Myiasis: Maggots on Dogs
A maggot infestation on dogs, or Myiasis, is a parasitic disease which affects thousands of dogs each year.
What Is Myiasis?
Dog Myiasis happens as flies deposit their eggs inside an open lesion or wound. The eggs hatch and become maggots which then consume the dog’s dying or dead skin tissue, occasionally moving on to healthy tissue, too. The maggots stay in the wound, preventing it from healing, and may spread throughout the dog’s skin. If neglected, the maggots will burrow deeper inside a dog’s skin and systemically progress, eating away at critical organs.
There are various kinds of maggots on dogs; however, the most prevalent kinds found in canines are cavitary myiasis and cutaneous myiasis. Cutaneous myiasis is a maggot infestation on a dog’s skin, or inside a wound. Cavitary is less common, and it’s characterized by a maggot infestation inside natural body cavities (the ears, nostrils, and mouth, etc.).
Canines who are limited to the outdoors, have chronic dog skin conditions (but more on this later), open or festering wounds, or mobility impairment are more vulnerable to developing this disease.
Before exploring the causes of Myiasis let’s explore some common dog skin conditions.
Your dog’s frequent scratching and licking might be more than simply an irritating habit. These types of behaviors are connected with a number of dog skin issues. As with humans, dogs may experience a variety of skin maladies—however unlike humans, they cannot verbally tell you about it.
If you are searching for canine itchy skin relief, be certain you know the precise problem that is causing the itch in order for you to ensure that your canine dermatitis treatment is going to work. Know the causes of skin conditions and allergic dermatitis in dogs and how you can soothe canines’ itchy skin in order for you to help your pup feel better again.
There isn’t any foolproof method of diagnosing dog skin conditions and additional canine skin disorders without a vet; therefore, take your pet in for diagnostic tests to figure out exactly what is causing the problem. But, dog owners ought to be aware of the most typical skin problems and diseases in canines:
Canines have allergies too, and occasionally they are serious. Your dog either may be intolerant or fully allergic to his grooming products or dog food, or even to environmental factors such as insect bites, mold, dust, or pollen. It is important that you know what type of dog food your dog can consume before changing formulas. Atopic dermatitis involves a chronic, inflammatory disease of the skin that is related to allergies. As a matter of fact, it’s the second most typical dog allergic skin disease. Research more on the different kinds of canine skin allergies to check if it’s the cause of your pup’s pain.
Too much or little of specific dog hormones may lead to itchy skin.
This might seem obvious, yet it is easy to forget that lice, mites, fleas, and ticks all have the possibility of irritating your dog’s skin. Also referred to as scabies, mange, is caused by mites. Flea bites include one of the most common causes of a skin rash that is caused by a parasite.
More typically referred to as dandruff, seborrhea also happens in dogs and causes scaly, greasy skin. Usually, it’s an indication of another unresolved problem such as a hormonal imbalance as it happens in canines.
Oftentimes, bacterial infections are at the core of your dog’s skin infections. Folliculitis is a type of bacterial infection which causes scaly patches, bumps, and additional itchy issues on the skin; impetigo is one other bacterial skin infection that’s common with dogs.
They’re one other itchy skin in dog source. Yeast is a fungus which typically infects the paws and ears of dogs; ringworm is an additional fungal infection which afflicts canines with extremely itchy skin.
Lumps underneath the skin which are benign. They may be caused by injury, allergic reactions, infections, or blocked oil ducts.
Some dog breeds which are susceptible to dermatitis include:
- Irish Setters
- Retrievers (Labrador, Golden, Flat-Coated, Curly-Coated, Chesapeake Bay)
Causes of Myiasis
Sores, pre-existing wounds, and skin damage make canines prone to maggot infestations. The wounds may begin as extremely small, and may be caused by excessive licking or scratching, a fight with another animal, or scratch from an object. Persistent infections, dog skin rashes, dog allergies, or frequently bad hygiene also can raise the risk of developing this condition.
Myiasis pretty much always happens in the spaces of the dog’s body where he can’t get to with his tongue. As canines have the ability to lick their wounds, they’ll probably heal faster, because their saliva has tissue that promotes blood clotting. Also, by licking a wound in which a fly laid eggs, the tongue might remove any eggs inside the infected region.
