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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Fly Bite Dermatitis




Condition Overview

Biting flies can attack the face and ears of dogs, sucking blood and inflicting painful bites over the tips or bent folds of the ears. These bites don't bleed much, but they will look crusty and painful.


These bites are typically scabbed and crusty black, and bleed easily. German Shepards and other breeds with erect ears are most susceptible.


Dogs are attacked by biting flies.


Diagnosis is made by physical examination.


Gently clean off the crust with warm water and any mild antibacterial soap, then pat dry.
Keep your dog indoors during the day until the wounds are healed. If you are unable to do so, apply insect repellant to the tips of the ears. Products approved for use around horses' eyes work well, such as Farnam's Fly Off Ointment. Keep the ears clean and dry to discourage flies. Infected ear tips should be treated with a topical antibiotic ointment such as triple antibiotic.


You can use a fly repellant gel to keep flies off your pet. You can also get rid of the problem completely just by cleaning up your yard. Stable flies lay eggs and mature in decaying material like grass clippings, seaweed along beaches, wet haystacks, and feces. The life cycle from egg to adult fly is about 2 - 3 weeks, so just picking up the dog piles frequently (or daily) will drastically reduce pests, since flies won't be attracted to your yard.


Please contact your veterinarian with any questions regarding this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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