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heat stroke

Diagnosing and treating rabbit ailments. *Caution! These threads may contain graphic content.*
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heat stroke

Post Number:#1  Unread postby SixGun » Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:11 pm


I have a number of Flemish mix growouts in holes. They are approx 12 weeks old. Today I was away from the house and the forecasted temperature and the actual temperature were grossly different. When I returned home at the warmest part of the day, one of the young does was showing extreme heat problems. She was breathing very rapidly but nothing else, I actually thought she had already passed. But, I saw that she was breathing and so my first thought was to get her cooler. I turned the hose on her belly ad then filled up the sink with cold water from the tap. I know they say ice water, but I was afraid that would be too much. I believe she did have one seizure as I was bringing her from outside to inside. Her temperature with the cold bath and then air dry inside in what we have that is considered air conditioning (swamp cooler) her body temp has come down, and she has regained consciousness, but she seems to be highly motor impaired. Think of how a dog looks as it is coming out of anesthesia, repetitive motions. It has been almost 3 hours since I found her. I understand she may never recover, but has anyone else had experience with this degree of heat stroke? Anything I have missed that I could still do? I dont know how to get her gastric system to get going again if she does recover enough to eat. I dont want her to suffer, so I want to know that there is some hope,

And yes, I know rabbits and water dont mix, and I didnt want to send her further into shock, but any other method of cooling her down I dont think would have worked fast enough.

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Re: heat stroke

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:28 pm


Sometimes I think the weather people just draw their forecasts out of a hat. :grit:

You did the right thing using water to cool her. Speed is important in a case of heat stroke.

Can you get some electrolytes into her? I'd think that might help. It may take a day or two before you can really tell if she will make a full recovery. She is probably feeling pretty sick still, even if no permanent damage was done.

Was this doe intended as a future breeder? If she was the only one affected and there was no obvious reason for why she was the only one, you might want to think twice about breeding her. It's possible that the weakness might be passed on to her offspring. I have no evidence for saying that, but it's something I'd be thinking about in your situation.
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Re: heat stroke

Post Number:#3  Unread postby SixGun » Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:46 am


I was thinking along those lines as well. If she's going to be heat sensitive, than this is just not stock I want to carry on. And so I do want to balance her well being, her health and her longevity here as a breeding rabbit. I had intended her to be part of the next generation, but I think that has been decided. Her mother nor sister littermate showed anything other than being warm, no distress, and definitely not this level of illness. I wonder if her reaction to the heat was because of another hidden cause, that yes, exactly, I dont want to pass on. Any sort of respiratory issue would theoretically make them less able to exchange air and heat as well as the average rabbit. And as I type this, I realize it would be unfair to put her in a pet situation even if she did recover, as she may have long lasting issues or a weakened system now caused by this incident.

She has not recovered enough to drink on her own, so maybe some subcutaneous fluids when I reassess her before I call it a night.


ETA: She passed on approx 7 hours after I found her.

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Re: heat stroke

Post Number:#4  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:31 am


I'm sorry you lost her, SixGun, but it's probably better that this happened now rather than after her genes had been passed on to the next generation.

It's significant, I think, that she was the only one so affected. To me it points to a hidden weakness. In the wild, such weaknesses would usually mean the animal never made it to breeding age. Nature is very efficient at culling the weak.
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Re: heat stroke

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Ferra » Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:58 am


Ugh. That's heart-breaking, SixGun.

I'm watching my herd closely - we're pushing 30c/86f here, and for me - that's just way too hot. I think my critters are doing okay, but certainly some seem happier than others. The industrial blower we mounted does make things a little more tolerable for the herd, it seems.

If you have the time for a little education, what symptoms were you seeing apart from rapid breathing? I'd hate to miss a red flag and lose a rabbit to what would basically be stupidity.
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Re: heat stroke

Post Number:#6  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri Jun 22, 2018 12:39 pm


Ferra, you may find this thread helpful:
photos-of-rabbits-in-heat-distress-t14903.html
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Re: heat stroke

Post Number:#7  Unread postby Ferra » Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:12 pm


Thank you, Maggie - I did find that helpful.

I do not have any rabbits in distress, thankfully. But I do seem to have a few that agree with me that 30c is too hot to do anything of significance. My spouse found the heat so annoying he sprung for a portable AC unit for the bedroom...
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Re: heat stroke

Post Number:#8  Unread postby SixGun » Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:59 pm


Ferra,
Yesterday was forecasted to be 35C (95F) but instead it hit 39C (102F) The rabbits here can do 37.5C (100F) without much intervention on my part, but that seems to be the breaking point. Today it is a tad warmer, maybe 39.5C (103F) and so every hour I'm changing out tiles for the short hairs and misting everyone. I've found that wetting down their floor wire seems to make a big difference. And although I can't convince some of the people I see at my demos, the Angora do so much better than my regular furred. I have a doe in full coat and she is definitely not in distress.