Myiasis is more typical in humid and hot environments and in the summer season as flies are laying their eggs. Canines who spend time in grassy spaces, in which there are higher populations of rodents or rabbits, will probably be prone to maggots, since that is where botflies—the most typical disease source—thrive. But indoor pups also may develop myiasis, because the larvae may be transferred from the fur of an infected dog.
Signs of Maggots in Dogs
The most obvious indication of dog maggots, or myiasis, is the existence of maggots on your dog’s coat, skin, or inside a wound. Maggots rarely are found singularly; the female fly is able to lay 75 - 150 eggs at one time. You’ll actually have the ability to view the maggots moving and wriggling around. They may range in size from ¼” to around 1”. You also may find fly blow, or eggs, present on your pup’s coat and skin; they’re typically identified as being sticky, white and around the size of one grain of rice. Usually, eggs only can be removed by shaving the dog’s hair.
If you see that your pet seems uneasy, frequently getting up, scratching, or fidgeting, scraping, biting, or grooming himself, look for indications of myiasis. Begin with spaces your dog can’t lick—behind the ears, center of his back, as well as his head. Also pay close attention to damp skin areas, as maggots thrive in moist, warm spaces. For instance, look underneath his tail, where feces or urine touch the skin; and between the toe joints, which might become wet from dewy grass or puddles.
A dog that has untreated myiasis will develop a decaying, foul smell as the maggots secrete an enzyme which kills off, or necrotizes, its healthy skin tissues.
Within rare cases, your pup might contract a cuterebra infection, also referred to as warbles. Botflies, or cuterebra, lay their eggs close to or inside the opening of rabbit or rodent burrows. After hatching, the larvae enter the dog’s body through an opening like the wound, mouth, or nose. Dogs may become accidental cuterebra larvae hosts while hunting rabbits or rodents or checking out their holes. In the majority of cases, warbles happen around the neck or head of dogs, yet the early phases are rarely noticeable from an outside inspection; it isn’t until the larvae grow, causing the skin to swell, that they’re felt or seen.
Vuterebra and myiasis are both severe conditions and removal of the maggots ought to be dealt with by a vet. If you suspect that your pet has maggots, book an appointment as soon as possible to avoid them further damaging your pet’s skin tissue.
Prevent Maggot Infestation
Even though myiasis is more typical in rural regions in which dogs are more likely to come across botflies, rodents, and rabbits, you still should take care to keep an infestation from starting if you reside in a big city, as well. Begin by strictly following your pet’s vaccination and deworming schedule offered by the vet.
Also take some time to inspect the dog’s coat and skin each day to make sure the dog does not have any open body sores or open cuts. If you see any wounds, wash them then put on topical antiseptics.
Also, maintaining good hygiene helps with preventing dog maggots. Regularly bathe and brush your dog and completely wash all feces or urine off of your pet’s coat on a daily basis. Doing that helps you see any possibly threatening underlying skin issues in areas more vulnerable to this condition.
Because less mobile and older dogs are at a greater risk of developing maggot infestations, it’s vital that you restrict their time outside. Keep them inside the house as much as you can and make certain that you frequently check their coats.
It also is important to visit the vet as soon as you see any skin infections or any of the myiasis signs discussed above.
Symptoms of Maggots in Dogs
Because there are various kinds of myiasis, symptoms may vary. The longer it goes untreated, the more serious its symptoms become.
Dogs might present various reactions to maggots yet usually, myiasis symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite
- Intense itching
- Excessive licking
In serious cases, myiasis may systemically progress and infect various organs, and cause a broader array of more severe symptoms. If maggots burrow deeper inside the dermis layer, it may cause dangerous infections, and in some instances, shock.
Treating Dog Maggots
Myiasis is a severe condition and treating maggots in dogs ought to be dealt with by a professional.
The main dog maggot removal treatment is a physical maggot and egg removal, one by one. Generally, this process is carefully done, by hand and is a fragile procedure. The toxins and enzymes maggots use to necrotize and consume a dog’s flesh may be released in bigger quantities if the body is pulled apart or crushed. If they are released into the animal’s bloodstream in big enough quantities, these enzymes may cause extra tissue death and even shock.
