Could you recognize this common bug bite on your pet?

Dogs and a stick

Any pet owner would be alarmed to see bright red spots on their beloved pet. At first glance these red, circular marks may make you worry about ringworm. After the marks spread into a "bullseye" shape, Lyme disease is a greater concern.

Luckily, the pesky bites usually don't point to something serious. They’re the result of black fly bites, and they’re particularly common this time of year.

Black fly bites

Spring and early summer are peak time for black fly bites

Our vets see many cases of black fly bites this time of year, fielding dozens of calls from concerned pet owners. Even if you use a regular flea and tick preventative, your dog may still get bitten. Thankfully, black fly bites aren’t usually a serious medical concern.

Black fly bites typically heal without treatment. While they can be sore or itchy, pets recover within a few days. As with any skin lesion, keep the area clean using a pet-safe soap and antibacterial cream, and prevent your pet from licking or scratching.

Identifying black fly bites on your pet

  • Nickle-sized, bright red circles with a dot in the middle (like a bullseye)

  • Can occur anywhere on the body, but typically appear on the stomach or inner thighs

  • Pets usually show minor irritation, but not painful when touched
  • Not accompanied by limping, lameness on shifting legs, or lethargy. If your dog has these, test them for Lyme disease.

Call a vet for infected bites

In rare cases, bites can become infected and need antibiotic care. If the marks don’t improve within 48 hours or seem to get worse, give your vet a call.

Although we all love Minnesota summers, the warmer weather brings extra risks to our pets. Keep a close eye on your best friend during all your summer adventures. Check them regularly for anything out of the ordinary — that means more belly rubs for them!

Is it safe to use bug repellents on pets?

Never use a product on your pet that isn’t intended for them. According to the ASPCA, both dogs and cats are sensitive to DEET. Using it could cause neurological problems, such as tremors, seizures, or even death.

There are pet-safe bug repellent products at your local pet supply store. Check with your veterinarian for recommendation on such products.

Learn more about protecting your pet from parasites, heartworm, and Lyme disease. Here's to a happy and healthy summer!


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