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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Fly Bites View In Cats

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Cats are almost never bothered by flies, but dogs (especially those with upright ears like German shepherds) often have bites on the inside tips of their ears.


Dogs with fly bites on the ears won't have much bleeding, but the ear margins and tips will be crusty from the inflammation and serum that leaks from the bites. Little dogs are rarely bothered, but big dogs more commonly live outside, where they are exposed to the flies in the warmer seasons. Larger dogs also deposit larger amounts of feces, which tends to draw flies.


Biting flies are attracted to and parasite from all warm blooded animals.


Diagnosis can be made by inspecting the bite location.


Fly bite problems can be easily controlled with first aid.

  1. Soften the scab - hold a washcloth soaked with warm water against your pet's sore area to soften scabs and crusty material. If may take 2 - 3 minutes until the material softens enough to be wiped away.
  2. Wash the area - Once the crusty material is gone, wash the raw areas with an antiseptic liquid soap like Betadine Skin Cleanser, and be sure to rinse off the soap. Using plain warm water with a gauze pad is safest for cats.
  3. Apply an antibiotic ointment - Use an over the counter antibiotic ointment like Neosporin to help soothe the inflammation and prevent the ears (or affected area) from getting infected.


You can get rid of the problem all together 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 (daily if necessary) will drastically reduce the pests, since flies won't be attracted to your yard.

Another effective prevention is to bring your dog inside away from the fly infested area. However, if this is not possible you can also use a fly repellent gel to keep the flies off your pet. Products like Pet-Guard gel are available at pet-supply stores or your veterinarians office. You need to apply it several times a day and layer it on pretty thick to keep the flies away. If you don't have a fly repellent, a pet-safe flea repellent will also work. Spray the repellent on a gauze pad and wipe it onto your pet's ears, the top of his head, and around his neck. Be sure to follow the package instructions - some flea sprays are dangerous in combination with other insect repellents.

Flies are most attracted to horses, but they will make due with your dog's ears when nothing else is available. Fly repellents designed for pets work well for most dogs. Products designed to protect horses from fly bites may be an option for large dogs for a limited amount of time. They not only repel the bugs but also kill flies on contact so that they don't lay eggs and produce more biting pests.

Swat Fly Repellent Ointment comes in 6-ounce jars in either pink or clear formula and is available from pet supply catalogs. It contains pyrethrin, a natural insecticide that is safe for pets, and repels several species of flies. You can use it sparingly on your pet's face, ears, and even around open wounds to prevent maggot infestations. Don't apply it to broken skin or to the wounds themselves. Don't use it for more than 3 consecutive days or on pets who weight less than 50lbs.


Fly bites make ears very sore, and they will continue to leak serum and crust up for several days, even without more bites. Keep the sores clean by wiping off the excess crust at least once a day. use a soft cloth or gauze pad soaked in water or sterile saline contact lens solution.

Apply antibiotic ointment in a thick layer several times a day. This not only helps prevent infection, but also provides a mechanical barrier to keep the flies away. You'll need to reapply it very often because pets tend to wipe off the ointment by rubbing their sore ears against objects.

Show Sources & Contributors +


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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