Fly Bites on Dogs: Treatment and PreventionLast updated: January 31, 2022
Flies are aggravating to animals and humans alike, especially during their most active months from late spring to early fall. If your dog spends a lot of time outside during this time of year, it's not uncommon for fly bites to occur. Fly bites on dogs typically happen on the ears, nose, stomach, or anywhere else that's difficult for your dog to protect. Read on as we discuss the types of fly bites you may encounter, how to treat them, and how to prevent them.
Types of Fly Bites on Dogs
Black Fly Bites on Dogs
One of the more common types of flies you'll see, black flies range in size from 5-15 millimeters. They're most common near flowing bodies of water like rivers, streams, and creeks, and a bite usually results in a round, red mark on your dog's skin that is either flat or slightly swollen. This mark can either be solid or shaped like a ring or target.
Horse Fly Bites on Dogs
Horse flies will stand out from other flies by their size and coloring. Growing to as long as one inch, the lower portion of their body is black while the upper portion is white, often with several vertical black lines. They're most active during daytime hours in the summer and tend to be attracted to moving objects. Their bites are generally more painful than the average fly due to a scissor-like jaw that often breaks the skin and causes a small amount of bleeding. Otherwise, however, horse fly bites are generally harmless to dogs.
Treating Fly Strikes on Dogs
Outside pets and livestock need assistance to manage fly bites. Treatment involves cleaning the affected area, helping the healing process along, and keeping flies off in the meantime. Here are a few products we recommend:
- Vet Basics® General Ear Cleanser: Use this to help remove any debris inside the ear caused by the bite itself or any scratching your dog has done at their ears.
- Vet Basics® ChlorConazole™ Wipes: Clean the affected area with hydrogen peroxide or ChlorConazole™ Wipes to remove any crusting. The ChlorConazole™ will kill or prevent bacterial and fungal (ringworm) infections from settling in the traumatized area.
- Micro-Tek Pet Spray: This product can be used to provide relief for itchy and irritated skin. It will help prevent biting, scratching, and itching, as well as accelerate healing by helping promote a healthy skin and coat. After cleaning the areas with ChlorConazole, liberally apply Micro-Tek to cover the affected area to seal it and encourage hair growth.
- Cedarcide Original Biting Insect Spray: Use this to repel flies. Cedarcide is a natural, organic and ready-to-spray cedar oil solution. It is non-toxic, DEET free and safely repels flies and other biting insects. It is safe for use on people, pets and most indoor surfaces. Note that most topical repellents do have Pyrethrins in them, and this is a way to add repellent to a wider area of your dog's body.
How to Keep Flies Off Dogs
There are several ways to help prevent fly bites on dogs' ears and elsewhere. First, outdoor animal areas should have fly bait or traps to capture adult flies before they can lay eggs. Even removing some flies from the breeding population will decrease the size of the next generation. QuickBayt can be mixed with water and painted on a fly bait station. The granules can also be used directly in an open container to attract and kill flies. Fly traps work by drawing flies into a container they can't escape from, causing them to die. They can also be easily discarded and replaced if needed.
Both methods have been used effectively in kennels and livestock facilities, even under decks to keep flies away from humans. You can also spray the area with premise sprays, which provide a quick knockdown of flies and other insects in the broad area where animals live.
Lastly, here are some general tips to help prevent flies on dogs' ears, stomach, and more:
- Bring them inside during hours of peak activity for flies.
- Bathe them regularly to maintain a clean coat and skin.
- Clean up after your dog in your yard.
- Keep trash and recycling cans closed tightly.
- Wrap a bandana around their head to protect their ears.
That's all we have for identifying, treating, and preventing fly bites on dogs. If you have any additional questions about our recommendations or the products mentioned above, contact our Pet Care Pros at 800.786.4751 and we'll be happy to help. If you believe your dog has been bitten by a fly and have medical questions or concerns, contact your veterinarian.
- Orkin. "Fly Facts & Information" https://www.orkin.com/. 27 January 2022.
- Healthline. "Types of Fly Bites, Symptoms, and Treatment" https://www.healthline.com/. 27 January 2022.
- Healthline. "What to Do If You Get a Horsefly Bite" https://www.healthline.com/. 27 January 2022.
- WIVB. "How you can protect your dog from Black Fly bites" https://www.wivb.com/. 27 January 2022.
Shelley Hexom is Revival's Content Manager and helps develop educational pet health resources. A three-time Emmy Award-winning news anchor, Shelley works with Revival's Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, to help create useful and easy-to-understand articles, videos, and webinars. Shelley received her bachelor degree in Mass Communications from Winona State University in 2002. As a pet owner, Shelley enjoys time with her Boxer mix, Sally. Shelley has been part of the Revival Paw Squad since 2016.
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.