by Amanda Critchfield, DVM

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen quite a few of our canine patients with these types of lesions on their abdomens. They have a classic “bullseye” look which in humans is associated with the bite from a tick carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Thankfully in our canine friends this pattern is typical for marks left after they are bitten by black flies.

Black flies—also called buffalo gnats—leave welts that look very red, bruised and sore but for the most part the pets don’t seem to mind them. They range in diameter from the size of a pea to about the size of a nickel. Some are more pale in the center while other bites can become so red they look as if there was bleeding just beneath the skin. The bites are usually seen along the underbelly and groin area where there is very little fur. These lesions will typically resolve on their own in a week or so and no treatment or extra worrying is necessary. Phew!

Occasionally, some patients are more sensitive to the bites. They may lick the area and some of the bites can start to show signs of infection (swelling and discharge). It’s okay to gently cleanse the area with warm soapy water and to apply a topical antibiotic cream if necessary. (Hint: Right after applying the topical cream is a great time for a 15-20min walk so that they don’t lick it right off.)

Outfitting them with a t-shirt on or the dreaded e-collar can be done for a few days to keep them from licking the area. Please don’t hesitate to check in with us if you have additional concerns. Happy bug-filled spring! (Special thanks to “Ander” Chapman for volunteering to have his picture taken. He was rewarded with special treats for sitting still!)

Amanda, one of our LVTs, found a bad case of black fly bites on her dog, Caleb.

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Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.