Small animals are just as likely to suffer from heat-related problems as dogs and cats. Because their natural environment is outdoors, it can be easy to forget that they react just the same as other furry animals to long periods in the sun.

Rabbits cannot sweat like humans, nor pant like dogs – the majority of their ability to cool down comes from their ears. Guinea pigs aren’t even able to do this, which makes them particularly susceptible to problems of overheating – just like hamsters, mice and gerbils! Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to help them stay cool during the summer months.


Move their hutch/cage to an area with more shade


Sitting in the sun for long periods will increase the chances of your smaller animal overheating. Wooden hutches and plastic cages can both trap heat, which means your animal may struggle to find a cool place to rest away from the heat. Even if your pet lives indoors, there can still be a risk of overheating if their cage is in direct sunlight.


By moving their hutch or cage to an area out of the sun, your small animal’s home will be significantly cooler.


Classic Colour Water Bottle, Large

Give them plenty of water


Hydration is essential for keeping small animals healthy and maintaining a cool body temperature. Whilst they can’t perspire like humans, drinking cool water helps them maintain a steady body temperature and also ensures that their internal processes all work properly.


Create shade


If you do not have shade readily available, then you may have to find a way to create some. Whilst most hutches will have shaded compartments in which they can sleep, rabbit runs can pose a unique set of problems when it comes to finding shade. Whilst a hutch may be easily moved to a shaded area, an outdoor grassy run may prove a more difficult challenge.


Owners may consider draping a towel over the corner of a run to help create a shaded area for smaller animals – so that they can still stay cool even whilst playing in the grass.


Trixie Small Animal Cool Plate

Try a small-animal safe cooling mat or tile


Give them the option of somewhere cool to lay by placing a cooling tile into their hutch or run. Just make sure that you do not place the tile in direct sunlight, otherwise these will not be effective.


Soak fruit and vegetables in cool water before feeding


Another great way to ensure they are getting enough hydration is to soak fresh fruit and vegetables in cold or icy water for a minute or so before giving them to your pet. Once more these are a fun way to cool your pet down in the sun.


Don’t leave them in exercise balls for long periods of time


Plastic exercise balls can heat up quickly – think of them like tiny greenhouses. For this reason you should be especially weary of leaving them to roam for too long. Always monitor them, and where possible ensure they are roaming in cooler, shaded spaces.