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The Dangers of Flystrike

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Welcome to the second part of our summer pet care guide. This week we’ll be talking about a dangerous condition most common in the warm weather that affects many pet rabbits – Flystrike.

What is Flystrike?

Flies, most commonly the Green Bottle fly, are attracted to damp or dirty fur and will lay their eggs there. These eggs hatch into maggots which burrow into the affected rabbit’s flesh. Put simply: they eat them alive. This condition is known as Myiasis, or Flystrike.

Understandably, this is a painful, traumatic and potentially fatal condition for pets. Rabbits can potentially go into shock and die very quickly – or they can suffer in silence if their condition goes undetected.

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What if I think my pet has Flystrike?

When you check your rabbit over, look out for any signs of movement in their fur, as well as actual maggots (they look like tiny white worms).

This is a genuine emergency and you should take your pet to the vets immediately. You should not attempt to treat your rabbit yourself at home.

They will require immediate care to save their life. Typically, care will involve surgery to remove the maggots, as well as pain relief, antibiotics and hospital admission.

Unfortunately, detection may come too late to save some rabbits, meaning euthanasia is the only option.

Is my pet susceptible to Flystrike?

Certain conditions make your pet more likely to be affected by Flystrike.

  • Overweight
  • Long hair
  • Prone to a dirty bottom
  • Has an open cut or wound
  • Have dental issues or are old, meaning they are less able to clean themselves

We cannot eliminate flies from the environment, but we can make sure that our rabbit is at least risk of suffering from Flystrike. The responsibility for keeping your rabbit clean and healthy may fall to you if they struggle to keep clean. If you are experiencing real issues keeping them clean and dry then it may be worthwhile keeping the fur on their bottom very short and cropped.

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Avoiding Flystrike:

The good news is that, whilst Flystrike may be dangerous, it is entirely preventable.

  • Check your pet over at least once a day
  • Change their bedding frequently
  • Feed them a correct, balanced diet to avoid them getting diarrhoea
  • Never leave them with a damp bottom
  • Use a specially formulated product on your rabbit to help prevent Flystrike – please speak to your vet about a suitable product

Although it’s most often rabbits who are affected by Flystrike, other animals can suffer with it too, including cats, dogs and horses!  Be particularly watchful if your pet has long fur or if they are prone to getting into fights, as un-noticed puncture wounds from teeth could easily become infected.

If you have any concerns about your rabbit (or other pet!) please call your local Medivet practice by using our online practice finder.


Posted July 25, 2014 in Seasonal Care

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