Flystrike

 

 Flystrike not only affects guinea pigs and rabbits but can also affect other animals and pets who may have an open wound or for some reason can't clean themselves properly. Flystrike (scientific name “myiasis”) is a painful and dangerous condition whereby flies lay eggs on your guinea pig or Rabbit (usually their bottom) or in their housing which hatch into maggots. The maggots then begin to eat away at the flesh of your pet burying deeper and deeper and releasing deadly toxins which can lead to toxic shock and death if not treated immediately by a professional. 

 

Once this infestation has taken hold, your pet’s condition can deteriorate extremely rapidly, in fact, the fly eggs can hatch within hours in the hot summer months, so you must take immediate action and call your vet who will treat it as an emergency. Your guinea pig can recover from flystrike if it's caught in the early stages and your vet will do all they can to treat this condition. However, sometimes it is just spotted too late. If maggots have penetrated too far into your pet, your vet may recommend your guinea pig is euthanized (or put to sleep). 

 

This is why it is important to take preventative measures to stop your pet from getting flystrike.

 

What causes flystrike?

Flies thrive on damp, smelly environments. Guinea pigs and Rabbits are more likely to attract flies if they have any of the following:  a dirty bottom, a wet and dirty hutch, sores and open wounds, although flies in the summer can be attracted to any animal at any time, so they not necessarily have to be dirty, but it is in the hot summer months is when this condition is at its most prevalent.  

There are lots of flies around at this time of year and the hotter it is, the faster the fly eggs will hatch into maggots.

 

However, summer is not the only season when it can occur so you should be vigilant throughout the year, even in the colder months.

This condition can occur even on a clean pet but if your guinea pig has problems cleaning themselves thoroughly for any reason (eg, they are overweight, have tooth or bladder problems), they are at a higher risk of getting flystrike as they will be more attractive to flies looking for somewhere to lay their eggs.

 

If your Guinea pig is ill and suffering from diarrhoea or particularly smelly urine, this will make them more of a target for flies. 

 

 

How can I prevent flystrike?

 

There is no vaccination for flystrike and no way to keep flies away from your hutch if it is outside,  so the most important thing is to keep your guinea pigs & Bunny’s hutch clean. 

 

1-Clean your pets housing on a regularly. Never let it get to the point where it smells bad and use a pet-friendly disinfectant to clean the housing.  Soiled bedding should always be removed daily and a full clean should be carried out at least every week. Store your hutch waste well away from your hutch until you dispose of it properly. 

 

2-Make sure your guinea pig’s fur is kept clean. A dirty pet will be a fly magnet. Check your pets every day. This will ensure that you notice anything early and can save your pets life. Give a thorough check of their fur and especially around their bum area.

 

3-A healthy diet. This will help prevent diarrhoea or other health problems that can encourage flies to their housing. Too much fruit or a generally bad diet can cause problems. 

 

4-  Don’t leave unwanted fruit or vegetables in their cage as flies will be attracted to rotting food. Once their mealtime is over and they’ve lost interest, remove the bowls and discard the remaining food.

 

5-A guinea pig with arthritis, tooth problems, bladder problems or obesity can find it difficult to keep clean. If you find your guinea pig isn’t keeping himself as clean as usual, make an appointment with the vet for a check-up.

 

6- Check your pets housing. If you have a fly problem, it is worth considering covering their housing with an insect mesh which will prevent flies getting into the cage or hutch, via windows and doors. An insect mesh will help keep flies out of the hutch or cage. The mesh isn't expensive and offers good protection too.

 

7-There are flystrike protector sprays available to buy which are made especially for guinea pigs and rabbits. Two popular flystrike products are:

Johnsons Vet Fly Strike Protector for Small Animals & Beaphar Fly Guard.

If your guinea pigs are housed outdoors or if you have a fly problem indoors then it is better to be safe than sorry and to use a flystrike spray on your rabbits as a preventative measure.  Always read the instructions carefully before applying.

 

If you see eggs on your guinea pig’s fur, remove them and take them to the vet straight away for a check-up. You may have caught them early but be certain it doesn’t get worse or they may not get better. Remember, these eggs will hatch within hours.

 

Do not use any type of household fly spray-on or anywhere near your guinea pig. These are not designed for pets and are extremely dangerous!

 

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