Preventing Fly Strike in Pets

Fly strike is a painful condition that most frequently affects animals in the summer and fall heat. Also called myiasis, it is an irritation caused by the biting of flies, including stable flies, black flies and deer flies. Here in Colorado, we have had a few cases of cuterebra fly strike this summer as well. These insect bites can be found anywhere on the body and are precipitated by moisture on the skin under thick hair. Painful sores will begin to show, appearing red and crusty. In the most severe cases, flies will lay their eggs inside the damaged areas.

The biting of flies and maggots is extremely painful for your pet and can be fatal if left untreated. Call your vet immediately if you notice lesions on your animal.

Fly strike can look very similar to mange or an allergic reaction, and Powell Veterinary Service will be happy to provide you a diagnosis and the help your pet needs. Old dogs, young puppies, kittens and rabbits raised outdoors are among those most commonly affected by the condition. This is because they cannot or do not repel the flies that attack them. Animals that are incontinent are also at a high risk for fly strike, as flies are attracted to the scent of urine.

The treatment of fly strike involves a thorough cleaning of the wound, including the removal of maggots and dead tissue. Topical antibiotics and steroids will be administered to aid the healing process and a topical pyrethrin can be applied to affected areas of the skin to further repel insects.

Prevent fly strike by keeping your pet out of the summer heat as much as possible. Fly strike is especially common among animals that spend a lot of time outside, so be sure to keep pets’ outdoor areas clean. Pick up after your animal and remove food and garbage from the yard to help keep flies at bay. At night, put a mix of concentrated pyrethrin and water through a fog machine to repel insects. Also, spray the specific areas that flies are drawn to.

Summer grooming, especially in older dogs, is a good way to keep affected areas free of excess moisture and will allow you to see bites as they appear. To repel insects from your dog’s skin, apply pyrethrins or permethrins. Available in topical ointments and sprays, these repellents cannot be used on cats unless specifically labeled so.

Contact Powell Veterinary Service immediately if you notice this painful condition on your pet. We are located in Kersey, Colorado and serve the neighboring towns and communities. Call us at 970-352-9164 to set up an appointment and get your furry friend back to feeling his or her best!