Fly strike on dogs

Fly strike is a well-known problem with sheep. It can also be an issue for horses and dogs. Fly strike happens when flies start burrowing into the fur/hair and nip at the skin. Once the skin is broken, more flies are attracted by the moisture, blood, and smell as an infection invariably sets in. In some veterinary cases, flies have laid eggs on the skin and maggots then infest the coat and inner ears. Fly strike is most common around moist areas such as the tail and the ears.

Telltale signs of a problem are shaking, rubbing, or scratching the affected part of the body. Unfortunately the natural reaction of the dogs to try to rid themselves of the irritation only tends to worsen the problem.

Left untended, fly strike is both a huge nuisance and very unpleasant for animal and owner alike.

Any dog affected by fly strike should be taken to a vet. The vet can shave the hair from around the scabbed areas. This helps to dry it out and keep it clean. An application of antibiotic ointment, which sometimes contains an anti-inflammatory, is smeared on bitten parts of the skin. This helps to clear up any infection and soothes the injured region.

Once stricken, the problem is to treat the infection and sores whilst avoiding any further fly infestations. A number of veterinary solutions are available to help with this. Most flea treatments are simply insufficient for the prevention of fly strike. Some horse fly treatments will work well enough for dogs. Veterinary advice is paramount as to the most suitable medication for your pet. Any treatments advised or supplied by your vet must be carried through as per the package instructions, or at the advice of the vet.

A number of preventative, pre-infection options are available from health food or hardware stores. Flies are adverse to citronella oil, tee tree oil, lavender, and garlic. Tee tree oil has the added advantages of natural anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties. These substances may be applied without concern to the animal’s coat in the areas where infestation tends to occur. It is essential to use only forms safe for humans. If nothing else is available, fly spray sprayed onto a cloth or cotton wool and wiped around the area prone to attack will help reduce or eliminate strikes. This is only appropriate if the area is out of licking range. A clove of garlic in their diet may also be a beneficial deterrent.

Some solutions work better than others do. Lavender scented hand wash, for example, works at repelling flies, but requires at least daily application. It is not a complete hindrance to flies but does dramatically lessen the problem.

Pre-infection treatments should be reapplied after the coat has been washed or if the animal has been swimming. Prevention is desirable, but if fly strike does develop, please take your dog to a veterinary as soon as possible.