Black Fly Bites on Dogs: Causes & Treatments 2024

The pesky little black flies found this time of year are known to bite both people and dogs, often causing an itchy rash or swelling in the area that’s been bitten. While you may be able to get relief from your bites with over-the-counter medication, the same probably isn’t true for your dog. If you’ve ever been in the woods and had black flies swarm you, then you know how bad they can be and how they can drive you crazy!

One of the worst places to get bitten by these small flies is on your dog’s ears. It’s not always easy for dog owners to find black fly bites on their dogs visibly, but your dog’s reaction will usually make it pretty obvious.

If you’ve ever wondered, How do I get rid of these black fly bites on my dog? Or Why are the black flies biting my dog so much? Then you’re in luck because there are several natural remedies you can try to treat and protect your pet against them. Here’s what you need to know about black fly bites on dogs and how to treat them appropriately so they don’t harm your pet’s health.

Black Fly Bites on Dogs

Black Fly Bites on Dogs

Summertime means picnics, pool days, and black fly season. Black flies are small, dark-colored insects that are attracted to moving objects. And while they may not be able to take down a human, they can certainly make a meal out of your poor pup.  The fly’s saliva will make your dog uncomfortable and can become infected if left untreated.

Black Fly Bites on Dogs

The best way to prevent an attack is by keeping your pet indoors during peak hours (usually early morning or late evening). If you can’t keep them inside, try using a natural repellent such as lemon juice or essential oil like lavender. Be sure to reapply often.

How to identify a black fly bite

Black Fly Bites on Dogs

Black fly bites are relatively easy to spot. They usually appear as small, dark bumps on the skin. Sometimes, however, the nodes can be red and swollen. If you see your dog scratching or licking a particular spot more than usual, it’s worth taking a closer look. You may find that there is a black fly bite there.

Black Fly Bites on Dogs

Keep an eye out for other symptoms of infection, such as fever or swelling in the lymph nodes, because these could indicate that your dog has developed an infection from this bite. It’s best to call your vet if you’re not sure whether or not a black fly bite causes the bump; they’ll know what to do next.

If there is an unusual swelling, get to the vet immediately. In rare cases, black flies tend to cause a more extensive bacterial infection that could mean serious problems for your dog. Not every insect bite on a dog will result in something severe, but like tick bites, fly bites can sometimes become the dreaded Lyme disease you want to avoid at all costs.

Lyme disease can cause a lot of neurological disorders in your dog. And it can all stem from one singular tick bite or sometimes fly bites. If you see any red ring or red dot patterns on your dog, or blood, make sure you see a vet as soon as possible.

How to treat them

Black Fly Bites on Dogs

If a black fly has bitten your dog, you’ll likely notice swelling and redness around the bite. Your dog may also be scratching at the edge, leading to further irritation and infection. Here’s what you can do to treat black fly bites on your dog.

1) Remove any larvae that are visible with tweezers or gloves.

2) Apply an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel to reduce swelling.

3) Put calamine lotion on the area to soothe skin irritations.

4) Give your pet an antihistamine like Benadryl if they’re scratching excessively and have developed skin ulcers from pawing at the bites.

Don’t use human bug sprays.

Black Fly Bites on Dogs

Human bug sprays can be toxic to dogs if they lick themselves after you’ve sprayed them down. Instead, look for a natural repellent with ingredients like citronella or lemon eucalyptus oil, which will repel bugs without harming your pup.

Black Fly Bites on Dogs

You can also try making a homemade repellent by mixing water, apple cider vinegar, and essential oils. Mix the three ingredients in a spray bottle and apply as needed. One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with one teaspoon of salt will also work wonders against biting insects.

It’s rare, but allergic reactions can be severe.

Black Fly Bites on Dogs

If you notice your dog is excessively scratching or licking at a bite, it could be a sign of an allergic reaction. If the area around the bite starts to swell, is hot to the touch, or if your dog seems lethargic or in pain, these could also be signs of a reaction or possible Lyme disease, and you should seek veterinary care immediately. Once you’ve confirmed that your dog does not have any other symptoms, there are some steps you can take to minimize the itchiness:

A) Clean the affected bite mark area with cold water

B) Apply an ice pack for 15 minutes

C) Apply pet-friendly topical medication (ask your vet before using anything unfamiliar)

D) You can make a concoction from lemon juice and apple cider vinegar by adding one part ACV to two parts lemon juice

Know when to worry

Black Fly Bites on Dogs

Black fly bites can be annoying, but they are typically harmless, like poison ivy. There are a few signs that can be more troublesome than others. If your dog is scratching a lot, seems to be in pain, or you see blood or eggs anywhere on them, it’s time to take them to the vet.

Fly bites can sometimes lead to infection, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can try home remedies to the affected sore area, including calamine lotion, aloe vera gel, or baking soda paste. The best action is to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible for proper treatment.

How to keep flies off your dog

Black Fly Bites on Dogs

1. Keep your dog well-groomed. Flies attract dirty dogs, so regular baths and brushing will help keep them away. Keep your dog’s belly trimmed shorter, especially since that’s a prime area to which black flies tend to attach themselves to pets. Bathing them with mild soap and warm water after they’ve been in a place where black flies may have been present is also an excellent way to soothe bite marks and sensitive skin.

2. Use a fly repellent on your dog’s coat and outer ears. Some products on the market can help keep flies away from your dog and humans. Be sure to read the labels carefully and follow the directions. And remember that not all sprays made for humans are healthy for animals, so ensure the treatment isn’t toxic.

3. Keep your dog in a shady spot. If it’s too hot for you, it’s probably too hot for your dog. Studies have shown that if it’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside, most people won’t be able to work more than two hours before heat exhaustion sets in. Dogs don’t sweat but pant to cool themselves off, which doesn’t work well when it’s humid. Remember that animals get hotter faster than you, which can cause discomfort.

4. You can put a t-shirt on your dog to help keep their sensitive skin covered and therefore less susceptible to being bit in the first place. Bites are most likely to occur on ears and a dog’s belly; while it’s tough to cover the ears, a shirt can keep them off the dog’s main body.

5. Keep your dog away from garbage cans and moving water, where mosquitoes, buffalo gnats, and black flies tend to congregate. When they’re not busy annoying people, they will surely come after your dogs, cats, and other pets, so it’s best to steer clear of prime areas simply.


So are black fly bites dangerous? They can be. Black fly bites can be painful and itchy for your dog, and they can also transmit diseases. The best way to prevent them is to keep your dog away from areas where black flies are known to congregate, like marshes or wooded areas, especially in warmer months (summer) when they are more present in large groups.

If you’re going to be in a place where black flies are present, try to keep your dog on a leash to control their exposure better. And finally, make sure to check your dog for bites regularly and consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Black Fly Bites on Dogs

Frequently Asked Questions

What to use on dogs for black flies?

The use of insect repellent on the dog is the first line of protection against black fly bites. Topical creams include ingredients like Permethrins, which keep insects from setting up shop on your dog's skin. These are applied essentially all over a dog's body, preferably in places where licking is discouraged.

How do I treat my dogs fly strike?

Topical antibiotic and corticosteroid ointments are used to treat the current skin wounds. This will assist to lessen swelling and infection while also giving the flies a temporary mechanical barrier.

Can Fly biting syndrome be cured?

Is it curable? Fly snapping is typically a symptom of another illness or condition, thus treatments are typically created to address the underlying issues.

Can black fly bites make a dog sick?

The good news is that most pets don't mind if they have black fly bites. These welts may appear uncomfortable and painful, but they usually go away with time. Some animals may be more susceptible than others to these bites, and they could get a skin infection.