The other two does that are the same age, and one is a littermate, are warm, but not in distress. And yes, Maggie, better to know now than at 10 months of age. I have the worst luck with steels. She is the third doe I've produced and my husband sold one without making sure he was selling from the right pen... (Sigh), the second died while kindling, and now this one. the two deceased does are unrelated. I dont think I'll get silver fox any time soon. :)

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Re: heat stroke

Post Number:#9  Unread postby akane » Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:15 pm


I was 100F... It's now 67F out and I have my feet on a heating pad. Iowa weather. :lol: We pretty much have to prepare for every day to do anything and sometimes in the same day. The morning forecast doesn't mean a whole lot. The day it was over 100F it then hailed, rained, and here we are colder than the ac is ever set to.
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Re: heat stroke

Post Number:#10  Unread postby Ferra » Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:01 pm


SixGun wrote:Ferra,
Yesterday was forecasted to be 35C (95F) but instead it hit 39C (102F) The rabbits here can do 37.5C (100F) without much intervention on my part, but that seems to be the breaking point. Today it is a tad warmer, maybe 39.5C (103F) and so every hour I'm changing out tiles for the short hairs and misting everyone.


Well now I just feel paranoid, getting all worked up about the little guys reaching 86F... :lol: But it's better to know what to look for, I think, as some of the difference in airflow between our set ups might possibly mean that I'd get a heat-stressed rabbit at a lower temperature. And maybe someday, my stock will diverge genetically and lose some of that Arizona-bred heat tolerance!
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Re: heat stroke

Post Number:#11  Unread postby SixGun » Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:26 pm


There is definitely a progression they need. If it is 95 every day, they have no problems. If it goes up or down 5 degrees they can handle it, but more than that and I see signs of stress. I do get to implement a rigorous culling process now that I see what stresses lead to more than that down the road. But the doe mentioned above, she was out of left field. Then "save" kicks in and maybe I should have just culled her right then. Gosh I dont want to think she suffered.

When Bud rolled through last week and gave us our first rain in 6 months, it dropped twenty degrees and they looked miserable because it was cold. I find that rabbits are truly resilient, but I do have to be more careful with the regular haired breeds over the long haired. Next week it sounds like Monsoon is going to start, so then we'll get rain almost every afternoon. This will be my first year with this new set up (Ferra I have everyone in the 4 stacks like you saw, but now in groups in the yard.) and we'll see if I can use the rain to my benefit without it getting anyone soaked.

But I do have one rabbit with a peculiar habit, I'll see if I can get video. She would be Doc's sister Ferra. You'll find this amusing if I can figure out how to share it with you all.

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Re: heat stroke

Post Number:#12  Unread postby Ferra » Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:07 pm


SixGun wrote: But I do have one rabbit with a peculiar habit, I'll see if I can get video. She would be Doc's sister Ferra. You'll find this amusing if I can figure out how to share it with you all.


I have seen this video! It was fantastic. :D

I have a 4wk old opal kit who developed the odd habit of licking me. Tyler calls this action "mlem", and therefore on my first night back from Fibre Week at Olds, I was mlemmed nearly to death. Crazy little rabbits with their crazy little habits. :lol:
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Re: heat stroke

Post Number:#13  Unread postby akane » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:50 pm


I find rabbits and other animals respond quite different to temps here. We change so much and so rapidly both up and down and nearly always well over 5F cooler nights that you don't need heat tolerant and cold tolerant as much as temp change tolerant lines. It was 59F this morning and stopped at 82F with likely a drop to about 60F tonight. The next few days are 83/63 (morning/night), 88/65, and 90/71. That's fairly stable here except you should never count on that 88F day not going to 95F suddenly. All summer it goes up, rains, drops about 40F or more, goes up, rains..... It's completely unavoidable all year long. Most of the animals are bouncy, happy, active (annoying if stuck indoors with you) when a huge temp drop happens after a period of heat rather than miserable. The most losses or illness are when we keep a high heat index for 5+ days than up and down. The year we got stuck in a heat bubble caused many deaths from constant temps around 100F and no break.

Spring and fall temp changes do sometimes bring more illness in both small and large animals because it bounces below and above freezing repeatedly and spikes of temp in winter have been causing cattle deaths in various parts of the US due to them having their winter coats and feed being switched for more heat production only to end up with random warm days. We went to 80F in Feb I think the previous year causing some issues for my heat sensitive indoor animals with the house still set to the furnace. This last year there was snow on the ground until about April only to go to 80F a few days later.
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