Because of the delicacy of the treatment, as well as to avoid any pain for your pet, myiasis treatment usually is performed under general anesthetics. Some kinds of myiasis, like a cuterebra infestation, need surgical extraction of the maggots.
Step one in treating dog maggots is usually disinfecting and cleaning the region using an antiseptic. But some veterinarians will opt to do the removal first then clean the wound afterwards.
Maggot removal is a time-consuming and laborious procedure. If an infestation is serious, you may have to make multiple trips to your vet to repeat the procedure and make sure that every egg, larva, and maggot is removed.
The skin tissue which has been necrotized and damaged by the maggots also will have to be extracted to promote healing.
As the process is done, the vet will shave the affected space to prevent bacteria or any eggs from lingering on your dog’s coat and skin. They also will apply an antiseptic, topical solution. They then will bandage the affected space to keep it clean, as well as permit it to heal without interference.
In some instances, the vet might prescribe multiple weeks of anti-fungals, oral antibiotics, fluid therapy, or other steps to help your pup thoroughly heal.
After the myiasis treatment, the underlying skin problem or infection that caused the maggot infestation also should be identified, as well as treated.
Maggot Removal Treatment Recovery
Wounds related to myiasis may take a long time and lots of attention to properly heal, particularly if the maggots burrowed into deeper skin layers.
More than a single appointment might be needed to make sure that all maggots have been extracted. The vet also will check to make sure that the skin is properly regenerating, and no other infection starts developing. It’s crucial to finish the complete dosage of any medicine that is prescribed by the vet and steadily dress and clean the wound until it’s fully healed.
As your pet is recovering, the vet also may prescribe medicine to aid with the discomfort, depending upon the presenting dog symptoms.
Foods Promoting Recovery and Healing
What your pup consumes after his myiasis treatment may have a great impact upon how well he recovers. Poor dietary choices may slow his healing. While it is vital that you follow any advice provided by the vet, the right recovery plan ought to include healthy foods which promote healing.
It is likely that your pet will not have much of an appetite after he comes off the anesthesia, particularly if he lacked an appetite before heading into treatment. Begin by giving him nutritious, small meals. If you do not know what food is okay for your dog, ask the vet for dog nutritionist for recommendations.
You might want to ask the vet for recovery diet advice, yet usually, a post-trauma or post-surgery recovery dog diet will have increased fats, proteins, and calories. That way, even if your pup consumes a smaller portion, he’ll still be receiving all of the nutrition needed to heal.
When you are picking what to feed your pet, search for food items high in protein, as this will assist him in maintaining his body mass. Avoid treats or foods high in carbs, since dogs in recovery typically are insulin resistant to some degree. Also, you want to give the dog food that’s a rich source of energy, since dog lethargy is fairly common after medical treatment.
Lastly, you want the dog’s recovery diet to involve foods which are easily digestible and tasty! If you are making it more enjoyable and easier for him to consume, he’ll absorb more of the ingredients necessary to recuperate.
Below we list examples of all-natural food sources like fruits and vegetables for dogs that you can provide your pets while they are healing from treatment:
They’re high in the restorative vitamins C and A.
Ways to serve: Boil then mash them, so they are easier for the dog to chew, as well as digest.
Such as carrots, this veggie contains vitamins C and A.
Ways to serve: Cut sweet potatoes into cubes then boil them until they are tender, and mash, sprinkle with a little cinnamon then serve it to your pet.
They’re rich in vitamin E, C, and A, and also have useful antioxidants that protect cells from free radicals and additional toxins.
Ways to serve: Remove their seeds and cook or puree the pepper so it is easier to digest. Once the dog is feeling better, it’s possible to even provide raw slices; he may enjoy their crunchy texture.
They’re considered superfoods for a reason, blueberries are full of minerals and antioxidants which permit the body to concentrate on healing.
Ways to serve: Your pup may eat blueberries as-is, but if you find that he is a bit apprehensive, it’s possible to turn it to an ice cream treat by pureeing the blueberries in conjunction with a frozen banana.
As a dog owner, your responsibility includes giving your pup the best life you can. While maggots in canines is pretty uncommon, its symptoms may be devastating; be certain you are taking care of the dog and taking him to the veterinarian at the first indication of myiasis.
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Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.
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Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.
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