up and help maintain normal digestion.

Other health and safety considerations 

During the winter, your bunny will be shedding their summer coat. Keep up a good grooming routine to ensure that his or her coat does not become matted, especially if it gets wet.

Rabbits can feel neglected at this time of year, not least because playtime becomes less appealing during cold weather. You can prevent this by bringing your pet inside to play so that the weather does not have an adverse effect on well being.

Remember that rabbits do not look to hibernate during the winter months. If your bunny starts to appear listless and fatigued, seek medical advice from your vet. Keep an eye out for respiratory problems that can affect rabbits in the winter. Symptoms can include discharge from the nose and eyes, and noisy, laboured breathing.

Don’t forget that animeddirect can supply food, flea and worm treatment, bedding, accessories and prescribed medicine (with a valid prescription) for your rabbit. Take a look to see how much you can save on your regular pet purchases.

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