Flies that bite dogs

There are different kinds of flies that bite. The most common is the stable fly. We used to call them horse flies. These flies can destroy a dogs ears and leave their chests and legs a mess. There is nothing sadder than seeing an uncared for dog with missing ears due to fly strikes. Prevention is so easy.

Fly bites cause a common condition in outside dogs, often called "fly strike." It most frequently occurs in dogs that live near farms with livestock, and occurs when flies land on and bite the tips and top surface of the dog's ears. They may also bite the bridge of the nose. They are biting the dog to obtain a blood meal and the bite is often painful. Because of the thin skin and hair on the ears and the inability of the dog to defend his ears, flies will seek out this location.

Some of these dogs will endure hundreds of bites a day for weeks at a time. Anyone that has ever been bitten by a stable fly knows how painful the bite is. If you see blood spots or flies congregating near your dog's ears then you can assume fly bites are occurring. The bite wounds attract flies which may lay their eggs in the damaged tissue. These will later hatch into maggots.

Prevention is better than cure. Owners use a variety of salves, insect repellents, and insecticides to kill the flies or keep them away. They slather stick insecticides, Vicks Vapo-rub, Vaseline, and other products to keep the flies off and use antibiotic creams to soothe the bites.

However, the best prevention is to keep affected dogs inside during the heat of the day. Whether you live in the city or country, do not underestimate the pain that these flies can inflict and be sure to initiate treatment at the first sign of fly bites on your pet. Gently cleanse the ear with warm water and a mild antiseptic soap. Then, apply a topical antibiotic ointment which will help to control any infection which may be present.

If the fly bites are severe, or maggots are present, veterinary attention is needed.

The most important treatment for this problem is prevention, which consists of applying a topical insecticide to the dog's ears. Pyrethrin or permethrin sprays and ointments are very effective in repelling flies. Homemade solutions made by adding pyrethrin to petroleum jelly also work well. Moving the pet indoors during the heat of the day also will help. Spraying the dog's outside living quarters will also help keep fly numbers to a minimum. Remove any materials which may attract flies, e.g., fecal material, uneaten pet food, garbage, etc. Keep your pet clean and well-groomed, removing any urine-soaked or fecal-contaminated hair.

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