ISSN 2398-2969      

Heat stroke

Clapis

Introduction

  • Rabbits are very susceptible to heat stress. 
  • They are unable to sweat, do not pant, and heat loss is mainly via radiation from the skin of the ears. The ears contain numerous large arteriovenous shunts. 
  • In the wild, rabbits avoid very hot ambient temperatures by spending time below ground in burrows and emerging at cooler times of day (dawn and dusk). 
  • In man heat stroke is variably defined as core body temperature >40.6-41.1°C (106°F) associated with neurologic dysfunction. 
  • Rabbits affected with heat stroke typically have a body temperature of 40.5°C or above.

Types of heat stroke

  • Exertional heat stroke:
    • Associated with strenuous physical activity for a prolonged period of time in a hot environment.
    • This is rare in the rabbit. 
  • Classical or non-exertional heat stroke:
    • More commonly encountered in rabbits and occurs in conditions of high ambient temperature where the rabbit cannot use behavioral means to avoid the heat. 
    • This can also happen in situations where the outside temperature is not particularly high, but conditions cause local overheating, such as in a greenhouse or car.
    • Predisposing factors include high humidity (>70%), heavily pregnant does, obese and/or older individuals, previous heat stroke episode, underlying disease, thick hair coat, psychological stress and anxiety, and overcrowding.

Print-off the Owner factsheets on Hyperthermia - overheatingKeeping rabbits safe outside and Summer safety  to give to your clients.

Pathophysiology

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Clinical signs

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prognosis

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Shen K H, Chang C K, Lin M T et al (2008) Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist restores homeostatic function and limits multiorgan damage in heatstroke. European J Appl Physiol 103 (5), 561-568 PubMed.
  • Tsai H M, Gao C J, Li W X et al (2005) Resuscitation from experimental heatstroke by hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Crit Care Med 33 (4), 813-818 PubMed.
  • Yeo T P (2004) Heat stroke: a comprehensive review. AACN Clin Issues 15 (2), 280-293 PubMed.
  • Abdelatif A M & Modawi S M (2003) Effect of hyperthermia on blood constituents in the domestic rabbit (Lepus cuniculus). J Therm Biol 19 (6), 357-363 VetMedResource.
  • Lin M T & Lin S Z (1992) Cerebral ischaemia is the main cause for the onset of heat stroke syndrome in rabbits. Experientia 48 (3), 225-227 PubMed.

Other sources of information

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