No one likes to think about their pets getting sick. Especially if it’s something which causes pain or puts their pet’s life in danger. Fortunately, it’s not that common for otherwise healthy pets to suffer from life threatening illnesses and injury. But there is one type of pet which is at high risk from a disease which can quickly cause a great deal of pain, and prove fatal. As part of Rabbit and Guinea pig month, we want to raise awareness of a dangerous and often fatal condition called “Flystrike”.
Rabbits are susceptible to unwanted attention from flies, especially in warmer weather.
Flies are attracted to moisture, warmth and odour and lay eggs on a rabbit’s bottom before those eggs turn into maggots. It’s a pretty disgusting topic, but’s so important to understand the risks of Flystrike that we just can’t shy away from it.
Flystrike is a true emergency – day or night. Eggs laid on a rabbit’s skin develop into maggots within hours. These maggots literally eat away at the flesh and release dangerous toxins. Once flies have struck you need to act quickly to keep your rabbit alive.
The good news is that flystrike can be prevented. It is more likely to afflict ageing, immobile or overweight rabbits who find it more difficult to groom themselves, but can occur in healthy rabbits of any age. The two key rules for avoiding flystrike are to “keep it clean” and “keep it dry”. Whilst it’s almost impossible to eradicate flies from the environment, they won’t be so attracted to rabbits which are clean and dry. On the other hand, rabbits with urine soaked bedding or rabbits with dropping stuck to their bottoms will be targets for flies.
Rabbits should be checked at least twice a day for signs of droppings stuck to their fur or fly eggs which have been laid; bedding should be changed at least once a day; and hutches should be disinfected at least once a week. Regular hair trimming and cleaning around the bottom is also an important aspect of rabbit care, but make sure to dry the fur carefully afterwards. If you suspect flystrike then you should contact us immediately.
If you would like advice or guidance about how best to protect your rabbit from flystrike then book a free check during June as part of Rabbit and Guinea pig month.