Keep Flies Off Your Pets

By Lambert Vet Supply | 4/26/2018 | Posted to General
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Call out the SWAT team!
Yep, it’s fly season again. You can bet they’ll be out in force as warm weather shows up. Researchers suspect flies transmit at least 65% to humans, including anthrax, e coli, dysentery, and a lot more deadly illnesses. Pets don’t escape a fly’s wrath, either. Biting flies will try to inflict infection and disease on dogs and cats whenever they can sink their chompers on their prey.

Flies hang out in unsanitary places (piles of garbage, refuse sites, and sewers), feeding on rotting, spoiled, and decaying matter. They also think dung is a great meal. So, what can you do to protect your cat and dog from flies and everything that comes with them? Well, a 24-hour, on-the-job fly swatter team would be an excellent idea, but who has the time for that? Luckily, there are safe alternate methods that pet parents can take to lessen Fido and Fluffy’s encounters with flies this spring and summer.

Please note that not all fly products for dogs are safe for use on cats.

View Infographic: Flies, More Than Pests >>

Get the Buzz on Flies

In combating flies, it helps to get a little insight into their habits and how their reproduction works. Flies only ingest liquid food, so they spray their saliva on top of solids they desire and suck it up through a straw-like part of their body called the proboscis. Flies drink a great deal of water to keep salivating and will drink wherever they find it, such as rain-filled containers, ponds—and your dog’s water dish. Flies regurgitate and excrete wherever they come to rest. So if the fly that lands on your dog has just come from a smorgasbord in a nearby garbage can, whatever germs it has acquired will be deposited at that spot. Those tiny specks that appear in places where flies congregate are actually their fecal matter.

Flies reproduce at an alarming rate. Adult female flies lay 100-150 eggs in any decaying matter they can find, including garbage cans and dung. After about seven and a half hours (in warm weather), the eggs will hatch and release worm-like creatures called maggots, which proceed to gorge wherever they reside and later change into larvae. A larva will, in time, become a pupa and, later still, emerge as an adult fly. Adult flies start mating within a day or two and the process starts all over again.

Cats, Dogs, and Fly Control 

Several common types of flies bite dogs and cats to get a blood meal—though in general flies seem less interested in felines. Regardless, fly bites  hurt; any human who has been a fly target can attest to that. To keep your pet from becoming part of a fly’s daily roster of targets, some simple things can help keep pests away. Start by cleaning up a dog’s outside waste often. Since flies are drawn to dung, cleaning up doggie piles daily or twice a day may help keep these pests out of the yard. Likewise, outside food dishes will draw flies since room temperature and warmer food will start to breed bacteria. And flies will continue to bite as long as they have the strength to do so. This can lead to infections with oozing, itching areas on your pet’s skin.

Flies will bite more during the daylight hours, so simply moving a pet inside takes fly aggression down. Keep flies outside by making sure window and door screens are tight, with no access points or holes. Caulk holes around pipes and vents to prevent flies from getting inside.

  • Employ fly strips, traps, and—yes—even fly swatters in areas where flies should not fly. A steady hand and good eye armed with a fly swatter is a fly’s nightmare.

  • Flies zone in on a cat or dog’s ears, stomach, and groin because these areas offer more skin. Ears a very popular target, especially on Labradors and German Shepherds. For dogs with outside houses or kennels, hanging a few plastic strips across the entrance, helps knock off flies that may be after your canine. Flies will struggle more to fly through a barrier, too.

  • If your dog or cat has suffered some bites and irritation to his ears, use saline or chlorhexidine to clean them and remove oozing crusts. A good antiseptic cream and fly repellent will help keep flies from bothering these areas, too. Antiseptics creams with pyrethrin will help treat infected ears, but it is not a good fit for cats. Never use pyrethrin on a cat, because it is deadly to them. Consult with your veterinarian for the best treatment for your feline. Install fans in outside yards to keep flies at bay. They simply cannot maneuver in a strong wind, whether it is man-made or natural.

  • Sprays with permethrin provide an excellent source to keep fleas, ticks, and flying insects away in warm weather. It also proves to be cost-effective with a small ratio used to a water-filled spray bottle. This can be used in areas around pet bedding and exercise areas. It can also be reapplied as needed during the hot months.

  • Topical treatment products designed for fly inhibition for dogs exist on the market but are limited. This presents a challenge for pet owners, but regular use of fly repellent applications goes a long way in preventing biting flies from getting a nibble. As always, do not use these products on or near cats. It can kill cats.

  • Some fly infestations may warrant a more aggressive use of chemicals for exterior use, primarily. Pesticides will contain pyrethroid and other like compounds, but these are poisonous so they present dangers to children, pets, and livestock. A licensed pet control operator may be able to advice and assist with treatment. However, insecticides do not offer long-term solutions since sunlight and the elements will break down the chemicals. Be careful not to use pesticides inside a house for the long term due to their toxicity.

  • Add some good old fashioned fly strips, flaps, bug zappers and the like in stables and yards. They are cheap, easily replaced, and help eliminate more flies the area.

  • Annoying, obnoxious, and downright irritating aptly describes tormenting flies. Set your sights on flies this season with prevention, treatment, and safety. Help pets enjoy the outside without fear of becoming a fly’s next target.

    Related Article: Take Steps to Control Flies Around Your Horses

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    The information contained in The Well Pet Post articles is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a veterinarian and is not intended as medical advice. If you have a health con­cern about your pets, please consult with an appropriately-licensed veterinarian. Never dis­re­gard pro­fes­sional veterinary advice or delay in seek­ing it for your pets because of some­thing you have read on this blog or in any linked materials.
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