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Black Fly Bites on Dogs: Symptoms & Treatments (With FAQs)

Picture of black fly bites on dogs

Black fly bites on dogs are one of the common dog problems associated with bug bites. They tend to cause redness and swelling on a dog’s body, accompanied by mild itching and pain.

For the most part, a black fly bite on a dog is not dangerous as it can often be treated with home remedies. However, infection and allergic reactions can occur in severe circumstances.

This article covers everything you need to know about a black fly bite on dogs, including identification and prevention. If you think your dog has one, read until the end to learn more!

Are Black Fly Bites Harmful?

Unlike tick and flea bites, black fly bites alone are typically harmless to dogs and are not likely to pose a serious threat.

Although they can cause discomfort to the pooch, they often go away on their own within two to three days.

Nevertheless, cleaning the bite wound is still important to prevent secondary infections. This infection is what dog owners should watch out for as it most likely leads to negative signs and illness.

Additionally, some dogs can have allergic reactions to black fly bites, which could be life-threatening to some dogs. Although these allergies are rare, it’s advised to be on the lookout for any associated symptoms.

How to Identify a Black Fly Bite

Small black fly living on warm dry grasslands

There are several bugs that can bite dogs, and it’s sometimes difficult for owners to differentiate each one. However, it’s advised to know which bug bit your pooch so it can be treated accordingly.

In the following sections, everything you need to know about identifying a black fly bite will be discussed.

What Are Black Flies?

Black flies, also called buffalo gnats, are a very common type of fly known to emerge during warm and humid days. They are the ones you see flying around, buzzing in large groups, and annoying people and animals alike.

Although they can be seen anywhere, black flies are mostly found near flowing water like rivers, creeks, and streams. They lay their eggs in the water and produce large amounts of young that mostly gather in swarms.

Black flies bite and usually feed off of animals’ blood. Their peak biting season is mid-May to late June.

Although they can leave behind some spots, these bites shouldn’t be a concern as they are mostly harmless to your dog.

What Does a Black Fly Bite Look Like on a Dog?

A black fly bite is easy to spot as it’s quite distinctive in appearance. It looks like a ring with a dot in the center, resembling a bullseye.

The ring, sometimes described as a halo, is mostly flat and comes in various colors. These include light pink, bright red, and sometimes purple. The dot in the center, or the bite mark itself, is red and slightly elevated.

Black flies like to bite on exposed areas of the body with softer skin. Hence, these bite marks can often be found on the dog’s belly, thighs, and ears where fur is thinner or doesn’t grow.

Because black flies tend to gather and attack in swarms, it’s not impossible for a dog to only have one red blotch. Sometimes, a pooch can have several bites.

It may look bad, but it shouldn’t be a cause of panic for dog owners. As long as the bite wounds are kept clean, they will remain harmless and just go away on their own.

Different Types of Fly Bites

A black fly is just one of the several types of fly. There are also other ones that could be described as bloodsucking fly species. Most of these are found in damp, grassy, and wooded areas.

Some flies like buzzing on large animals you see on farms like horses and cattle. However, dogs that live near these areas or in a primarily outdoor environment can also be potentially attacked and bitten by these flies.

The list below shows the different types of fly bites on dogs aside from black fly bites:

  • Yellow fly bites: Yellow flies are often seen around forested wetlands and other humid and shaded areas. They leave small, painful, and itchy bite marks. Yellow fly bites are harmless and disappear in a few days.
  • No-see-um bites: No-see-ums, also known as biting midges, are commonly found in grasses. No-see-um bites look like a small red lump with a lighter color outline. They also go away on their own without any medical treatment.
  • Horse fly bites: Often found around swamps and marshes, horse flies have a knife-like jaw that breaks the skin and causes a little bleeding. With this, horse fly bites are more painful compared to black fly bites, but they are also harmless. Their bite mark is a bit bigger than yellow fly and no-see-um bites.
  • Stable fly bites: Stable flies are mostly seen on livestock stables. They lay their eggs on rotting hay, grasses, or straws. Stable fly bites are similar to horse fly bites; they are painful and leave small cuts and blood on the mark.

Fly bites, in general, don’t affect the whole dog’s body and often disappear without any treatment. However, they are mildly painful and itchy, so they can still cause discomfort to dogs.

What Are the Symptoms of a Black Fly Bite?

Black fly bites on dog ears

If the pooch happens to roam around areas where black flies are abundant, there’s a big chance that the dog will have a black fly bite on its body.

As dog owners, it’s important to look for symptoms associated with this to assess the next steps you should be taking if your dog has a bite.

The list below shows the symptoms of a black fly bite on dogs:

  • A red blotch on the skin, especially on exposed areas like the belly and groin
  • Slightly swollen bite mark with ring or halo
  • Mild itching

If your dog shows these symptoms, they are most likely bitten by a black fly. With this, it’s advised to observe your pooch for any other symptoms that may be caused by allergic reactions or infections.

