Flystrike (aka Myiasis) is a condition which can affect any animal. It is incredibly distressing and if not caught early enough it can progress rapidly and lead to death. Rabbits are predominantly affected, especially if they have a pre-existing illness which limits their ability to clean themselves, primarily over their rear-end. As owners we need to be particularly vigilant through the summer months.
The condition occurs when flies lay their eggs on a site which is traumatised. These eggs then hatch into larvae and develop into maggots. Maggots are attracted to warm, damp environments and open wounds. After a very short period of time the maggots begin to feed on the flesh of our much loved pets.
During the summer months we would advise you to check your rabbits every 12 hours for any signs of eggs or larvae, as well as any accumulation of faeces, or open sores. If any maggots or eggs are seen please phone the vets immediately. Without proper examination this condition can rapidly progress, and be life-threatening.
Prevention is far easier than cure. The easiest way to prevent flystrike at home is to make sure that any faecal matter that has accumulated is quickly cleaned. Flies are attracted to the smell of urine and faeces.
Certain conditions can increase the chances of flystrike occurring in your rabbit;
Firstly, overweight rabbits. They find it much harder to clean their bottoms, so if your vet has advised weight loss this is particularly important during the summer.
Secondly, older arthritic rabbits. They struggle to clean themselves as it is painful or uncomfortable to reach those areas. In these circumstances we have to be extra vigilant, and ensure your pet has those twice daily checks.
There are other conditions which can heighten the likelihood of flystrike. Diarrhoea, and dental disease both increase the amount of faecal matter around the backside.
Rear Guard is an easy to use product which is very effective in preventing flystrike for rabbits. It can be applied at home wearing gloves, or by one of our qualified nurses during clinics. A thorough layer is rubbed onto the rabbits fur from the middle of the back to the tip of the tail. It works for up to 10 weeks by inhibiting maggot development.
If you would like to discuss flystrike any further, please contact your local Pennard Vets branch, where will be more than happy to discuss your individual animals needs further. Or book in for a nurse consultation to apply Rear Guard and take steps to prevent this distressing disease affecting your pet.