Clarendon Street Veterinary Surgery’s share expert advice on flystrike in rabbits

August 14, 2021

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Flystrike can cause real suffering for rabbits and in some cases can prove fatal. Clarendon Street Veterinary Surgery’s expert team answer common questions and share their top tips on fighting flystrike below.

Call us on 01223 359021 if you suspect flystrike.

What causes flystrike in rabbits?

Rabbits are the most at-risk small pet for this deadly condition. Flies (especially bottle flies) like to lay eggs in warm, damp places. A rabbit that smells of faeces, urine, or blood is a prime target. Unfortunately, flies are also drawn to a rabbit’s scent glands.

Flystrike occurs when flies lay eggs on a rabbit, or in soiled bedding. The eggs hatch into maggots, which burrow into the rabbits flesh through open sores or moist areas (like the rear), eating and causing significant damage and pain as they go. Pets that have digestive problems and struggle to keep themselves clean (due to illness, old age, arthritis, or dental issues) are most at risk.

Why do rabbits die from flystrike?

Flystrike in rabbits is a horrible condition that is often fatal if not spotted early. If the shock or infection doesn’t cause death, then in advanced cases euthanasia can be the kindest option. If you suspect your rabbit has flystrike, contact our vets quickly on 01223 359021

How to tell if your rabbit has flystrike?

Flystrike progresses at an alarming rate and can cause death if untreated. You may notice that

  • Your rabbit is quiet and lethargic.
  • He or she may be refusing food and drink.
  • A strong smell may be coming from their hutch.
  • Your rabbit may dig into corners for pain relief.
  • Maggots and flies may be visible around your pet and in their housing or bedding.

Top tips to prevent flystrike

Keeping your pet and their bedding clean and dry is the best flystrike prevention. Here are our Head Nurse Catherine’s top tips to help you help your bunny.Ensure your rabbit is producing and eating their caecal (soft poops)

  • Check your pet’s rear end and fur daily (incontinence can attract flies.)
  • Gently bathe their rear end with pet-safe shampoo if they’re not keeping clean.
  • Ensure your rabbit is producing and eating their caecal (soft poops)
  • Clear your rabbit’s hutch of poo pellets and soiled bedding daily.
  • Feed your rabbit a fibrous diet including hay, vegetables, and fresh water. This will help to:
  1. Keep their digestive system working well and avoid upset tummies and soiling.
  2. Keep them in shape so they can reach to groom all areas.
  3. Avoid dental issues, which can in turn cause upset tummies and soiling.

If your rabbit has a condition that is causing soiling or incontinence and they are struggling to clean themselves, there are preventative treatments you can get for flystrike. Request a visit with our vet nurses to learn more.


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