When it comes to the warmer months, our animals can need even more attention. Whilst we might enjoy the sunshine on summer days, the hotter weather can mean disaster for our rabbits and guinea pigs if they aren’t properly checked. One major problem in this time is flystrike, but we wanted to give some general advice on how to keep your smaller pets as healthy as possible. We’ll talk through some of the main issues in the next few weeks.
What is flystrike?
Flystrike is a disease caused by flies laying their eggs on our animals. When the eggs hatch into maggots these can burrow and cause damage to our animal’s skin and organs.
Who does it affect?
Any animal could be at risk of flystrike but we see it most in rabbits. If an animal is unable to groom or clean themselves then the smell from this will attract the flies to the area. It is important to monitor rabbits for their eating, passing faeces and their movement. If they are sat in the corner of their hutch for long periods this is not normal and would make them a higher risk for the disease.
Is it serious?
Sadly this can be a fatal condition if the damage is too severe. Often badly affected animals may need to be euthanized on welfare grounds. If caught early, treatment is possible.
Is there any treatment?
Depending on the severity of the condition, treatment would involve removal of the eggs and maggots and an application of a suitable insecticidal treatment to prevent re-infestation. The rabbit would need pain relief, gut motility drugs if needed as well as appropriate antibiotics to cover for infection.
What can I do to prevent it?
The best way to prevent flystrike is by regular checks of your pets and by using a veterinary prescribed deterrent spray or foam. Commonly flystrike affects around their back ends, so checking their lower abdomen and around their bottoms on a daily basis will pick up quickly if there are any problems. Also maintaining good hutch hygiene will help not to attract flies to the area. Speak to your vet about insecticidal sprays and foams which are safe to apply to your small animals. These can help to deter flies and other insects from laying their eggs in the first place.
Stay tuned for more rabbit health information. Next week we will discuss an infection called E. cuniculi which can affect your rabbit’s mobility and balance.