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Flies are annoying – buzzing around our homes and gardens, landing on food and on us – it all gets very irritating. However, for our pets flies can be more than just an annoyance.

Nibbles was an active 3 year old guinea pig who came to the vets recently because he was unwell. His owners had noticed he was wet around his bottom and they thought they saw maggots on his skin. They were right. Nibbles was suffering from a condition called Fly Strike.

This was caused by flies landing on Nibbles and laying their eggs. These eggs then hatch quickly into maggots! The maggots will eventually become flies but before they reach this stage they need to feed. They will feed on any dirt or faeces on an animal but they will also start to feed on the skin and tissues of the animal too.

Unfortunately for poor Nibbles this was what had happened and the maggots had caused a lot of damage to his back and his bottom. He was given an injection to kill any further eggs and all the maggots were picked off from his coat. Due to the amount of damage the maggots had caused Nibbles was very weak and had to spend several days in hospital. Unfortunately in the end his injuries were too severe and we had to let Nibbles go which was very sad.

Fly Strike can affect all animals but small animals like guinea pigs and rabbits are often at most risk. The flies are attracted to the faeces in their cages. To prevent fly strike it is very important to check our pets every day and clean out their cages. This will make sure faecal material is not building up. Also check their bottoms and coats and if they are soiled clean and dry them daily. Outdoor dogs should also be cleaned out daily and a fly cream can be used for the dogs. This careful cleaning should minimise the attraction for the flies and the risk of fly strike.

If you are worried your pet may have been affected by fly strike take them to the vet immediately so prompt treatment can be given.

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