Here are the symptoms you need to watch out for that are associated with secondary effects of black fly bites:

  • Anaphylaxis (includes diarrhea, vomiting, hives or rashes, excessive drooling, and swollen face or muzzle)
  • Seizures
  • Weakness
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath

Consult your veterinarian immediately if your dog shows any of these signs shortly after noticing the black fly bite mark.

How to Treat Black Fly Bites on Dogs

Black fly bites often don’t require treatment as they disappear on their own within a few days. However, it’s still important to take good care of the bite wound so it remains infection-free.

To treat a black fly bite on dogs, gently clean the affected area with warm water and mild soap. This way, you can keep the bite wound free from bacteria that can cause the infection.

Additionally, ensure that the dog stays indoors so the wound won’t get dirty. Applying an ointment also helps with the itchy feeling, so scratching and licking the wound can be avoided.

It’s also advised to use an ice pack to relieve any swelling. These home remedies are necessary to soothe any discomfort that the black fly bite brings to your pooch.

How to Prevent Black Fly Bites on Dogs

Preventing black fly bites on dogs

While it’s quite easy to treat a dog’s black fly bite, it’s preferable to prevent it from happening. Although rare, there’s still a chance that the affected pooch might display allergic reactions from it or even acquire an infection.

There are several ways to prevent black fly bites on dogs, and here are some tips for dog owners to consider:

  • Keep your pet clean
  • Use pet-safe bug spray
  • Avoid places with bodies of water, especially during humid days
  • Remove any possible breeding ground spaces, such as stagnant water, overflowing trash bins, and fecal matter
  • Keep garbage cans closed
  • Clean pet waste in the yard, including uneaten food scraps and rawhide bones

By following these tips, you can keep your pooch from unnecessarily getting black fly bites.

When to See Your Vet

While black fly bites are not dangerous on their own, they can have some negative effects on the dog if the wound is infected or if the dog has allergic reactions to the bite.

You’ll know if your pooch suffers from secondary infection if the wound looks worse, swells more, and doesn’t disappear within a few days.

You should also watch out for symptoms of allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis, hives, and seizures.

Immediately consult your veterinarian when you notice any of these signs on your dog. Some allergies are fatal and require immediate attention. It will also help to have pet insurance when times like these occur.

Can You Use Human Bug Spray on Your Dog?

Using bug human bug spray on dog

It’s not advised to use human bug spray on your dog as it contains chemicals harmful to pets.

A commonly used chemical in many pest-repellent products is DEET. Using this on dogs could lead to DEET toxicity.

Dogs may not only absorb the chemical through their skin, but they could also potentially ingest small amounts. They are known to lick their skin and fur every now and then as a way of cleaning themselves.

If you ought to use bug spray on your pooch, there are many pet-safe insect repellents you can choose from. You can even prepare a homemade one!

Check out this short video showing how to make a natural fly repellent for dogs:

How To Make Natural Fly Repellent For Dogs

Black Fly Bites vs. Ringworm on Dogs: What’s the Difference?

Black fly bites and ringworms have different appearances on a dog’s skin. Ringworms look scabby and scaly and appear like patches of hair loss. Meanwhile, black fly bites look flat and smooth but lumpy in the center.

Unlike black fly bites, ringworm is a contagious fungal infection and can be transmitted through direct contact with the fungus. It often requires treatment and will take longer to heal than black fly bites.

Additionally, black fly bites don’t reoccur. Meanwhile, ringworm has a possibility of recurrence when treatment is stopped too early.

Frequently Asked Questions

Black fly trying to bite the Pug dog

How Long Do Black Fly Bites Take to Heal on Dogs?

Black fly bites normally heal within 48 to 72 hours. Within this period, the mark should not appear any longer. If it’s still visible after a week, observe any negative signs and consult with your veterinarian.

Are Black Fly Bites Itchy?

Black fly bites are mildly itchy. Because of this, dogs tend to scratch and lick bite wounds, which may result in infection. To prevent this, keeping the wound clean and applying an ointment are advised.

Can Black Fly Bites Get Infected?

Black fly bites can get infected and may cause unwanted symptoms and illness to your dog. Hence, it’s important to always keep the bite wound clean to prevent any growth of bacteria.

Can Black Flies Carry Lyme Disease?

Black flies don’t carry Lyme disease. This disease is only caused by a certain type of tick called deer tick or black-legged tick. Black fly bites alone don’t cause diseases and are usually harmless.

Final Thoughts

Black flies are typically congregated in areas near bodies of water. They are abundant during warm and humid days. They mostly come in swarms and bite humans and animals alike.

A black fly bite on dogs is not dangerous. It resolves on its own without any treatment, but it’s still advised to soothe your dog’s discomfort by applying home remedies. Cleaning the wound is also important to prevent infections.

Always watch out for any symptoms and allergic reactions that may accompany infections. Call your vet immediately for any negative signs that cause pain to your dog.

Hopefully, this article answered your questions about black fly bites on dogs. Share your thoughts about this in the comment section below!