Sunday, 20 October 2013

How Clean Is Your Pet (And Its House)?

I love looking after my rabbits Simba (top) and Nala (bottom) and an important part of their care is making sure both them and their environment are kept unsoiled.

Some pet owners dislike this part of keeping an animal, but if you don't ensure that they are kept clean and in sanitary conditions, this could result in your pet getting ill or in the worst case scenario, passing away. I clean out my rabbits every day before I leave for work because animals that live outside face the constant danger of flies, which could result in flystrike.

While flystrike mainly occurs in warm weather, it can happen at any time. As well as affecting rabbits, it can also harm guinea pigs, cats or dogs and is a very painful condition. Certain types of flies will lay eggs on an animal and these then hatch into maggots, which sadly begin to eat the animal's flesh. This can be fatal if it is not caught in time, and even then there is a risk that the animal will not survive.

The flies are attracted by wet or soiled fur, often around the rear end. A few years ago we had a rabbit called Millie, who developed fly strike. We were always very vigilant with keeping her clean, because she had a large ruff of fur under her head, which always made it difficult for her to clean herself. One day, I just had a feeling that I should check her before I went to work and spotted a maggot on her rear end. Thankfully, we rushed her to the vets and they managed to get all of them off her. They told us that if we had found her an hour later that it would have been too late.

I was recently sent some Zoflora concentrated disinfectant, which I tried out on Simba's hutch, in order to see if it would make his house more sanitary. Killing 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, Zoflora also eliminates bad odours caused by your pets and ensures that hard surface pet areas are kept fresh all day long.

I chose the Apple Orchard disinfectant and diluted it to use as a spray. A disinfectant spray is much easier for me to use on a rabbit hutch and also stops the area from becoming saturated with fluid. Obviously, I would not want this to happen because the area needs to be dry before Simba could be returned to his hutch.

I followed the instructions, but adapted them slightly to make 200ml of disinfectant. This was because I already had an empty spray bottle, which could only hold this amount of fluid. Therefore I only added half a capful of the disinfectant to 200ml of water, instead of a whole capful to 400ml of water. This disinfectant must be diluted before being used on an area where pets are kept. However, it cannot be used in areas for fish and reptiles.


Once I had made up the solution, I then poured this into the empty spray bottle and I was ready to go. I tend to use a liberal amount of disinfectant when spraying Simba or Nala's hutch, because the British weather can be warm one minute and raining the next! I also move all of Simba or Nala's bedding away from the area I am disinfecting because it could be harmful to them if they then ate a piece of straw or hay, which had accidently been sprayed while I was cleaning them out. After this I, left Simba's hutch floor to dry for a couple of hours.

I'm quite lucky because both Simba and Nala are pretty clean rabbits. Nala always goes to the toilet in the litter tray and while Simba has a litter tray, he likes to go to the toilet just beside it at the front of the hutch. Cheeky monkey!

Once the hutch was dry, I put all the bedding down and then put Simba to bed in his hutch. I definitely noticed a nice scent of apple and I think Simba appreciated this too! The hutch didn't take too long to dry once it had been sprayed and it was nice to mix my own disinfectant, so I could dilute it appropriately depending on how much I needed to use.

Remember a clean home means a happy pet!

  • To help prevent flystrike, owners should thoroughly check their pets for open wounds, illness or strange behaviour every day. Your pets' fur and skin on its rear end should also be checked at least twice a day, especially in warm weather
  • If your pet is dirty, clean it with warm water to help remove all traces. Toilet areas should also be cleaned out every day to prevent flies around their house. 
  • In warm weather, it is also worth putting netting (or something along those lines) in front of your rabbit's hutch. This will still enable them to see outside, but will help insect proof the hutch too.
  • If you think your rabbit has flystrike, see a vet immediately!
Zoflora is available from all major supermarkets, as well as Savers and Wilkinson's, and comes in a number of different fragrances including Apple Orchard, Lavender and Rose. For more information, visit: 

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