Now that summertime is in full bloom, summer rains are bringing many wonderful lifeforms into our yards and inside our homes.
It’s amusing, and honestly kind of handy when Cow and Matilda go after the flies that lurk on the walls.
And it’s also pretty yucky.
We all know that flies land in icky things like poop, and then carry fecal bacteria everywhere they land.
So, as amusing as it is to see your dog catching flies, you’re probably wondering if there’s a risk that your dog might get sick from this habit.
What Kind Of Bacteria Do Flies Carry?
Regular house flies, or as they’re also known, “sky raisins,” can transmit over 65 diseases to humans, including typhoid fever, cholera, leprosy and tuberculosis.
Even so, your dog’s short, acidic digestive tract quickly kills off any bacteria that a fly could carry.
Also, a fly or two that lands on your food is unlikely to carry enough bacteria to even make you sick. If your food is getting swarmed, however, your best bet is to throw it out.
I also wouldn’t feed dog food that has been ravaged by bugs, just to be on the safe side, though a fly or two in your dog’s water bowl won’t cause any harm.
If your dog eats almost any type of household fly, like fruit flies, drain flies or gnats, it’s very unlikely that she will get sick.
Lightning bugs, also known as fireflies, are also relatively harmless, though a big haul can give your dog temporary gastric upset.
They fly low and slow, and their blinking is a dead giveaway, so it’s easy for a dog to snap up a whole bunch in one night.
Are Some Bugs Dangerous For Dogs To Eat?
Not all bugs are safe for dogs to catch and eat.
Mosquitoes are known for carrying heartworm larvae. Your dog does not have to eat a mosquito to contract heartworm, though, it more commonly occurs when the dog is bitten.
Fleas, if ingested, can infect your dog with tapeworms.
Cockroaches, crickets and beetles can also carry worm eggs or larvae.
Whether your dog eats bugs or not, you need to continuously prevent parasites.
I choose to do this with monthly Interceptor tablets that I get from my vet.
Though I try to go with natural products as much as possible, and many products like Interceptor have some risk of serious side effects like seizures and brain damage, I feel the risk of contracting a parasite is greater than the risk of side effects.
Talk to your vet to choose the right parasite prevention for your dog.
You should also take your dog for yearly wellness checks, which typically include a fecal test to check for parasites.
How Can I Put An End To This Fly Catching Habit?
Would you rather that your dog just ignore bugs?
It’ll be tough to put an end to this harmless, though yucky habit.
Flies are everywhere, and your dog can probably snap them up before you can even react.
You could try teaching a solid “leave it” and asking your dog to leave flies alone every time you encounter them together.
Really, though, the most effective way to stop your dog from chasing and eating flies is to just try to keep flies out of your home environment.
A lot of household pesticides are harmful to dogs. So, you’ll have to get creative to find ways to kill and repel bugs without your dog getting in the crossfire.
For ants, I’ve found that cinnamon makes a really effective repellent. Put it on ant trails, and wherever ants might be entering your home.
For most flies, I have found that it’s best to take a wine bottle, drink most of it, leaving about an inch or two at the bottom. Flies are attracted to the aroma of fermenting fruits, so they’ll be able to fly into the narrow bottle neck, but they won’t be able to get out.
Some bugs aren’t a fan of sweet flavors. They might be attracted to a mixture of warm water and yeast… beer can work too.
Instead of a wine bottle, you can take a flat container, like a Tupperware, and fill it halfway with your pest’s favorite liquid, then add a drop of dish soap.
Swish it around, and you’ll create a surface film that bugs can land on, but cannot escape.
My Dog Is Biting For Flies That Don’t Actually Exist
Does your dog behave like she’s snapping flies out of the air… even when no flies are present?
Sadly, this could be a sign of a serious issue.
It could be a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD habits in dogs can develop from chasing laser pointers, or just too much fly chasing, to the point where they always on the lookout for bugs, to the point where it negatively affects their life.
Fly-snapping syndrome could also be a type of focal seizure. In that case, your dog will need to go to the vet for a CAT scan, and may need to be put on medication, if the issue is severe.
Friday 13th of August 2021
Thanks so much for the update info about the flies; my rescue mix who is 3 ate 2 flies yesterday. I swear she thought she was helping me. But I was worried but she has eaten everything/anything since a baby. Several pair of my glasses, eats all of her toys and still loves them, first the squeeker then the stuffing.
Saturday 7th of August 2021
Thank you Ms. Lindsay, we have a 1-1/2 year rescue Lab/ Shepherd, he snaps at anything airborne. But bacteria laden disgusting flies worried me the most, he’s sweet but stubborn, No to him means Yes. I will still do utmost to keep them out. But at least I’m at better ease if 1-2.
Monday 26th of July 2021
Thanks for the information. I really like the way you express complex topics in a lucid way. It really helps me understand it in a much better way.
Thursday 10th of June 2021
Thanks for the information. I really like the way you express complex topics in lucid way. It really helps me understand it much better way.
Wednesday 17th of July 2019
Thanks for the tips, Lindsay! It's truly a challenge to keep dogs from catching flies or other bugs. I tried to train my pooch, yet, I've been an utter failure. Though I'm still trying other techniques and hopefully it will work someday. I'm curious about the Fly-snapping syndrome -- I'll do my homework about it. Cheers!