Every year hundreds of rabbits endure the misery of flystrike. All need veterinary treatment and many have to be put to sleep. Flystrike occurs when flies lay eggs on soiled or wet fur round the rear end of the rabbit. The eggs hatch and the maggots start to do untold damage to any tissues they encounter. The saddest thing is that it is completely preventable so here are the steps to take to make sure your rabbit stays safe;
- LOOK- check your rabbit’s behind every single day of the year. During the summer when flies are most active check twice. Look for wet fur, soiling, faeces, eggs or maggots. Clean away the former four and get to a vet straight away if maggots are already there. Flies may also be attracted to folds of skin like the dewlap so check there too.
- DIET- Rabbits recycle their poo by eating a soft type of poo straight from their bottom to digest it a second time. If your rabbit is overweight they can’t reach to do this and the fur quickly gets clogged with soft poo. This is bad for their health but also attracts flies immediately. A high fibre diet helps digestion, helps the teeth enormously and helps avoid obesity. Talk to your vet about a balanced diet for your rabbit and above all don’t feed muesli-type food because it allows selective feeding and leads to ill health. Suddenly being allowed loads of fresh grass can also lead to soft poo so introduce your rabbit gradually to that delicious lawn!
- PRODUCTS- Talk to your vet about suitable products to use. Rearguard can be applied to the fur round the back end and repels flies. Xenex is a spot-on treatment which kills many parasites including fleas, ticks, lice and maggots and it also helps repel flies too. Remember NEVER to use dog or cat products on your rabbit as many are harmful and can be fatal. You can also use fly netting and fly strips around and over the hutch.
- HURRY- if you think your rabbit has flystrike it is an emergency. Go straight to your vet without delay.
Anyone who’s seen flystrike would never want to see it again and vets’ hearts sink every time a case comes through the door. Following these simple tips will not only help cheer up the veterinary profession but can easily help your rabbit have a fly-free summer!