Fly Strike – Rhodes 2 Safety

Fly Strike – Rhodes 2 Safety

I always encourage our Rhodes 2 Safety followers to get in touch if they have any questions or any past experiences they’d like to share with us all.  Yesterday, I received this one in relation to Fly Strike:-

“Years ago I had a dog suffer with fly strike.  I never did find what caused it and is it preventable?

Great question and one worth covering, especially at this time of year when the temperatures are hot and humid and everybody is finding it just a little bit too warm and sticky.
Fly Strike is also known as Myiasis and leads to an infestation of maggots.  When the maggots appear, we call it “fly blown” or “fly strike”.

Fly strike can occur in all animal species, even humans, if the conditions are just right.  Flies are attracted, basically, to anything “stinky”, so we are talking infected skin, sweaty/dirty skin folds, matted fur, diarrhoea, vomit, blood and pus (as I said, basically anything stinky!).

The flies are attracted to the stench and lay their eggs which, in a matter of just 8-12 hours, will hatch out into maggots.  The maggots will feed only on dead skin tissues and rotting wounds and as you can imagine, this is a very painful and irritating sensation for the animal playing host to the little wrigglers.  As the eggs hatch out so quickly, fly strike is a condition that increases in severity at an alarming rate.  If left untreated for any length of time, the maggots will begin to eat the healthy flesh as well which can actually prove fatal for your pet particularly if they are old, young or are frail due to a recent illness or poor condition.

Getting your dog to the vet as soon as possible cannot be stressed too highly.  It is important for you to determine exactly what it was that attracted the flies to your dog in the first place – perhaps he has been ill recently with an upset tummy or “runny bum”.  Maybe he has been vomiting.  Is his fur matted which could be disguising a wound or sore beneath?  Is he overweight or “designed” to have skin folds which may have become sweaty and sore or infected without you realising? Is he incontinent and the smell of the urine is enticing the flies or perhaps he has weeping eyes and this is what the flies are homing in on?  Any unpleasant odour if left without bathing could easily be the source of your problem.

As well as addressing the actual cause of the infestation (say an upset tummy in the case of diarrhoea or matted fur causing a sore beneath), your vet will need to remove all the maggots as soon as possible before doing anything else.

In order to get full access to the wound site to ensure the area can be flushed and cleaned thoroughly, the fur will likely need to be clipped away and any moist or weeping areas allowed to dry off.

Once the immediate “maggot-removal” treatment has been done, your dog will probably require a course of antibiotics and possibly painkillers to help make him more comfortable.  If the area is one that he can reach, then please try to keep him from scratching or gnawing at the wound site – the application of a collar to prevent this might help.

buster blow up collar

Obviously, prevention is better than the cure so taking care to bathe and groom your pet regularly will prevent problems such as dermatitis and wet eczema which will attract flies.
If your pet has been ill, please seek professional help quickly as problems like diarrhoea, vomiting or incontinence, while not only a worry for the health of your pet, will also be the kind of things that will make flies zone in Fido as they smell him.  For that reason, its a good idea to keep him indoors while he is ill to prevent flies landing on him while you are out.
If your dog is overweight or is supposed to have rolls of skin on his body, such as the Shar-Pei, the Basset Hound or the Dachshund for example, then please take extra care, particularly when the weather is warm, to keep the skin folds clean and fresh and free from sweat or “cheesy” exudate.