Archive for August, 2016

Flystrike in Pet Rabbits

During warm periods of the year (April to October) we see a number of flystrike cases in pet rabbits.  Sadly we have recently seen a few fatal cases in the practice.

What is flystrike?

Flystrike is a devastating condition caused by the fly Lucilia sericata, or a green bottle fly, the same species that infests sheep. These green bottle flies are attracted to damp fur soiled with urine or soft faeces.

Each fly can lay up to 200 eggs on the skin at the rear end of an animal which then hatch into maggots within hours and grow by feeding on flesh. The maggots can very quickly eat away large areas of tissue around the bottom, tail, scent glands, belly and back, and affected rabbits are quite literally ‘eaten alive’.

What are the symptoms are flystrike?

Initially your pet may just look quiet, so it’s important to check your rabbit’s fur daily for any signs of maggots. As the maggots grow and eat away more surface area of the skin, severe shock develops, eventually leading to collapse and death.

If you find maggots crawling in your rabbit’s fur, it is an emergency and you must call your vet immediately.

How is flystrike treated?

If veterinary help is sought early, your pet can be saved by receiving prompt treatment comprising of the removal of the maggots, clipping and cleaning of fur from debris, pain relief, topical soothing products and antibiotics. Fluid therapy, treatment of gastrointestinal complications and syringe feeding may be required in more severe cases. If extensive tissue loss has occurred a rabbit may need to be put to sleep to relieve suffering.

What can I do to prevent flystrike?

Many affected rabbits we see at Haven are generally very well looked after, but it only takes a small amount of soiling for the flies to strike. Rabbits who cannot groom themselves effectively due to long fur, obesity, arthritis or painful teeth are at greater risk.

Checking your rabbit’s bottom at least twice a day will help to detect infestation early. Haven will be able to supply you with the treatment that is needed to help prevent this happening, it can be done at one of our nurses clinics, so give either practice a call.  Hedon 898301 or Hull 376477.