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Keep an eye on your pet rabbits in case of fly strike

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: August 07, 2014

Vet Harriet Potter.

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THIS year, we can confidently say we've had a summer – long, warm days, which are great if you're on holiday in the paddling pool but, for our pets it can be quite a difficult time.

We all know that we shouldn't leave our pets in the car on a warm day but do you know that you should be checking your rabbit twice a day for maggots?

Yes, those gross little creatures can cause your beloved pet a lot of pain and distress and it's more common than you may think.

The warm days which we are currently enjoying bring with them the ideal lifestyle for flies and, where there are flies, there are maggots! It is also worth remembering that this condition is not just seen in rabbits but guinea pigs and other small furries too!

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The common conditions which would predispose your rabbit to being a target for fly strike at this time of year include having damp fur around its back end from urine or faeces, struggling to groom (often associated with being elderly or arthritic), or open wounds.

Flies are attracted to the back end of your rabbit where they lay their eggs which can hatch into maggots within hours (this is why it's so important to check them carefully more than once a day). Once the maggots have hatched they can cause serious and occasionally fatal disease.

Should you spot any on your rabbit, then get in contact with your vet immediately. This condition cannot be underestimated and the treatment of it is an emergency.

So what can you do to protect your rabbit this summer? It may not be the most pleasant of tasks but checking your pet's bottom twice daily during the summer is essential.

Should you notice urine or faeces stuck to the fur then wash and dry the area and, if it is happening regularly then it may be worth a trip to the vet to check there isn't an underlying problem.

Removing dirty bedding and litter daily is equally important as flies are attracted to any muck which may be within the hutch. There are also fly repellant products that you can use in conjunction with your daily management routine. Your vet can help advise you on the most appropriate product.

Don't forget that, while you're eating your ice cream in the shade, your pets need a cool place to avoid the sun and plenty of water.

We hope that you manage to enjoy the warm weather while it lasts and, with this advice, your pets get the most out of the summer too!

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