Flystrike is a distressing condition that can affect any animal, but is particularly dangerous to rabbits. Flystrike occurs when flies such as bluebottles and greenbottles lay their eggs on injured or dirty animals. The eggs hatch into maggots and the maggots eat the flesh of the animal.
In hot weather the eggs hatch very quickly, and animals with soiled fur can invite flies far quicker than in cooler weather. Rabbits with bladder or urinary infections are particularly susceptible as are obese rabbits who may struggle to keep themselves clean. Helping your pet stay clean is important as is visiting your vet to resolve any underlying incontinence or obesity issues.
Clean living conditions are also essential. Soiled bedding and litter should be removed on a daily basis to ensure your pet can stay clean and dry.
It’s up to owners to regularly check their pets. Even healthy rabbits will occasionally struggle to clean themselves properly, and it takes as little as a couple of hours for flystrike to set in. Once it has set in it can cause heartbreaking damage.
Rabbits should be checked twice a day and if your pet is dirty, you should wash them with warm water and small pet shampoo. It’s also important to dry them thoroughly as well.
You can also grow plants around your rabbits enclosure that repel flies: lavender, rosemary, peppermint and chamomile are all great at repelling flies and are straightforward to find and grow.
If you suspect your pet has flystrike, you must get them to your vet immediately. Once flystrike has set in, maggots need to be removed surgically and your pet will need painkillers, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics.
Our vets can advise on preventing flystrike and recommend products to help protect your pet from flystrike.